What to Do With an Employee Who is AWOL?

Managers and entrepreneurs have a hard time keeping track of employees and getting them to work. One of the major challenges that they end up facing is when an employee goes missing. These cases have employees who won’t receive your call or who’ll never respond to the voice calls that you leave. There are certain techniques that you can employ to deal with such bewildering situations.

Have a policyIt is essential that you make make it very clear as to what your expectations are when it comes to applying for leave of absence. Although most companies practise having a comprehensive leave of absence policy, they fail to specify that employees are expected to stay in contact with the company during leave. It is not practical to come up with a policy that covers all loopholes but there are always certain elements that a sound policy can incorporate to make it more effective.

  • Have a requirement which makes it compulsory for employees to maintain contact with their supervisor, the HR manager or another company official;
  • Make it clear that being in contact implies having verbal communication with the supervisor or the personnel in charge;
  • A good policy should make it compulsory for the employees to provide relevant information about the status of their absences;
  • Make it clear that failure on the employees’ behalf to comply with the obligations stated in the policy might lead to disciplinary action against the employee.

EnforcementLay a legal groundwork using which you can implement a progressive discipline to enforce leave of absence policy against AWOL employees. What most employers don’t understand is that in situations like these they hold a leverage. A leave of absence is not a license for unwarranted behaviour by employees. A leave of absence gives them the right to be excused from work but it does not release them from the obligations of the company’s terms and conditions.

Coming up with a method that would help solve the problem with out resorting to disciplinary action would be something that would benefit all the parties involved. An effective method to deal with the aforementioned situation would be to send the employee a note or a voice mail message telling the employee that they are required to get in touch with the supervisor by a specific deadline or else they will be subject to progressive discipline.

Content of warning noteThe content of the warning note or voice-mail is very important. Try keeping the tone non-confrontational as the purpose of the communication is to reach a diplomatic solution.

A note or voice-mail message should always cover certain ground that:

  • Cites the absence policy that requires the employee to maintain contact with the supervisor;
  • Attempts made to contact the employee have been made and documented;
  • Expresses concern regarding the employee’s well-being.
  • Gives a deadline to the employee for responding.

Document your warningIt is important that the efforts to warn the employee to get in touch or face progressive discipline are well documented. If a written note was issued, then maintain a copy in the employee’s file.

If it comes down to issuing a note or voice-mail message, then it is generally a turning point. More often than not, employees respond and often situations like these are a by-product of miscommunication. If that’s not the case, then imposing disciplinary action is the last resort.

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