Great guest post here from Alan Hickey Associate Director of Advisory at Peninsula Ireland.

Ireland’s national holiday and the Cheltenham racing festival are two major events on the Irish social calendar. While employees are perfectly entitled to enjoy the races and the St Patrick’s day fun, their celebrations should not interfere with your right to run your business. So if employees overdo it over the long weekend and don’t show up for work, what should you do?

Ensure you have an absenteeism policy in place

It pays to have a written policy in place that clearly outlines how you deal with employee absence. It will help you and your employees to handle both short or long-term absences in a fair and consistent manner.

Has the employee complied with the policy?

An absenteeism policy typically requires employees to notify management of their absence as soon as reasonably possible. Confirm if the employee has made any efforts to contact you in the manner required by your policy.

Try to establish contact

If the employee has not made contact, try to make contact to establish the cause of the absence. It is good practice to ensure you record the time and the methods you used to establish contact.

What about pay?

There is no general obligation to pay wages during unauthorised periods of absence. Unless the employment contract states otherwise, the employee has no entitlement to receive pay during unauthorised absences.

Schedule a return to work interview

You should conduct a return to work interview with the employee immediately on their return to the workplace. Depending on the employee’s explanation, it may be necessary to take action under your disciplinary procedures.

Dealing with repeat offenders

If the employee is a repeat offender, it may be time to begin formal disciplinary action to put a stop to intermittent short-term absences. The sanctions for repeat offenders can include dismissal. The Workplace Relations Commission confirmed in two recent unfair dismissal cases that absenteeism is a sufficient reason to justify the

dismissal of employees. In both cases, the intermittent nature of the absences was the determining factor.

Take a measured approach

Unauthorised absences can occur for myriad reasons. They can be frustrating and costly for your business but a knee-jerk reaction is only likely to aggravate the situation. Carry out a thorough investigation into the circumstances before deciding what action to take.

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