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What is considered job abandonment?

Job abandonment occurs when an employee does not report to work as scheduled and has no intention of returning to the job but does not notify the employer of his or her intention to quit.

Employers should develop a policy defining how many days of no-call/no-show will be considered job abandonment. No federal law specifies the number of days; however, in some states, case law might establish what time period is reasonable, and state unemployment agencies might do the same. Three to five full business days is a common measure and provides employers with enough time to investigate the absence (but not so long an amount of time to put the organization in a position of holding a job for someone who will never return).

Employers are cautioned not to assume that all no-call/no-show absences are automatic job-abandonment cases. Occasionally, employees are unable to contact their employers, such as in medical situations, incarceration or some other form of crisis. Employers should develop investigation procedures, including contacting or attempting to contact the employee as well as sending a termination of employment letter explaining the employer's position and asking the employee to contact the employer if there are circumstances that could potentially change the employer's action (e.g., medical emergency).

Finally, employers should follow established termination procedures, such as updating the employee's file with documentation; noting both the last day worked and the termination date; sending COBRA and insurance forms, if applicable; and cutting the final paycheck according to state requirements. An employee's termination date may not be the same as the last day worked and will depend on the employer's job-abandonment policy. In the case of a three-day rule, an employee may be terminated at the end of the third business day or retroactively back to the last day worked once the three days have passed. A sound policy will provide clarity to ensure that job-abandonment situations are handled consistently.


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