Absence from work

Unauthorised absence

Unauthorised absence is when someone does not come to work and gives no reason for their absence or does not contact their employer.

Other terms people might use include:

  • ‘AWOL’ or absent without leave
  • absent without permission

The employer should try to contact the absent employee as soon as possible, including using any emergency contact they have.

If contact cannot be made, the employer should discuss the absence with the employee when they come back to work.

If the employee cannot provide good reason for the absence and lack of contact, the employer might consider further investigations for possible disciplinary action.

If the employee is struggling to attend work

The employer might consider formal action if their employee:

  • keeps taking sick leave or being late (some HR systems have ‘trigger’ points to keep track of attendance records)
  • has unauthorised absences
  • seems to have trouble doing their job