If a colleague is absent from work without authorisation, here are the steps we’ll take to deal with the matter. All template letters and forms can be found below. This process should be read along with the Unauthorised Absence Policy.

1) Contact with manager

If a colleague doesn’t come into work and hasn’t followed the absence reporting or sickness certification procedure, their manager will try to call them to find out what’s happening – and will leave a voicemail message if there’s no answer. Managers should record the date and time of each attempt to contact the colleague – the Unauthorised Absence Recording Form (below) can be used to record this information.

If the manager can’t get hold of the colleague, they may call their emergency contact to find out if they’re okay – particularly if the colleague is under 18 or if their manager has concerns about their welfare.

If the manager speaks to the colleague, they’ll ask them why they haven’t been able to attend work or follow the absence reporting or certification procedure. If the employee has a good reason for this - for example, because they’ve been involved in an accident or there’s been a family emergency - managers should discuss and agree with them when they’ll be back in work. They may agree a period of Emergency Leave or Compassionate Leave or for the colleague to take holiday to give them time to deal with things.

But if the colleague doesn’t have a good reason for their unauthorised absence, or if the manager still can’t contact them, they should invite the colleague to a meeting to talk about this further and then decide whether to proceed to a disciplinary meeting. We’ll also do this if the colleague shows up for work before their manager has been able to contact them.

2) Unauthorised Absence letter

If we don’t manage to contact the colleague by the end of the first day of their absence, managers will send them an Unauthorised Absence letter (see template letters UA1-5, below) by first class post or delivered by hand.

The colleague should contact their manager as soon as they get this letter to explain the reason for their absence. Depending on the circumstances, we may invite the colleague to a meeting to talk about their unauthorised absence in more detail before deciding what to do next. This may involve disciplinary action being taken, including summary dismissal.

3) Invite to disciplinary meeting

If the colleague doesn’t contact their manager within three days of the date of the Unauthorised Absence Letter, the manager will send a letter (template letter UA6, below) inviting them to a disciplinary meeting. This will be sent by first class post and Recorded Delivery.

Colleagues will always get at least 48 hours’ notice of any disciplinary meeting. There’s more information about holding a disciplinary meeting in the Disciplinary Policy.

The colleague can have either a work colleague or trade union representative come along to the disciplinary meeting with them. More information about the role of representatives can be found in the Guide to Workplace Representatives.

If the colleague returns to work or provides a Fit Note before the invite to disciplinary meeting has been issued, the manager should conduct an investigation into the matter and then decide whether to progress to a disciplinary meeting.

4) Disciplinary meeting

In the disciplinary meeting, we’ll give the colleague the opportunity to explain the reasons for their unauthorised absence before deciding on the outcome.

If the colleague doesn’t turn up for the meeting without good reason we’ll go ahead and hold it without them – we’ll then make a decision based on the information we have and confirm it in a letter. Managers should record the points they’ve considered, the decision they’ve taken and the reasons for this. In exceptional circumstances - for example, if managers believe there could be an underlying health issue behind the colleague’s absence – we’ll rearrange the disciplinary meeting (template letter UA7, below).

If the colleague returns to work or provides a Fit Note at any point after the invite to disciplinary meeting has been sent, we’ll still hold the disciplinary meeting as scheduled to talk about the reasons for their unauthorised absence.

5) Outcome of disciplinary meeting

Following the disciplinary meeting, the manager should consider all of the information and decide whether disciplinary action is appropriate in the circumstances. If the manager decides to summarily dismiss the colleague (dismissal without notice) they should confirm this in a letter (template letter UA8, below), which also explains the colleague’s right to appeal. The letter will be sent by first class post and Recorded Delivery or may be hand-delivered.

Remember that the dismissal only takes effect on the day that the colleague is informed of it – so this will be either at the disciplinary meeting if they’re given the decision then, or if the letter has been sent by post, on the date they get the letter (i.e. the day after the date we’ve posted it).

6) Next steps for managers

If the colleague’s been dismissed, managers should process them as a leaver on the HR system.

If after an investigation or disciplinary meeting, managers decide that the colleague did have a good reason not to attend work or for not following the absence reporting or certification procedures, they should decide if the colleague should get paid for this period. If so, they should tell the colleague and contact HR Shared Services as soon as possible so that this can be paid in the next available payroll (no ad-hoc payment will be processed). If managers are unsure whether the colleague should be paid for this period, they should contact ER Services for advice.

7) Appeal

If a colleague appeals against their dismissal, we’ll follow the steps set out in the Disciplinary Process to deal with this.