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Terminology Explained: What is Abandonment of Employment?

Published September 12, 2016 (last updated on July 2, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


In simple terms, abandonment of employment is the term used when an employee is absent from work for consecutive days, without communicating to their employer the reason for their absence.

When an employee fails to attend work without a valid reason, an employer should follow certain steps before making the assumption that the employee ‘is gone for good’.

Firstly, an employer should attempt to contact the employee via a telephone call, an email, a work colleague or their next of kin. It is possible that personal matters have occurred and the employee was not able to contact their employer directly.

If no contact can be made, then a letter should be mailed to the employee’s residential address, requesting them to contact the company within a specified time-frame. Include in the letter who the employee must contact, and advise that failure to respond may be interpreted as abandonment of employment. Ensure the letter is sent by registered post, so that you are able to track its delivery and confirm that it has been received by the employee.

In most cases, it is reasonable to assume an employee has abandoned their employment if they are absent without communication for a period of 14 days. However, some Modern Awards stipulate the specific circumstances for determining whether an employee has abandoned their employment. We recommend you contact Peninsula for professional advice if you are experiencing an absent employee.

Employers are advised to include a policy in their employee handbooks which clearly outlines the number of days missed before an employee’s absence is considered to be resignation due to abandonment.

As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, Peninsula can advise on common staff absenteeism matters and your obligations as an employer. Contact us today on 1300 651 415.

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