What Should You Do When an Employee

What Should You Do When an Employee "Ghosts" You?

Have you ever been “ghosted” by an employee? That is, have you had a worker who just didn’t come to work one day, who didn’t call, who didn’t even send an e-mail? Strangely, this scenario is not that uncommon, and it presents an uncomfortable question for employers: what just happened? Did your employee quit? Are they okay? Should you reach out to their contacts? Go to their home? Simply move to terminate their employment?

We are all human, and emergencies and other unforeseen situations can occur that are out of our control. A good employer will recognize this fact of life and will make allowances for such situations. Generally, however, it is the employee’s responsibility to contact their employer within a reasonable timeframe and notify them of a scheduling issue or emergency. But what if a few days pass and you have no news?

Terminating the employee immediately would not be a good idea. If you are not following your company’s written policy for such circumstances, you open yourself up to potential legal liability. Additionally, if it turns out the employee is gravely ill or facing a domestic violence dispute, you could also face liability for violating applicable employment leave laws. Lastly, employers that are too quick to terminate tend to foster a poor corporate culture which will affect employee morale and, in turn, productivity.

The best solution to this problem is to have a clear written policy, accessible in your employee handbook, and to make sure you follow it. Many employers have a 3-day “no call/no show” termination policy, although variations exist for different industries.

Before termination, it would be prudent to first try to contact the employee. A phone call, text, e-mail, and even certified letter are all good options. It’s not necessary to go to the employee’s home, but somehow an employer must make proper attempts to contact the employee.

If your attempts to contact the employee are unsuccessful, you may then attempt to contact an employee’s listed emergency contact. In cases of a major medical emergency, an employee might not be in a position to contact the office or to respond to phone calls or e-mails. The employee’s emergency contact will be able to help answer your questions and provide you with relevant information.

If all of these routes fail, it would be reasonable for an employer to proceed with termination, in keeping with company policy. An experienced attorney can help you draft a comprehensive “no call/no show” policy that will address such a situation. As always, make sure your policies and the implementation of those policies align with the healthy company culture you are trying to foster.

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