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HR 101 – Desertion and the AWOL Employee – Part 3

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Over the last two weeks we have had a look at an example of desertion where the employee just did not ever come back to work and one where the employee did come back to work. This time let’s look at a different example.

So bring in the protagonists – Mike owns a chain of retail stores in various busy malls across the country.  George is one of his managers. Let’s use the busy Christmas time type scene again.  It’s a Thursday morning and Jane (the Assistant Store Manager) calls Mike to tell him that George has not arrived for work and there is a queue of clients (as well as the rest of the staff) waiting for the store to open.

Understandably, Mike is somewhat annoyed but he hurries off with the store spare keys to open up.  Mike tries to contact George on all of the numbers that he has to no avail and then resigns himself to the fact that George won’t be in for the day.  Mike’s procedures are well documented and he goes about doing a formal hand over to Jane, who grabs the opportunity willingly as she wants to prove herself and get ahead.

On Friday (day two) Jane advises Mike that once again George has not arrived at work and they try and contact him again, leaving messages all over.

Saturday (day three), Jane again advises that George has not arrived at work and again they try and contact him, leaving messages for him everywhere.

Sunday (day four), Jane makes the call again to advise Mike that George has not arrived for work.

Monday morning early George arrives together with a long story of how he was kidnapped.  Mike, who was furious, now feels remorse about his anger and now starts feeling pity for his traumatised employee instead. A thought keeps popping into his head however because for someone who was kidnapped and physically restrained (as per George’s story) and held without food or water in a dark room, there is no visible signs of any trauma.  Mike decides to ‘keep it tidy’ and asks George for the Police Case Number and hospital records where George was ‘checked out’ to ensure that he was okay, for the records.

Several days later after much nagging, George breaks down and admits that there is no case number as he did not report it to the police and he did not go to the hospital because well, there was no kidnapping.  The actual event that took place was that George went out drinking with his friends on the Wednesday evening and they continued to drink through the night and then all of Thursday too.  At some point it was decided in their alcoholic haze that they needed an excuse as to why none of them had gone to work and they came up with the kidnapping story.  The alcoholic binge had continued through Friday and Saturday as well and George had slept through Saturday night and all day Sunday which is why he was able to return to work on Monday morning.

Furious again, Mike brought disciplinary charges against George for being AWOL (following the correct procedures of course) and George was found guilty.  The days that he had been off were calculated as unpaid leave and the money was deducted from George’s salary.  George’s elaborate story also had consequences.  George was demoted and lost his title of Manager and Jane was promoted into his position.

That concludes the examples of the difference between ‘Desertion’ and being AWOL.  Next week we will look at a new topic.

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