human resources

Job Abandonment and Employee Termination

Even if an employee fails to show up for work, it may still not be considered job abandonment, depending on how the company has handled similar situations

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When an employee stops showing up for work, it may be considered "job abandonment." But is the employer always justified in terminating the employee?

Job abandonment scenario

When Mary was first hired two months ago as a janitor for a cleaning services company, she was verbally instructed to begin work at 9 a.m. As she became comfortable in her new position, Mary casually started arriving later and later to begin her shift but would clock in and out dutifully upon arrival and before leaving for the day. Over the past two weeks, Mary has been regularly late, several times after 11 a.m., and has no-showed twice.

At first, Mary’s boss wanted to be flexible and understanding, assuming she was attending to family matters that required her to arrive late. However, after the second no-show, Mary’s boss left her a voicemail message saying she had voluntarily quit for job abandonment and needed Mary to turn in her access badge immediately.

Mary has now filed for unemployment. Will the employer be able to fight (and win) her unemployment insurance claim?

Answer: No.

Company policy and job abandonment

Job abandonment or "no-call, no-show" occurs when an employee has no intention of returning to work and has not notified her supervisor of her intention to quit. Because there is no legal definition, company policy and practices establish what is and isn’t considered job abandonment.

In Mary’s situation, she began casually arriving late to work with no reprimands or warnings. Because Mary’s boss did not enforce the established work time of 9 a.m. or follow-up with Mary regarding her tardiness, Mary will qualify for unemployment benefits, even after not showing up to work twice, because of the apparent flexibility with her work schedule.

How to avoid situations leading up to job abandonment

To avoid any misunderstanding, an employer should:

  • Establish clear company guidelines about “no-call, no-shows.”
  • Communicate with the employee to learn about the situation if the employee misses work without contacting their supervisor.
  • Provide corrective action the first time there’s an infraction to company policy.
  • Document any form of corrective action, whether it be verbal or written warnings.
  • Follow-up with the employee to ensure a clear understanding of appropriate behavior.
  • If a similar situation has occurred in the past, learn what precedence was set. In the event you want to change the previously-set standard, consult with one of the Stratus HR experts to cautiously proceed.

For more information on this or other sticky HR situations, please contact your certified HR expert. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation today and our team will contact you shortly.

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6 Things to Consider before You Fire an Employee

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