If an employee who’s on a leave of absence hasn’t returned our calls, would this be considered abandonment of employment? What steps can we take next?
To get out of notice and other termination obligations on the grounds of abandonment, the employer must prove 2 things:
- The employee demonstrated a clear and unequivocal intent to abandon the job; and
- The employer took reasonable steps to reach the employee and find out if he/she intends to return.
It sounds like you have tried to contact the employee but he/she hasn’t returned your calls. In that situation, you should keep on trying on the general understanding that the more time that passes and the more attempts you make, the stronger your case for abandonment. Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of days or attempts after which you can definitively treat the absence as abandonment. It’s also absolutely CRUCIAL to maintain records documenting your repeated attempts to make contact for your potential legal defence in case the employee re-emerges and claims wrongful dismissal.