Here at the Co-op, we trust that you’ll always come into work when we expect you to. But if you’re absent from work without authorisation, we’ll view this as a serious matter which we’ll investigate and deal with appropriately.

This policy should be read alongside the Unauthorised Absence Process, which sets out the steps we’ll take if a colleague is absent without authorisation.

Crucial bits

Unauthorised absence, or being absent without leave (“AWOL”), is when you don’t come into work when you’re supposed to and haven’t got authorisation from your line manager for taking the time off. Things that we’ll consider to be unauthorised absence include:

  • not following the Co-op’s absence reporting procedure
  • not providing certification for a period of sickness absence
  • not returning to work after being on annual leave or other authorised period of leave
  • taking time off work after having a request for annual leave declined
  • failing to attend work for any other reason without authorisation

If you’re unable to attend work for whatever reason, it’s really important that you follow the absence reporting procedure set out in the Co-op Absence Policy.

Just so it’s clear, you won’t be paid for any period of unauthorised absence.

Disciplinary meeting

As you’ll appreciate, unauthorised absence is a serious matter which may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

If you’ve been absent without authorisation and don’t give us a good reason why, we’ll invite you to a formal disciplinary meeting to talk about the issue. We expect you to do your best to attend - but if you or your chosen representative can’t make it, speak to your manager as soon as possible letting them know dates and times you can make and they’ll try to rearrange it for a time that works for everyone.

For more information about disciplinary meetings, see the Disciplinary Policy.

You can have either a work colleague or a trade union representative come along to any disciplinary meeting with you. There’s more information about the role of workplace representatives in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

Things to think about

Contact with your manager
If there’s a reason why you’ve not been able to attend work or follow the absence reporting procedure – like you’ve been involved in an accident or there’s been a family emergency – you should contact your manager as soon as you possibly can.

If you don’t come into work and haven’t followed the absence reporting procedure, your manager will try to call you – and possibly your emergency contact as well. So it’s really important that all your contact details are up-to-date on the HR system.

It’s also important that you answer any calls from your manager or respond to any voicemail messages they leave. Your manager will be trying to understand what’s happening and how they can help you to return to work.

If you don’t make contact with your manager, they’ll follow the Unauthorised Absence Process.

If you need further support

If you have any questions about unauthorised absence, please speak to your manager. Managers should read the Unauthorised Absence Process and then if they need further advice should contact ER Services.

You may need additional support, so remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can help. You can contact the EAP in confidence on 0800 069 8854.