Contracts of employment are heavily based on the virtue of discipline, expected to emanate from both parties.
Section 2 of the Employment Act defines a contract of employment as “an agreement, whether oral or written, expressed or implied, whereby one person agrees for a wage or other benefit or both to let his labour to and to perform it under the orders of another person who agrees to hire it.” It is evident this type of agreement has two parties involved in it and for it to function properly, both parties are expected to uphold their end of the bargain hence the discipline aspect. Furthermore, conditions of service, company HR policies and procedures and the employment law as we know it, provide a guide on the overall expectations.
The Employment Act provides minimum terms and conditions for all employees, better explained as basic employment rights. This Act informs both employers and employees of what is considered lawful and what is not in an employment relationship. Unfortunately, this Act does not always outline or cover everything in black and white. One such aspect is the matter of absconding from work, read on to understand this further!
Absconding from work is defined as an instance where an employee fails to report for work for a specific number of days without prior notice or the knowledge of their respective supervisor. It is mostly common that if an employee fails to turn up to work for three days at the very least without prior consent, then the said employee would be believed to have absconded from work.
It is however very safe to say that the number of days is solely dependent on the company’s internal operations, this is to say if a production company requires 100 percent of its employees to report for work each working day, then a day or two of unauthorised absence can cause a lot of harm. The million-dollar question is what does the law say about such? Keep reading!
The Employment Act is not exactly explicit on the matter of absconding, it only touches on it in a very vague manner. Section 26(1 and 4l) of the previously mentioned Act mentions this under termination of contracts of employment without notice as follows: “Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Part, the employer may terminate any contract of employment without giving notice of his intention to do so or making any payment such as is referred to in section 19(a) or (b) where the employee is guilty of serious misconduct in the course of his employment.
For the purposes of this section the term “serious misconduct” shall, without prejudice to its general meaning, include or be deemed to include the following: persistent absence from work without permission.” The Act does not provide a definition of what exactly persistent means, as such it is left for companies or employers to fill in the gaps hence my statement above. The Act does not even distinctively mention nor define the phrase absconding from work, rest assured this does not mean it does not exist and that employees cannot be reprimanded for such.
The Employment Act goes hand in hand with company human resources policies, where the Act falls short the policies ought to cover. A brilliant example is the above-mentioned issue, HR policies must outline what absconding from work is and how many days qualify for it.
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