Home - When can you lawfully discipline an employee for absenteeism?

UpdatesJun 18, 2014

When can you lawfully discipline an employee for absenteeism?

Absenteeism is a problem for organisations because they have to arrange for the work of the absent worker to be done by others. This might involve rearranging the workloads of employees, which may cause some employees to experience excessive workloads. Alternatively, the work is not undertaken with potential adverse effects on the business.

But can you actually lawfully discipline an employee for absenteeism?

By Charles Power

Absenteeism refers to circumstances in which an employee is absent from work on personal/carer’s leave on a frequent basis.

Absenteeism is a problem for organisations because they have to arrange for the work of the absent worker to be done by others. This might involve rearranging the workloads of employees, which may cause some employees to experience excessive workloads. Alternatively, the work is not undertaken with potential adverse effects on the business.

But can you actually lawfully discipline an employee for absenteeism?

Today Charles Power will explain when you can – and cannot – lawfully discipline an employee for absenteeism.

Employee Absenteeism and Your Obligations Under Employment Law

Absenteeism is a legal issue when you:

However, long-term solutions to excessive absenteeism can only be achieved through affective human resource management measures, such as:

What Options Do You Have When it Comes to Employee Absenteeism?

If an employee is exercising a right to take paid personal/carer’s leave or unpaid carer’s leave the employee will have a protection under Part 3-1 of the Fair Work Act from being subject to adverse action from you against the employee because he or she is exercising the right or intending to exercise the right.

Contravention of this provision will expose you to civil liability as well as a general protections claim. Adverse action refers to any conduct subjecting the employee to a detriment or disadvantage. It includes dismissal, disciplinary measures, loss of job benefits or even subjecting the employee to ridicule because they are absent on sick leave.

However, this protection does not prevent you from disciplining an employee because:

Regards,

Charles Power

Editor-in-Chief
Employment Law Practical Handbook

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