A business has several components that must be managed to ensure operations run smoothly. The workforce is the core component, directly associated with productivity and output.
What happens when your workers start showing up late or, take leave without permission?
This behaviour must be dealt with in strategic planning as an unauthorised leave can severely impact a business economically and on operational terms. It is not easy for HR managers to decide how to deal with unauthorised absences as they occur unexpectedly, so any preemptive actions are difficult to take.
In this article, we detail everything about unauthorised absence from work to understand the possible measures that can be taken to curb the practice.
What does unauthorised absence mean?
An unauthorised absence is when an employee takes leave without providing any reason for their absence. If the worker fails to notify the supervisor or manager about their absence, such leave is unauthorised.
There can be more than one version of absence without leave (AWOL). When a worker is absent and calls in to inform about the reason but mentions a reason that they are not permitted as per their employee contract, it is also considered unauthorised absenteeism. For instance, if an employee informs their manager about any personal appointments last-minute, an unplanned holiday, or any reason that HR managers deem unfit for an absence. That said, HR managers must be empathic towards permissible grounds for an employee’s absence, such as sickness or need to attend to dependants in an emergency. Poor weather conditions making it difficult to travel to work is also why sometimes employees cannot report to work.
Given the sudden nature of these situations, HR managers must create clear policies as to when and under what circumstances unauthorised absence from duty disciplinary action is unnecessary. This will help supervisors to know when to take action against unauthorised absences.
How to deal with unauthorised absence
In the event of an unauthorised absence from work, there are several ways to deal with the situation. HR managers must be with reasonable attempts to contact the employee to ascertain the reason for the sudden unscheduled absence from work. Depending on the reply from the worker, appropriate action can be taken.
Here’s how what can be done.
Ensure that all employees are aware of the attendance policy
Prevention is better than cure, so you must take all necessary actions to prevent Unauthorized absence. The HR department’s responsibility is to prepare clear, concise, and easy-to-follow employment policies. The policies must clearly outline the company’s expectations around reporting an absence or asking for leave.
Explicitly create sickness and holiday absence policies to make it easier for employees to know what the company expects from them in such scenarios. It must mention whom employees should contact if they need to leave urgently. Employees who understand the appropriate process for requesting leaves are less likely to commit mistakes.
According to the company, mention in the policy what is termed as unauthorised leave. Also, give some examples as we provided above. Disciplinary actions that can be taken against unauthorised absence must also be clear.
Try to contact the employee
If an employee doesn’t show up for work within the given time frame specified under the company’s attendance policy and is not authorised to leave, it is a valid reason to contact them. Managers can try reaching them over call and email. If there is no response, you can contact the emergency contact in case the employee is not notified and is not reachable. Once you have ensured there is no emergency; it makes appropriate grounds for dismissal for unauthorised absence from work.
Send a warning letter and initiate a disciplinary meeting
If you cannot reach the concerned person through phone or email, after a certain number of days, and if you cannot contact their emergency contact too, you can send them a warning letter regarding their unauthorised absence. The warning letter must be an initiation for a meeting for unauthorised absence from duty disciplinary action. Ensure that you provide 48 hours’ notice to the person for the meeting.
Invite them to a disciplinary meeting
After a warning letter is delivered and they fail to attend the meeting, it is advisable to invite them for a second meeting. It is the right thing to do, and if they fail to follow the rescheduled meeting, do notify them that the meeting will go ahead regardless of their presence.
Suppose the employee attends the disciplinary meeting and informs the reason which is viable and acceptable for unauthorised absence. In that case, you should tell them that such a thing will be added to their record if the behaviour is repeated.
What disciplinary actions can you take for unauthorized absence from duty?
It is highly unlikely that a single instance of unauthorised absence will result in disciplinary action. However, if the employee indulges in such behaviour regularly, they must be notified of a disciplinary procedure for misconduct. Next, you can hold formal meetings, issue written warning letters, and then proceed with dismissal actions.
What do I do when they come back to work?
When the employees return to work after an unauthorised absence, it is necessary to investigate the reason for their undue absence. Ask them to explain why they were not present without notifying their supervisor or manager. Furthermore, they must clarify the reason for their absence.
Depending on the reason, the HR managers should decide the consequences of unauthorised absence from work. If it is not a regular occurrence, reiterate the company’s stance against unauthorised leave and how it can affect their employment. Inform them that repeated failure to adhere to the company’s attendance policies can lead to strict disciplinary action.
There might be circumstances when you are sceptical of the reasons provided by the employee, but you can’t categorically prove them false. For instance, if you heard an employee talking about what a great time they had at home on the same day they claimed to be unwell and took leave without informing the manager, don’t act. It would help if you gave the employee the benefit of the doubt as, without sound evidence, it is better to avoid confrontation. However, if they continue with the behaviour, even after a warning, initiate a disciplinary motion.
Unauthorised absenteeism must not be taken lightly. Such behaviour can wreak havoc on a company’s productivity and success in the long run. HR managers must create an attendance policy and inform employees about it. It is essential to have balanced policies to deal with unauthorised absence. Let workers know what makes a leave unauthorised and how it can warrant disciplinary action or result in termination from the job.
Automated attendance systems like Truein can help automate the whole process of policy creation and sharing.