Not unlawful absence

08 Sep 2009

summary dismissal for failure to turn up for work usually requires advance warning.

Summary dismissal for failure to turn up for work usually requires advance warning.
Employers should make sure that a written warning has been issued before summarily dismissing an employee for failure to show up. This principle was underlined by the High Court in a recent judgment.
The case concerned an employee who was summarily dismissed because he failed to turn up for a meeting that had been agreed with his employer.
The employee had been employed to sell hobby equipment and worked mainly from his home. At the meeting, he and the employer were scheduled to discuss opportunities for additional sales. But the employee did not show up until the next day to hand over his telephone and car keys before going on holiday. One week later he was summarily dismissed.
The employee claimed that he was entitled to salary during the notice period because he found the summary dismissal was unfair. The employer, on his part, argued that the failure to show up had been unlawful and also claimed that the employee had terminated the employment by not showing up.
The Court ruled in favour of the employee and established that the summary dismissal was not justified. In light of the fact that the employee did not work from the company's address on a daily basis, his failure to turn up for the meeting did not warrant a summary dismissal as there had been no advance warning. The employer being unsuccessful in convincing the Court that the employment had been terminated by the employee, the Court disregarded the employer’s submission in that regard.


Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that the case shows that a summary dismissal for unlawful absence will often be held to be unjustified in the absence of an advance warning.