What should an employer do if an employee who is usually reliable fails to turn up for work?
If a usually reliable employee fails to attend work and does not contact the employer to inform it of his or her whereabouts, the employer should make reasonable efforts to contact him or her to ascertain the reason for the absence. Ideally, it should do this at an early stage, usually within a few hours of the employee's work start time. The purpose of making contact is primarily to make the employee aware that the employer has noted, and is dealing with, the absence. However, the employer may also be concerned about the employee's wellbeing, particularly where he or she is usually reliable, as the lack of contact is more likely to indicate that there is a problem (for example a family emergency or accident). It may be appropriate to try to contact the employee's next of kin if attempts to contact the employee fail.
If the employer is unable to make contact with the employee on the first day of absence, it should try again the following day and follow this up with a letter, if necessary, asking the employee to make contact. The employer's ongoing attempts to make contact should continue to reflect the possibility that there may be a genuine reason for the absence, particularly in cases where the employee is usually reliable.
The employer should keep a record of all the attempts that it makes to contact the employee. If and when he or she returns to work, the employer should have a conversation with him or her to discuss the situation and the reason for the absence. If the absence is attributable to issues at work, such as bullying or harassment, the employer will need to investigate further. However, if the employee offers no good reason for the absence, the employer may treat it as a disciplinary matter. The employer may take the employee's record of reliability into account when deciding what level of disciplinary action is appropriate.