Absent employees – Journal – DAWN.COM

Of all the problems of indiscipline faced by industrial and commercial establishments, unauthorized absence from work is of most concern. This not only hinders operations, but also generates administrative problems in organizing replacements, which increases costs.

In a Karachi organization with more than 10,000 employees, incidents of theft, fraud and dishonesty were 33%, followed by unauthorized absence from work at 31% and acts of indiscipline at 15%. % during the period January 2021 to November 2021. The remainder included cases of dereliction of duty, conflict of interest and harassment. This chronic absenteeism problem is also encountered by companies in developed countries. Employers continue to think about ways to curb this trend.

Occupational health and safety experts view high rates of absenteeism with concern. Such behavior indicates that employees may have health issues or that they may not find the right environment. They consider all types of absences other than annual leave as days lost due to absenteeism.

In order to encourage employees to maintain attendance, organizations offer various incentives: a) a good attendance allowance for employees who do not take time off work in a calendar month; b) an attractive travel allowance paid daily to employees only when they come to work; c) full payment of annual bonuses to employees, who have no unauthorized absences during the year.

The holidays authorized by law are quite generous.

The amount of leave and public holidays granted to employees by law is quite generous. Under the Factories Law, they are entitled to 14 days of annual leave, 10 days of casual leave, 16 days of half-paid sick leave (in Sindh it is 16 days at full pay), 52 days of weekly rest in addition to 10 public holidays. in a year. Employees of stores and establishments can also benefit from the same number of holidays and public holidays. Female employees are also entitled to 12 weeks maternity leave, or 16 weeks full paid leave in Sindh.

In progressive companies, annual leave is usually increased to 20 or more days per year, either through a collective labor agreement with the union or otherwise. In these companies, two days a week of rest days equals 104 days a year.

After having taken advantage of so many vacations and holidays, there is no reason why an employee remains absent without leave. However, in exceptional circumstances such as illness or family emergency, he may request unpaid leave.

Engaging in excessive absenteeism constitutes a serious breach of discipline for which an employer can take legal action against the offending employee. According to section 15 of the Employment in Industry and Commerce (Regulations) Ordinance 1968, late attendance or habitual absence without authorization constitutes misconduct. The absence of an employee from work without leave for more than 10 days is also a fault.

One of the minor offenses is faking, that is, pretending to be sick to avoid duty. Some organizations allow their employees to take one or two days of sick leave without presenting a medical certificate. It is quite common among employees of these organizations to abuse this privilege as casual leave.

The primary responsibility for enforcing discipline within an organization rests with the employer. When a national investigation against an employee for professional misconduct is underway, the government labor department or the labor court are not supposed to intervene at this stage. As a result, the courts refuse to grant an employee’s grievance request in such cases until final action has been taken against him by the employer.

However, an employee can go to court if their grievance against the employer appears to be unfair labor practices as defined in section 17 of the Sindh Industrial Relations Act 2013.

In view of the foregoing facts, the following reservation to a clause in Article 21 (3) (v) of the Sindh Conditions of Employment Regulations (Regulations) 2015, describing various acts and omissions constituting misconduct, no. ‘is not desirable and should be omitted – “[H]absence without authorization or absence without authorization for more than ten days; provided that when a worker is prevented by the employer from entering the factory (gate-bandi), the ten day time limit does not apply, provided that the worker reports the incident to the labor office concerned within seven working days of the door-bandi.

The provision encourages employees to blame their unauthorized extended absence on their employer, thereby promoting absenteeism within the organization. Nonetheless, an employee has the right to take legal action if they believe that their services have been unfairly terminated by the employer.

The writer is an employee relations consultant at Aga Khan University.

Posted in Dawn, December 20, 2021

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