Rights of Employee for Job Abandonment

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Businesses will always have employment issues, no matter how many workers they have on the payroll. One of the most frustrating employment situations is job abandonment, in which an employee doesn't show up for work. Your company has likely outlined the consequences of this action, but in most businesses, the traditional ruling is termination after three days of "no-call no-show" action, unless the employee can prove extenuating circumstances. No matter the reason, the terminated employee still has rights connected to his former employment, and ignoring them can put you, the employer, on the wrong side of the law.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

If an employee abandons his job, he's entitled to receive any wages that are due and to the same continuation of benefits as employees who voluntarily quit their jobs.

What is Job Abandonment?

Job abandonment happens when an employee leaves a job and has no intention of returning to it. In addition, she gives no notice to the employer of her intention to quit. This is also known as a voluntary termination. Not all no-call no-show cases are those of job abandonment. An employee may have an emergency in which it's impossible for her to contact her employers, such as incarceration, medical emergencies, natural disasters or other crisis situations. The circumstances surrounding the absence will determine whether the case is truly one of job abandonment, leading to a no-call no-show termination.

What Financial Rights Do You Have After Abandoning a Job?

Even if an employee has been legally terminated after abandoning a job, he still has financial rights related to his former employment. There is no legal definition for job abandonment, so a company's response should be written in their formal HR policy. Each company must respect the legal rights of former employees, though.

Wages Due

Employers aren't allowed to keep any wages due to the former employee, even if they are still in possession of company property. Each state has its own regulations on when the person is to be paid, but for the most part, the final paycheck should be given on the next day the former employee would have been paid.

Unemployment

In most cases, job abandonment is considered to be voluntarily leaving a job. This makes a former employee ineligible for unemployment benefits. Exceptions to this rule generally include cases where the employee feels it would be dangerous for him to continue working or other compelling reasons such as:

  • Discrimination
  • A substantial reduction in pay or hours without cause.
  • Harassment
  • Threats of termination.

Retirement and Benefits

If an employee abandons his job, he's entitled to the same continuation of benefits as employees who voluntarily quit their jobs. If he has a health care plan through his work, he is entitled to 18 months of coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, commonly known as COBRA. If he has contributed to any retirement or pension plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, he's entitled to all of these funds. Other benefits, such as unused sick pay or holiday pay, may be due, depending on the company's HR policy on job abandonment.

References

About the Author

Victoria Bailey has owned and operated businesses for 25 years, including an award-winning gourmet restaurant and a rare bookstore. She spent time as a corporate training manager in the third-largest restaurant chain in its niche, but her first love will always be small and independent businesses. Bailey has written for USAToday, Coldwell Banker, and various restaurant magazines, and is the ghostwriter for a nationally-known food safety training guru.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images