Job Abandonment

An employee who does not report to work when expected or call in to report their absence for five consecutive days or more may be considered to have abandoned their position and, depending on the personnel program (PPSM or collective bargaining agreement CBA) that covers the employee, may be subject to separation or dismissal without prior discipline.

To help you decide whether dismissal or separation is warranted, consider the following:

  • What is the employee's performance and behavior record? Have there been previous no-show occurrences?
  • Have there been recent absences for illness or personal problems?
  • Are you aware, or do you suspect, that the employee is a substance abuser?
  • What are the employee's leave accrual balances?
  • Have other employees provided information to you in confidence?
  • Have you attempted to contact the employee by phone? By email? How many attempts have you made?
  • How has your department dealt with similar situations in the past?

You must attempt to communicate in writing to the employee before making a decision to dismiss or separate. A Notice of Intent letter to the employee should: 

  • Inform the employee that they are absent without approval.
  • Require immediate clarification of his/her status or explanation of the absence.
  • Specify to whom and by when this information must be provided.
  • Inform the employee that they will be considered to have abandoned their position if they fail to comply with this requirement.

If the employee responds to this demand for information and returns to work, disciplinary action may be appropriate (see Chapter 22, Taking Disciplinary Action).

If the employee fails to respond and/or return to work, check the appropriate CBA or PPSM Policy to determine the next steps. Policy and some CBA's indicate that job abandonment is considered a resignation. Other CBA's provide that the employee be dismissed by the process outlined in the appropriate contract. In either case, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your Central HR Business Partner or Employee Relations Consultant, who can help you consider your options.