Leaving Work Without Permission

Published on: January 12, 2012
Filed under: Discipline, Leaving Work Without Permission

Leaving Work Without Permission

Ah, summer days, sunshine, and the many distractions that come with the season are only short months away.  What to do then when an employee decides to leave work for the day before the end of their scheduled departure time, or leaves early for lunch or their break, when they should be performing their duties?  Of course summer is not the only time when a staff member may be away from work without permission.  In looking at this type of situation, a quick review of the arbitral jurisprudence is in order.

The obligation of employees to maintain regular attendance requires not only that they consistently show up for work on time, but also that they do not leave without proper authorization.  Even if it only involves a brief period of time, leaving work early has always been regarded as a disciplinable offence.  Indeed, employees who persist in such behaviour and/or attempt to claim remuneration for the period they were absent, risk losing their jobs given that they are seeking a benefit (remuneration) that they are no longer entitled to given the absence of work being performed.

An exception may be made when an employee experiences a serious illness or some other personal emergency and/or no member of management is readily available.

Some employees may argue that they told a co-worker to pass along to a manager that they are leaving work, instead of asking the manager directly.  It is generally the case that an employee who relies on others to discharge what one arbitrator has described as this "inherent feature of the employment relationship", does so at his/her peril.

I hope you find this helpful.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

Charles Jamieson



(Reference: Canadian Labour Arbitration, Brown and Beatty)

Tags:  Labour RelationsPeople Management


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