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Absenteeism and desertion


Absenteeism is when an employee is habitually absent from work.

Typically, absenteeism refers to a frequent lack of attendance—rather than authorised absences or irregular, unavoidable issues, such as sickness.

An employer should track staff attendance and keep an eye on repeated absence from work.

Regardless of the reason, employees are not entitled to be absent without leave from work or from their workstations, during working hours. The Company’s disciplinary code provides for severe disciplinary action where employees infringe this policy.

Where an employee is absent unexpectedly for reasons of ill health or unavoidable reasons, the employee must complete a leave form on his first day of return to work and submit it to his senior, immediately. Management may ratify the absence should circumstance merit it and if acceptable proof of the reason for the absence is submitted by the employee.

However, in all cases of such absence, the employee/his immediate family member is required to contact the company to convey such information.

Staff need to call in on the day of absence, to provide the reason for the absence and the expected duration of the absence. In this regard, should an employee fail to speak directly to his line report, the employee will be held responsible should a message not reach his line report.

Any absence from work without authority or good cause will result in the employee not being

entitled to any remuneration for the period of absence. The employee will also not be entitled to payment should he fail to submit a valid medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner and has been absent on two or more occasions during an eight-week period.

Any employee who breaches the above requirements will be subject to discipline in terms of

the Company’s disciplinary policy. Sanctions against employees found guilty of misconduct

could range from warnings to dismissal depending on the severity of the absenteeism and

the number of previous warnings, if any.

Causes of Absenteeism

The causes of non-culpable absenteeism are generally not a big concern. Because employees inform managers ahead of time, they won’t be able to work, the impact isn’t as serious as with the unanticipated, culpable absenteeism. The causes of culpable absenteeism are important, as they can provide managers with important feedback, either about a single employee or about workplace morale.

Numerous surveys done by organizations and consulting groups have identified the three most common causes of absenteeism: personal health concerns, demands of children/family and lack of motivation.


Desertion and Abscondment refer to cases where an employee stays away from work for a

longer period, but with the clear intention not to continue with employment, this intention

being evident from the employee’s conduct or communications.

Employees must report for duty and not take leave without the prior authorization of their manager or director. If an employee fails to report for duty, for 3 – 5 (or more) consecutive working days, without leave or acceptable notification of reason for their absence, proceedings to commence with termination of employment on the grounds of absconding will commence.

What are the Employer’s obligations in terms of locating the Employee?

There are a number of ways in which the Employer can attempt to locate the Employee, including but not limited to, calling, emailing, text messaging or sending the Employee correspondence by registered post to the Employee’s last known address, informing him or her that he or she is required to report for duty at the workplace, and that, unless he or she returns to work within a reasonable period (which must be specified in the correspondence), he or she will be regarded as having deserted the workplace and his or her services will be terminated accordingly.

When sending the correspondence by registered post, the Employer should ensure to retain proof that the correspondence has been dispatched and delivered. If the Employer does not have an address for the Employee, the Employee should make every effort to get a message to the Employee for example via the Employee’s family members or next of kin if same is stated in the Employee’s personnel file.

If the Employee returns to work by the specified date in the above-mentioned correspondence or messages sent, the Employer is entitled to enquire as to the reasons why the Employee was absent from work and why he or she did not notify the Employer earlier in respect of the reasons and circumstances which caused the absence without notice. The Employer can then, based on the explanation given, decide whether or not to take disciplinary action against the Employee.

DRG Outsourcing

DRG Outsourcing Article: Absenteeism and desertion

By Zambezzi

As an influencer my team and I create content or co-create content to support brands, endorse product and services with the intent to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

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