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Job Abandonment: What to Do When Employees Ghost You (Sample Policy)

5 minute read

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where an employee has pulled a no call, no show on you? What should you do in circumstances like these? What are your rights as an employer? How should you go about job abandonment?

job abandonment

Fear not, we have all the answers to these questions and more that will guide you through the steps of job abandonment.

Let's get started.

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What Is Job Abandonment?

Job abandonment is when an employee is absent from work for consecutive days and hasn’t given any prior notice, nor have they given any indication that they will return to work.

This unresponsiveness is generally grounds for voluntary termination of employment. (Yes, an employee who stops showing up to work in a voluntary termination not an involuntary one). However, in order to have a voluntary termination of employment, the employer must comply with their job abandonment policy and any laws that protect the rights of employees, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and Disabilities Act.

When Is Absence from Work Considered Voluntary Job Abandonment?

The time before absence from work turns into a voluntary job abandonment differs across organizations. Normally, it’s when an employee misses three consecutive days of work without any notification. But check your organization’s job abandonment policy just to make sure. However, even after a no call, no show, employers still have a responsibility to employees that they must fulfill.

In most cases of a ‘no call, no show’ absence from work, employers are still obligated to find out the reason for the absence. This is mainly because sometimes employees are unable to notify the employer about their absence from work for various reasons that are out of their immediate control, such as:

  • Medical emergencies
  • Personal crises
  • Natural disasters
  • Incarceration

Failure to adequately investigate the absence can result in wrongful termination of employment claims.

Check your employee handbook to see whether there’s a paragraph on job abandonment policy and voluntary termination. If you can’t find any information, get in touch with HR consultants for advice. Otherwise you risk making HR mistakes that can be easily avoided with proper consultation.

job abandonment

Why Does Job Abandonment Occur?

There are various reasons employees are driven towards job abandonment. This is why it’s important that you develop a job abandonment policy that will protect you from any unsolicited 'termination of employment claims' and holding a position for someone whose absence from work is unjustified.

The most common reasons job abandonment occurs is due to the employee being too embarrassed or afraid to resign in person, receiving a better offer elsewhere, or being unable to meet job requirements.

Another reason job abandonment and voluntary termination of employment occurs is when an employee is unaware of the company's absenteeism policy. Perhaps they don’t realize how their absence from work will affect their employer.

What Should You Do When Employees Ghost You?

Ghosting is term used to describe an employee who has seemingly vanished without any notification and will not answer your inquiry. Basically, they've given you the cold shoulder. Beardless, it's still your responsibly to attempt to make contact because when you haven’t heard from your employee, it’s time to raise a red flag.

Here’s what you should do:

Attempt to contact the employee

The first thing you should do is try to contact the employee, either by phone, email, text message or any other channel of communication. The idea is to make an attempt to reach the individual and understand the reason for their absence from work and whether or not they will be returning.

Have an absenteeism policy

Having an absenteeism policy helps maintain employee protocol and protects employers from no call, no show situations. It clearly states the organization’s views on absences from work and defines a set of rules that employees must follow if they need days off without being liable for voluntary termination of employment.

Don’t make rash decisions

Unless the employee is guilty of more than one no call, no show in the past month, you shouldn’t make any rash decisions. Give the employee the benefit of the doubt and wait for them to call with a reasonable explanation for their absence from work. Perhaps they’ve had some kind of medical or personal crisis that prevented them from calling in. Although job abandonment is never a good thing, you should give the employee some time, or speak to an HR consultant, about what your next move should be. Of course, having a plan on paper before you need one is the best course of action.

job abandonment

Make necessary payouts

Pay the employee what they’re entitled to. This includes all hours, overtime, and commissions. Keep in mind that you can’t withhold their final paycheck as a means to get the employee to return any company property currently in their possession.

Be consistent with termination

Your absenteeism policy should be the same for everyone. You can’t turn a blind eye to someone that’s had three no call, no shows while you go ahead with the termination of employment process for someone who’s failed to call in only once. Be consistent to ensure a fair company structure, discipline and transparency.

What Should You Include in Your Job Abandonment Policy?

If you don’t have an employee absenteeism policy in place, you should create one as soon as possible. Not having a well-defined absenteeism policy can cripple your work flow and result in you holding a position for someone that doesn’t take it seriously. Your job abandonment policy should be written with the help of an HR consultant and your legal team to ensure it covers all the essentials.

job abandonment

The points you should include in your job abandonment policy are the following:

  • Leave expectations – What do you expect from the employee in terms of timely notification of absence? Here you should list how many consecutive days the employee can miss from work without notice before a voluntary termination of employment is upheld.
  • Disciplinary measures – What actions will you take against the employee if they fail to notify their supervisor of their absence from work? Here you should list that you will consider their absence from work as grounds for voluntary termination of employment.
  • Alternative measures – What can the employee do if they cannot personally notify you of their absence from work? Make sure you let employees know that they can assign a representative (usually a family member or friend) to contact their employer on their behalf.
  • Final decision – What will you base your final decision on whether or not to terminate employment? Explain to employees that you will consider their explanation for their absence from work before the voluntary termination of employment takes effect.

Want to learn more? Check out our job abandonment sample policy here: 

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