How to manage unauthorised absence

How to manage unauthorised absence

31 August 2022

Share this blog

What is unauthorised absence?

Unauthorised absence is when an employee fails to attend work without a valid reason or permission to be absent. It can also occur when an employee fails to follow the correct reporting procedures for absence. On occasion, it can happen when an employee reports their absence and the reason provided, isn’t believed to be genuine by the employer. Unauthorised absence is often referred to as an employee being AWOL and an employee doesn’t need to be absent for a full day for it to be classed as unauthorised. If an employee is late and doesn’t notify their employer, then the time between their contracted start time and when they actually arrive for work can be classed as unauthorised.

Why does unauthorised absence happen?

Unauthorised absence happens for lots of different reasons. Most of the time it tends to come under the traditional category of someone throwing a sickie but there can be other reasons such as:

  • Annual leave being requested and refused but the employee decides to take the day off anyway
  • Having no annual leave left but needing or wanting to take a day off
  • Travel problems or being unable to afford to get to work
  • Reluctance to attend work due to bullying, harassment or a disciplinary issue
  • An emergency situation occurs and the employee doesn’t have the time or capacity to follow the correct reporting procedure

What should I do if an employee is AWOL?

The first step should always be to try and make contact with the employee so that you can hold a conversation about why they aren’t at work. It might also be reasonable to try and get in touch with an emergency contact or next of kin particularly if it is out of character for the employee to not turn up. If no contact is made though then you should write to or email the employee and request that they get in touch by a set deadline. This may prompt a response and you can then meet with the employee to discuss the situation and decide on a course of action. This might include a disciplinary sanction or if no contact is made then you should continue to follow your AWOL procedure. This may result in dismissal if the employee fails to respond to your attempts to contact them.

Are employees paid for unauthorised absence?

This will largely be determined by company specific rules and policies around acceptable reasons for absence and what is in an employee’s contract. So make sure to always check first.

Can HRX help my business to deal with staff who are AWOL?

It sure can! HRX gives you a return to work form as part of its knowledge base. By having a robust absence management process, that includes return to work meetings, you are likely to dissuade staff from unauthorised absence as the majority will not want to lie when asked directly about their absence on their return. HRX also holds staff contact information which is there at your fingertips if someone doesn’t show up for work. No need for you to waste time digging in a filing cabinet for a number that they gave you 10 years ago and is likely to have changed. In addition, if you need to get in touch with their emergency contact, then their details are saved in the employee details section as well. The absence recording function in HRX allows you to record unauthorised absences as a separate category. This ensures you can keep accurate information and report on it to look for patterns of absence behaviour.

HRX therefore equips you with a number of tools to help you to deal with unauthorised absence and nip it in the bud before it starts to cause you and your business headaches. Find out more by taking HRX for a spin with our free 30 day trial.

Similar Blogs


How to effectively manage staff workload

One of the cornerstones of running a productive, successful business which is full of happy and thriving employees is to ensure that the workload of those employees is managed effectively. If you have everyone working at their maximum, day after day, then you’re soon going to end up with staff who are stressed and burnt…
View Article

10 November 2022


What happens if an employee leaves without notice?

When an employee leaves without giving notice or if they give short notice, it can create a number of headaches and questions for their employer. Can I spread the leaver’s work out among the rest of the team until a replacement is found? Who’s going to attend the meetings they had booked in? Do I…
View Article

1 November 2022


How to create a staff rota

Creating a staff rota for your business can be a real headache. It may seem like a simple task but in reality it can prove incredibly challenging to get your rota right. An effective rota is an essential part of running a business in many sectors such as retail, hospitality, health care, transport and manufacturing….
View Article

20 October 2022

Take it for a spin

It’s so easy to set up a free 30-day trial and we promise you once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look back.

Need HR advice? Call us on

0115 786 0705

Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm

30 days free No credit card required Quick & Easy

Request a Callback

Contact Us
When is the best time to call