What to do when your employee disappears

News on 03 July 2019

What to do when your employee disappears

Have I employed Harry Houdini?

You’ve come in to work and you’re trying to sort through the mass of emails in your inbox and the jumble of information swirling around your head.

Did you lock the front door?

What did your boss ask you to do first thing this morning?

While all this is happening, you look up and notice Kelly isn’t in. It’s strange because you’ve not heard from her, there’s no missed call, and no one has said anything.

What do you do?

Firstly, check that you haven’t forgotten that your employee is on holiday. Sounds silly, but it does happen – managers aren’t robots so there will be things they forget.

If they aren’t on holiday, could they be stuck in traffic or missed their bus / train?

Once you’ve looked at those options, try giving them a call. Bob Hoskins said, “it’s good to talk”, and we stand by him. Unless you’ve spoken to them how do you know what’s going on?

If you’ve tried calling, left a message, and still haven’t heard anything back, at this point you need to get your HR team involved.

Elvis is in the building (cheesy I know)

If your employee has come back to work the next day, the first thing you need to do is arrange to have a private conversation with them to find out where they were the day before. You also need to find out why they didn’t contact you or return your call.

If you do not feel that they have given a valid reason, it could be that you need to take them down the disciplinary route. Speak to your HR team if you’d like to proceed with a disciplinary.

Sometimes you don’t need to go down the disciplinary route to get the same outcome (they don’t go missing again). In these circumstances you could have a discussion with them and then issue them with a “letter of concern”. This is a follow up letter from a meeting with them to tell them what they’ve done wrong, what they need to do going forwards, and advising them that if they do it again, they could face disciplinary action.

They are still missing in action

If they don’t show up on day two, and you still can’t get hold of them by phone, we’d advise that you start the absent without leave (AWOL) process. The first letter you send is one that asks them to tell you where they are and gives them a bit of information about the Company’s sickness process, just in case they aren’t very well and didn’t know who to call.

If they fail to respond to this letter, then you should invite them to a disciplinary hearing. Follow your company processes with the disciplinary hearing. If you don’t have a policy in place, then you need to ensure that you stick to the ACAS code

Keeping records

If you get to the point where you are in a position to dismiss the employee, then the fact that you’ve kept notes all the way through will benefit you if the employee tries to take you to an employment tribunal.

Any time you try to call them, make a note of the date and the time. If you leave a voicemail, make a note of what you’ve said. If you send them a text or email, keep a copy of this. All AWOL letters should also be kept. This then builds up a timeline of events, which will show any judge, that you have tried your hardest to make contact with them, that you’ve been reasonable, and that you’ve warned them that if they do not get in touch by a specific date they could be facing a disciplinary or they could be dismissed.