How To Manage An Absent Worker Under Modern Awards

Sometimes workers fail to turn up to work without an explanation. As an employer, that’s a messy situation to manage.

Of course, the first thing you need to do (as a matter of urgency) makes contact with the absent employee and/or their emergency contact person. But if no-one can be reached, there are strict processes involved that you must follow.

Modern Awards And Absentee Workers

In modern awards, there is a clause that specifies the employer’s responsibilities when an employee is absent from work for 3 consecutive working days without an explanation or approval.

In essence, if an employer doesn’t hear from a worker within 14 days from their last day of work, the worker is deemed to have abandoned their employment. As a result, their employment can be terminated.

Commission Proposes New Process

The Fair Work Commission is proposing a significant change to this clause. While not in place yet, it is something all employers need to be aware of.

In essence, the Commission is proposing the onus of proving abandonment of employment is the employer’s responsibility.

As such, it is up to the employer to make contact with the missing worker to ascertain the reason for their absence. That includes phone, email and mailing the worker and/or their emergency contact or nominated next-of-kin.

In practical terms, this also means all employers will need to implement systems to ensure all communication details are regularly updated for workers and their nominated emergency contacts.

If the employer is unable to make contact with the missing worker, it will be unable to terminate employment for 3 months from the beginning of the absence. However, the Commission’s proposal includes the option of putting the worker on unpaid leave during this period.

The Fair Work Commission is currently receiving feedback from industry groups on these proposed changes.

Keeping Up-To-Date

Building a competent team is supposed to reduce the workload of SME business owners but managing people in a compliant manner can sometimes feel like a tortious obligation. That’s where End2End Business Solutions can assist you.

Our experienced team of HR specialists can help you develop easy-to-manage systems and adapt to the ever-changing requirements of employment law. It starts with a conversation so call End2End on 02 8977 4002 to see how they may be able to help you recruit and manage your team.