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What to do with employees who abscond duty

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Employers are advised to take action when a worker leaves without word to avoid exposing the organisation to claims of unfair termination. Photo/FILE

Employers are advised to take action when a worker leaves without word to avoid exposing the organisation to claims of unfair termination. Photo/FILE 

By JACQUELINE MUGO

Posted  Tuesday, February 22  2011 at  00:00

A common dilemma that many employers are facing is how to handle workers who leave without notification or permission only to come back months later to claim their jobs back or ask for terminal dues.

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Some of these employees claim that the employer sacked them verbally and did not pay their terminal dues.

As an employer, to be on the safe side, you must know what the law provides on termination of employment and on an employee who fails to report to work without permission or other lawful cause.

Section 35 of the Employment Act, 2007 provides that either the employer or employee must give notice of intention to terminate employment to the other party.

Section 36 provides for payment of equivalent salary in lieu of notice instead of serving the notice. The length of notice will depend on the interval at which salary is paid.

Where the contract states that employee is paid daily wages as is the case of a casual worker, the employment can be terminated at the end of the day without notice.

This is because all casual employment ends at the end of the day. Each day is thus a new contract.

Where payment is made weekly, the notice is one week or payment of one week’s salary in lieu, and where payment is made every two weeks then notice must be for the same period.

An employee paid monthly must give or is entitled to one month’s notice or equivalent salary in lieu of notice.

An employee is expected to give notice before leaving employment.

However, sometimes employees just fail to report to work the next day and leave it to the employer to decide how to deal with the absence.

Absence without permission is a ground for summary dismissal under section 44 of the Employment Act.

Some of the employees who leave employment without permission expect their employers to dismiss them under this section.

Many employers, however, just do nothing and forget about the employee hoping that since s/he has abandoned work, it is his/her problem.

But after a few months or years, when the employee comes to demand their job back or terminal benefits and sometimes compensation for wrongful termination or dismissal, the employers find themselves in a dilemma.

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