The Best Way to Handle Unauthorised Absences

An unauthorised absence in the workplace can cause disruption when it comes to scheduling, payroll, deadlines, and a whole range of other issues. It’s defined as an absence which is neither authorised, or when the business was not informed in advance. Absences can take many forms and can occur for many reasons, so the first thing a company has to do is establish whether the absence is authorised or not.

If the problem occurs only once, then perhaps simple measures can be taken. If the problem occurs regularly with one employee, it warrants investigation. If the problem occurs in many cases, with several employees, it’s fair to say that the company has a problem. Here is the best way to handle unauthorised absences.

Is it authorised?

Some absences are authorised, and even absences which may not initially be authorised may be excused. Ask first the following questions:

  • Does the employee understand the procedure for reporting an absence?

  • Does the employee understand that the absence is unauthorised?

  • Did the employee contact the business regarding the absence?

  • Is there a reasonable explanation for the absence?

  • Is there a pattern of absences?

Taking steps

Once it has been established that the absence is indeed unauthorised, it’s recommended you take the following steps:

  • Explain to the employee in writing that the absence was unauthorised and why.

  • Inform the payroll department to make the necessary adjustments.

  • Consider whether disciplinary action should be taken, and follow the correct procedures should this be the case.

Looking at the problem

It’s very possible that the personal life or conduct of the employee is at the root of the problem. On the other hand, it’s also possible that there are issues within the company which encourage (or at least don’t discourage) such conduct, especially if the problem is common and several employees show unathorised absences. Looking at the problem carefully is important to understand what can be done about it, and how policies could possibly be adjusted to prevent it further.

Adjusting policies

A flexible working policy, travel policy, attendance reward policy – these are just examples of how unauthorised absences could be avoided.

When investigating, it’s important to understand that the employee may have some problems admitting the true reasons for their absences, or may have doubts regarding the procedures you employ. It’s best to record the interview and then have it transcribed by professionals such as Making the employee feel comfortable is a big part of the investigation. Ensure the employee that he or she will have the company’s full support and handle the situation with as much understanding as possible – it’s the only way to get to the bottom of the issue. Unauthorised absences can cause many short- and long-term problems, so handle them well.

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