Read this before you dismiss an AWOL employee or be prepared for an unfair dismissal case

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 09 Jan. 2015

Tags: awol employees, absenteeism without permission, dismissal, dismissing an employee who’s gone awol

Want to know why so many employers find themselves at the CCMA or Labour Court for unfair dismissal?

It’s simple.

They deal with absenteeism without permission or AWOL incorrectly, say the experts at the Labour & HR Club.

And if you decide on the spot that your employee has absconded or deserted with the intention to never return and dismiss him, he can take you to the CCMA and he’ll probably win too.

So before you act hastily and dismiss your AWOL employee, read this article. We’re confident the information we have for you will help you deal with your employee correctly and help you avoid an unfair dismissal case.

Here’s what you need to know about dismissing your AWOL employee

Absenteeism without permission is a disciplinary offence and you must deal with it as misconduct, says AWOL! Your guide to dealing with employees who abscond.
This means, if your employee goes AWOL, you must hold a disciplinary hearing and give him a chance to justify his absence.
In terms of labour law, dismissal is normally too harsh for a first offence. This is also true if the absence is for a short period and there’s a reasonable explanation for it.
But for repeat unauthorised absences or one of an unreasonably long time, you can dismiss your employee. You can also dismiss if, for example, your employee plays a key role and his absence holds up production and causes you major losses.
*********** Advertisement **********
What can you do when you think your employee's gone AWOL?

Your employee hasn’t shown up for work all week. And you have no idea if he’s ever coming back to work!

You’ve tried getting hold of him to no avail.

What can you do when you think your employee has absconded?

You have to follow the right process before you dismiss him

Click here to find out how to deal abscondment legally…


This example shows how to deal with a case of an employee who’s gone AWOL

Tom’s a security guard. He works the night shift at a warehouse.
His supervisor decides to visit the site at 22:30, but he doesn’t find Tom in the security hut. Nor is he patrolling the warehouse premises as required on an hourly basis.
The supervisor waits for about 30 minutes, until he sees Tom coming with food and a drink. Tom explains that he usually brings his own lunch to work. But he forgot, so he went to the nearest petrol station to buy food.
Tom’s supervisor then decides to hold a disciplinary hearing.
During the hearing, Tom admits he can contact the control room via telephone or radio. But he didn’t call to get permission or help in getting his food.
Following the hearing, Tom gets a first written warning for unauthorised absence. This because the premises were at risk for about 30 minutes.
While this is quite a serious offence, those taking part in the hearing concluded dismissal would be too harsh. They decided a written warning is good enough especially since this is Tom’s first offence.
There you have it: We hope this information will help you deal with your AWOL employee correctly so you can avoid an unfair dismissal case.
PS: For more information on dealing with employees who’ve gone AWOL, check out AWOL! Your guide to dealing with employees who abscond.

Related articles:



Jorge 2017-05-26 12:25:08

Asked to be off, and it was approved by the owner then the flowing day got an email requesting that I resign or face a disciplinary hearing for AWOL.

What should I do?
Please help

Phakam Nsele 2017-03-23 05:36:39



RSS Facebook Share the experience
Labour and HR Club
  • CCMA
  • Discipline
  • Dismissals
  • Employment Equity
  • Employment terms and conditions
  • Foreigners
  • Laws / Acts / DoL
  • Leave
  • Performance management
  • Policies and procedures
  • Recruitment
  • Trade unions
Our experts
Wouter Booysen
Robyn Walasan Johria van den Bergh Tracey Ndlovu Andrea De Jongh Ulrich Stander Kirstin van Bever Donker
I need to know if consecutive leave days include public holidays? Should I be forfeiting leave days if they fall over...[read more]
Published at 13 Dec. 2017 1 answer
A staff member asked to take leave for three weeks in 6 months time to visit his elderly mother in Australia. This was...[read more]
Published at 26 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Hi, I work 5 hours a day (8am to 1pm). Am I entitled to any sort of break?[read more]
Published at 16 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Good morning, Kindly confirm if the below constitute for family responsibility leave please. I fell ill two days...[read more]
Published at 08 Jan. 2018 1 answer
Published at 18 Dec. 2017 1 answer
My domestic worker told me she is pregnant, she will be working for me for about 2 years now and we have not registered...[read more]
Published at 06 Feb. 2018 1 answer
Video Archive Video club
Your library of Free eReports
View full library