Avoid a St Patrick's Day HR hangover

Alan Hickey

March 10 2020

Due to the coronavirus, many of this year’s major St Patrick’s Day parades have been cancelled. Regardless, employees may have time booked off that they still intend to make use of.  

While employees are free to have fun, their celebrations shouldn’t interfere with your right to run your business. As we all know however, “fun” can sometimes go too far. If so, you might find yourself understaffed after the weekend celebrations.

If this is the case, what should you do?  

Ensure you have an absenteeism policy in place

It pays to have a written policy in place that outlines how you deal with employee absence. It will help you and your employees to handle both short and long-term absences in a fair and consistent manner.  

Has the employee complied with the policy?  

An absenteeism policy should require employees to notify management of their absence as soon as possible. Confirm if the employee has made any efforts to contact you in the manner required by your policy.  

Try to establish contact

Try to make contact with the absent employee to establish the cause of the absence. It’s good practice to ensure you record the time and the methods you used to establish contact.

What about pay?  

There is no general obligation to pay wages during unauthorised periods of absence. That is, of course, unless the employment contract states so. Otherwise, the employee has no entitlement to receive pay during unauthorised absences.

Schedule a return to work interview

You should conduct a return to work interview with the employee once they return. Depending on the employee’s explanation, it may be necessary to take action under your disciplinary procedures.

Dealing with repeat offenders  

If the employee is a repeat offender, it may be time to begin formal disciplinary action to put a stop to intermittent short-term absences. Last year, the Workplace Relations Commission confirmed that frequent absenteeism can justify dismissal.

Take a measured approach

Unauthorised absences can occur for myriad reasons. They can be frustrating and costly for your business. Still, a knee-jerk reaction will only aggravate the situation. Carry out a thorough investigation into the circumstances before deciding what action to take. 

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on unauthorised absence from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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