Formally break contract with a worker who has absconded
Posted Wednesday, June 20 2012 at 17:47
A common dilemma that employers are facing is how to handle workers who leave without notification or permission only to come back months later to reclaim their jobs or ask for their terminal dues.
Some maintain they were sacked verbally and that their employers have to pay their terminal dues.
To be on the safe side as an employer, make sure you know the laws guiding termination of service— especially how to deal with a worker who stays away without permission.
Section 35 of the Employment Act, 2007, provides that either the employer or worker must give notice of intention to terminate contract. Section 36 also provides for payment of equivalent salary in lieu of notice. But this will depend on the interval at which the worker is paid.
In the case of a casual worker, employment can be terminated at the end of the day without notice.
This is because all casual work ends at the close of business (CoB) and each day is the beginning of a new contract.
But if the worker is paid weekly, the notice period is one week or seven days’ salary in lieu of notice. Where payment is made every two weeks then the notice must be for the same period.
Those paid on monthly basis must give or be entitled to notice of a similar duration or equivalent salary.
An employee is expected to give notice before leaving employment. But sometimes they just do not show up the next day and leave it to the employer to decide how to deal with the situation.
Absence without permission is sound ground for summary dismissal under section 44 of the Employment Act.
But many employers choose to do nothing or shrug it off as the errant worker’s problem. But such an employer finds himself in a dilemma after a few months or years when the worker comes back to demand his job or to ask for terminal benefits and sometimes compensation for wrongful termination or dismissal.
So how should an employer handle this situation?
It is crucial to officially bring employment to an end even if it is the employee who has walked out.
The first step is to have rules spelling out what employees should do when they are unable to report to work.
The guidelines must be clear on how long they can be away before they are deemed as having breached their contracts.