Author: Cecil S. Burgoon
Job abandonment is a situation where an employee fails to advise supervisors that he or she has no plan to return to work. If the employee does not show up for a designated shift or fails to come back from lunch or from a break, does this fit the requirement for job abandonment?
There isn’t a legal definition for job abandonment, so the definition of what constitutes abandonment has to be defined in company policy. For example, if the employee requested time off, but hasn’t received approval and take the time off, is he considered to have resigned?
Company policy can dictate that three shifts missed without contacting the supervisor constitutes job abandonment. Without that policy, the company is in a difficult situation, especially if there potentially are situations involving other associates who have been terminated for more or less absences. The degree of inconsistency can be used against a company in a legal process.
Since most cases of job abandonment are considered to be voluntary resignation, there typically is no unemployment benefit eligibility. Having a policy that clearly delineates what the company’s responsibility is and the employee’s responsibility is useful if the employee contests the employer’s decision.
Even if the employee abandons the job, if there are wages due, the law requires them to be paid. States vary with regard to when these wages must be paid, but generally they are due on the next date the associate would have been paid.
As an employer, it’s usually a good practice, although not legally required, to reach out to contact the employee who fails to show up for work. For the records, a certified letter will detail the terms for abandonment. If the employee doesn’t contact the company within a certain number of days with a reasonable explanation, the employer can then terminate the employee for job abandonment.
Policies for absenteeism and continuation of medical coverage in the event of job abandonment will facilitate the steps to take and the expectations for all parties. It’s prudent for employers to document each step of a job abandonment termination.
Having a policy and termination process in place that’s clearly documented will pave the way for situations in which job abandonment is suspected.