No matter how compelling the reason (and employees come up with loads of them), missing work without permission is unacceptable.
In a recent appealed court case, Matter of Rivers v. Commissioner of Labor, the ruling stands that an employee’s unapproved absence was properly deemed misconduct and as such, made the employee ineligible for unemployment benefits.
The employee, an automotive technician, requested time off to spend time with his son returning from Iraq. He was approved for one day. But when he decided to extend his family visit two additional days without approval, he opened an unintended door. When he returned, he was fired for misconduct and as a result, couldn’t file for unemployment.
If we were to step out of the “employer’s advocate” arena for a moment, we might feel an emotional pull regarding the employee wanting to reconnect with his son. But rules are rules. Most employers have a clear employee attendance policy that outlines the request/approval process … and specifies that a “no show” is grounds for disciplinary action or termination. That’s your first line of defense. Your second line, regarding using “misconduct” as a basis for denying unemployment benefits, is showing that the employee deliberately and willfully engaged in activity that showed a complete disregard for your workplace standards and policies.
This employee overstepped his bounds on both counts … and suffered the consequences.