Ask the ExpertCategory: QuestionsGhosted by Employee
hri_Admin Staff asked 3 years ago

BC Employer here. We had an employee go on EI Medical leave in February (we dont have STD). When it came time to transition the employee to our LTD plan, the insurance provider declined the claim. Their deadline to appeal the decision was the end of September. The employee has stopped returning calls or responding to emails. The insurance provider is calling into question if the employee is meeting the definition of an employee if they are not on an LTD claim. How long can an employee ghost their employer before their employment is terminated?

1 Answers
Glenn Demby Staff answered 3 years ago

Yeah, I get that Q a lot. I like your phrasing of “ghosting” but as a matter of law, the Q is at what point can you deem a missing employee as having abandoned the job and end his/her employment. The answer, of course, is it depends. First of all, you can’t invoke abandonment if the employee still has time under the leave. Based on the way you phrase the Q, I assume that is not the case here. I also assume that the employee hasn’t demonstrated a clear and unequivocal intent to abandon the job.
So now it becomes a matter of reasonableness. And even though there’s no formula for amount of time, one thing is very clear: To show abandonment, you must be able to prove that you took reasonable steps to reach the employee and find out if he/she was coming back. Sounds like you’ve been doing that. Find out if anybody else at your organization has spoken to or knows how to reach the employee.  Very importantly, keep detailed records of all attempts to make contact, including time, date, method and results. And if you decide to pull the plug, send written notice explaining your reasons to employee’s last known address.
The other thing I’d do is turn the Q around on the LTD carrier. They probably deal with these situations all the time. How long do THEY (and their counsel) usually give a missing employee to resurface? Their answer isn’t quite the same as legal counsel but it may help–kinda’ like I hope this response does. Good luck and let me know what happens. Glenn
BTW, here’s a good piece on this subject from the HRI blog