Ghosting: Where Do You Stand When Your Employee Goes AWOL?

We are regularly asked the question about AWOL employees and what to do when you are phoning and leaving messages for employees and it is proving impossible to contact them or track them down.

Recent figures from jobs website CV-Library found that 2.8m workers or 10% have simply left their employer without any formal resignation or explanation given – a phenomena which has been dubbed “ghosting”. The problem is also occurring at the recruitment stage – in a survey of 600 UK recruiters, LinkedIn found that almost half had seen an increase in ‘ghosting’ since the beginning of 2018.

This issue of ghosting may be more prevalent in the care industry, due to Zero Hours Contracts. Essentially, some staff have gone missing for long periods of time and then returned to the organisation. The effect of this, is that they have accrued annual leave, potentially passed the two years of employment mark and therefore gained full employment rights with the organisation.

What can you do when an employee ghosts?

As an employer, you have an obligation to an employee’s safety at work, and if you suddenly find an empty desk with no prior warning or notice, what do you do? Although there might be a genuine reason for an unsolicited absence, there is a chance that the employee might have left and taken another job. In this case, you need to be armed with the right legal information to deal with the situation effectively.

We would always advise trying to arrange welfare meetings with employees in these situations and making contact in any way that you can by email, phone, post etc. If you have contacted the employee and not heard anything you could move to more formal action i.e. disciplinary process or possible termination. It is crucial to seek the advice or your dedicated DLP advisor before coming to these decisions and ensuring the process is insured.

Paying for a ghosting employee?

Although there is no obligation to pay an employee who does not come to work, legally they will still continue to accrue holidays and potentially any entitlement to commission or bonuses, so it’s important to contact them and discuss their situation. If the employee has more than two years’ service, it is crucial that any dismissal is for a fair reason and it is procedurally fair to avoid an unfair dismissal claim. Therefore, from a commercial perspective, it is imperative to take action sooner rather than later.

In essence, the general rule and main piece of advice is to “do something”. It is important to take some action quickly, effectively and safely when an employee is ghosting the organisation to ensure you are protected legally and financially. We are just a phone call away and unlike a ghosting employee—we will answer…

Should you have any questions feel free to reach out to our help line. DLP advisers are available to answer any questions you may have—24 hours a day—at 0330 400 4454.

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