Unauthorized leave

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

Occasionally, one of your employees might fail to turn up to work without a valid reason. It goes without saying that you don’t want this to happen, and when it does, you ne ed to manage it correctly.

Even occasional unauthorized leave issues can cause problems, including missing deadlines, impacting revenue, and reducing employee engagement of other staff.

And managing the issues incorrectly could lead to an employment tribunal.

In this guide, we’ll explain what an unauthorized absence from work is, how to manage these absences, and the disciplinary process surrounding unauthorized absences.

What is unauthorized leave?

Unauthorized leave is when an employee is absent without giving a reason.

This unapproved leave of absence can cause staffing and logistical problems for you, and also leaves other employees in the lurch. Unexcused leave is also known as an unauthorized leave of duty.

What’s the difference between unexcused and excused absence?

Excused leave is leave that’s been approved, for example vacation or sickness leave. Unexcused absence is when an employee takes time off without your approval. How to manage unapproved absences from work

Unexcused absence is a problem for employers across Canada. It’s imperative you have a clear absence policy in place that covers the procedure on reporting absence.

Having a clear policy will avoid any conflict and make your employees aware of the following:

  • How to request leave.
  • Vacation and sick pay rules.
  • Who to report absences to, and how.

You could include process upon returning to work, for example holding return-to-work interviews.

Return-to-work interviews help to discourage staff from taking unapproved absences, as they’ll have to explain the reasons for the time-off.

This policy should be stated in the employment contract or handbook. And employees should be made aware of it when they start.

What is a suitable unauthorized absence punishment?

As an employer, a verbal warning could be given for a first unauthorized absence offence. This could be followed by a meeting with a manager and an unexcused absence write up. Then for a further offence - a final written warning.

If the behaviour doesn’t improve, you should consider dismissing the employee.

You don’t have to punish an employee every time. Something more important than work might’ve prevented them from showing up. You should consider the employee’s work record and find out the reasons for the leave before deciding how to proceed.

Can you get fired for an unexcused absence?

If an employee is consistently absent from work without a valid reason, this could lead to their employment being terminated.

You must follow the correct disciplinary procedure before dismissing staff for this reason.

You need to include your disciplinary procedure for unauthorized absence in the employee handbook alongside your absence policy. Make sure you keep your policy current by making changes to match any new legislations.

Termination for unexcused absence should be seen as a last resort.

How to prevent unauthorized absence

There are many reasons an employee might take unapproved time off, it’s important you discover the cause. They could be dealing with personal problems, be unhappy in the role, or suffering from workplace bullying.

After the absence, set up a meeting with your employee to discuss the situation. In this meeting, make sure you discuss:

  • Your concerns regarding the absences and how it impacts their work and colleagues.
  • What you can do as an employer to help the situation.
  • Your right to request more details if they have stated sickness as the reason. For example, a doctor’s note.
  • Explain your attendance expectation and put together an attendance plan to get them back on track.

By opening a dialogue with an employee, it may improve your relationship – but also help to decrease absenteeism.

Get help with your absence management today with BrightHR

It’s important that you understand unauthorized leave correctly. Not doing so can leave you with staff level issues.

If you need assistance with your absence management, BrightHR has several tools which will make the whole process easier for you.

Our staff vacation planner and sick leave and lateness tools allow you to manage employee absences in seconds.

Contact us on 18882204924 or book a demo today.

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