HR Home Forums Answer for Unable to reach employee on medical leave

Conner Lantz
Post count: 4836

You’d be surprised how many times that Q comes up. At some point, you can consider an AWOL employee to have abandoned the job and terminate his/her employment. The hard part is figuring out when.
The usual standard is that the employee must demonstrate a clear and unequivocal intent to abandon the job. But when employees on leave go underwater, it becomes a matter of reasonableness. First Q: When did the employee originally say he was coming back? If he did give a specific date and that date has passed, you have a stronger case for reasonableness. And the fact that he was with you only 3 months also minimizes the amount of time you need to wait before reasonably considering the job abandoned.
But it’s not just time. You must also be able to prove that you took reasonable steps to reach the employee and find out if he 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.
Hope that helps. Glenn