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How To Identify Job Abandonment & 3 Actions You Can Take

Dominic Kelley
Posted by Dominic Kelley on September 28, 2020

It is an unfortunate reality that, on occasion, a team member may fail to come to work for a period of time. This puts great strain on other team members and can negatively impact patient care.

For practice managers, the question is when they may deem the job abandoned and hire a replacement. Fortunately, you can prepare for this scenario by having a clear practice policy on the matter. When the circumstance arises, there are specific steps to take to protect your practice and fulfill your obligations to the employee.

What is Job Abandonment?

A team member may fail to report to work for many reasons. Abandonment has a specific definition: the individual doesn't come into practice and does not communicate with the practice leader. This person also does not request leave. To qualify as job abandonment, the "no show, no call" has to last for multiple consecutive days. You will cite a precise number of days in your employee handbook. Many practices specify that job abandonment occurs after two days of no contact.

Steps to Prepare for and Handle Job Abandonment

Even if it appears someone has abandoned their job, the practice leader should follow certain steps before recruiting a replacement. After all, there may have been an emergency, or the team member may have been unable to come in -- or communicate -- through no fault of their own. 

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to prevent this kind of miscommunication. Set expectations in writing about communication, reporting to work, and arriving on time. That way everyone will try to keep in touch -- even in the middle of a crisis.

Returning to work is particularly complex during the global health crisis. HR for Health can help you navigate these issues during trying times.

Step 1: Outline Your Job Abandonment Policy

Include a job abandonment policy in your employee handbook. This is essential for two distinct reasons. First, it provides a transparent, easy-to-follow guideline for team members. It removes the possibility that an employee may appear to abandon their job out of simple misunderstanding. Second, practice leaders can apply a policy fairly, free of personal feelings or emotions. A policy is an objective.

Also, recall that punctuality and attendance is closely linked to job abandonment. Your employee handbook should also have a clear policy on these issues. List essential details, like who to call if a team member has a personal emergency or otherwise cannot come into work on a particular day.

Step 2: Reach Out to the Employee

If an employee does not come to work and does not communicate, the practice leader should reach out and try to contact them. Use the phone number and email you have on file. These kinds of situations are why it's also a good idea to have alternate contact information in case the first is unsuccessful.

Remember to stay considerate and open-minded. An emergency may be the underlying reason the employee is not at work. Choose your words with care. Document the date and time of each contact attempt for the employee record. In your voicemail and email, leave a number where the employee can reach you, in case they do not have the information on hand.

Step 3: Process Job Abandonment as a Resignation

If you still hear nothing from the employee, and the time outlined in your employee handbook has passed, you can go ahead and determine that the employee resigned. If the team member is in a protected class by virtue of age, disability, pregnancy, or other factors, consult an HR specialist or lawyer. There may be additional obligations to this individual that you must fulfill.

For employees NOT in a protected class, fill out resignation paperwork, and complete the following:

Mail a final paycheck and two copies of all relevant forms to the employee. Enclose a stamped return envelope so the employee can sign each form and mail it back to the practice with ease. Include at least the following forms:

  • Change in Relationship. This form should directly quote the job abandonment policy as listed in your employee handbook.
  • Final Paycheck Acknowledgement. This confirms the former team member has gotten any outstanding pay and other entitlements.

When you mail the final paycheck, arrange for delivery confirmation so you know when the employee receives the documentation.

Recommended Reading: How to Conduct a Compliant Termination

When you're ready to hire a new employee, HR for Health can help you with interview guidance, application documents, and offer letter templates.

Optimize Your HR Processes

Medical professionals prioritize serving patients and families. They rely on their team members to contribute to an efficient and welcoming practice. It's increasingly important to have professional HR support for issues that arise. Job abandonment is one of those HR challenges that HR for Health can make it easier. To learn about our solutions, including an employee handbook customized to your medical practice, as well as performance management and time and attendance tracking software, talk to us for an HR consultation today.


Learn more about today's common HR challenges and how to handle them with the experts at HR for Health. Schedule a call, call (877) 779-4747, or email now to learn more.

HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. 

Topics: termination, employee conflict, compliance, employee issues, office policies

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