Guest Blog by Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson of ELAS Group.
The current Riyad Mahrez saga raises an interesting question – as a business owner what would you be able to do if one of your employees acted in the same way?
Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson is an employment law consultant for the ELAS Group. He explains:
There will always be occasions where employees are not happy with something that has happened in the workplace. It could be that they have lost out on a promotion or a pay rise, or it could be something even simpler. On most occasions this won’t lead to anything other than a bit of discontent, and the employee might be in a bad mood for a little while afterwards.
However, there will occasionally be a time where an employee is particularly unhappy about something that has gone against them and they may storm out, or not return to work the following day, or both – as Mahrez did when he realised he would not get his dream transfer to Manchester City.
It’s important for employers who find themselves in this scenario to act quickly and not let the situation try to resolve itself. There are two reasons for this. Either the employee could come back in the next day and, if you don’t take immediate action, they will be seen to have got away with their actions, which is a dangerous precedent to set or, alternatively, the employee may not come back for a significant period of time but, if you don’t take action, they will still legally be employed by you.
You also cannot assume that an employee has resigned if they walk out. It would not legally be considered a resignation and if you assume they have, you could be seen to have actually dismissed them.
If someone storms out, you should make attempts to contact them the same day and take note of when you tried. If you can get through to the employee, ask them to take the evening to cool off and to come back in to meet with you first thing the next day to talk through their concerns. Hopefully, by having an open line of communication, the employee can work towards resolving their concerns and will be happy to return to work.
If it becomes clear during this conversation that they have genuine concerns, it would be best to remind them of their right to raise a formal grievance. This will allow you to conduct a full and proper investigation into the matters that have been raised.
Should the employee not respond to your calls and fail to come back to work the following day, it is advisable to continue trying to contact them for a day or two. If you still have no contact you can commence an AWOL procedure with the employee, whereby you send a letter asking for a response within 7 days. The range of options available to you if that is also ignored varies but can include dismissal. It is advisable to take advice before reaching any final decisions.