At the heart of every business is the people, when they’re not there it has a big impact.

So what about when a staff member goes missing? No phone calls, letters, emails or social media.

In some cases, there’s a good reason. It could be that there has been a sudden death or serious accident in the family, which has resulted in all thoughts about work been removed from the employee’s thinking. Or the employee may have fallen ill and been admitted to hospital. But not always. Some may just not turn up, without warning. The position most employers then adopt is that the employee has “dismissed themselves”.

Unfortunately, this can back-fire if the employee suddenly re-appears and then claims that they have been unfairly dismissed.

If they have less than two years’ service then there is little the employee can do about making a claim for Unfair Dismissal.  There are exceptions to the two-year rule however and as an employer you need to always take the safe path of ensuring that the termination has been dealt with fairly.

Like most things in Employment Law the key is a matter of being able to show that all reasonable steps have been taken before making such a decision.

There’s lots you can do:

1.       Try to make contact and record any attempts

2.       Write to them and outline the terms and conditions of their employment and any disciplinary procedures that may follow

3.       If there’s no response, write again requiring them to attend a disciplinary hearing and warning any likely dismissal if they fail to attend

4.       If the employee fails to attend then write confirming that a decision was made in their absence, as advised in your previous letter, and that their employment has ended without notice.  Set out their right to appeal and how they should do so.

Letters should be sent recorded delivery (a second copy by email if you have this information) but this does not always guarantee receipt by the employee.

If all else fails seek legal advice but above all make sure you have adequate insurance in place. This is a vital safety net for when disaster strikes and will give you peace of mind.

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