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What Is Job Abandonment?

If an employee leaves the job but does not notify the employer, it may be considered job abandonment.
People who abandon their jobs are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
There is no legal definition for job abandonment -- which occurs when an employee leaves a job without notice.
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  • Written By: Bethney Foster
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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Job abandonment is when an employee has no plans to return to work but fails to notify supervisors of a resignation. It may occur when an employee repeatedly fails to show up for scheduled shifts, walks away in the middle of a shift, or fails to return to work from a break. In this type of abandonment, the employee does not call or notify supervisors of plans to be absent.

Job abandonment may be broached if an employee fails to get approval for repeated absences. This may mean the employee requested time off but the request was denied and the employee did not work required shifts. There is no legal definition for job abandonment. What constitutes job abandonment is generally defined by a company’s policies. Many companies have a policy that if an employee misses three shifts without contacting the supervisor, the employee is considered to have resigned.

Though there is no requirement for the employer to do so, the employer may attempt to contact an employee who doesn’t show up for work. A letter may also be mailed. The letter may ask the employee to contact the employer within a specified time frame to discuss the absences or the employee will be considered to have abandoned the job or voluntarily resigned from the position.

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In most instances, job abandonment is considered a voluntary resignation. This means the employee is not eligible for unemployment benefits following termination. Once the employee is terminated, a letter is often mailed to the employee. This letter is generally called a notification of termination due to job abandonment.

Wages the employee has earned before the termination must be paid. The law regarding when the wages must be paid varies by state, but in most states the wages must be paid on or before the next scheduled payday. Whether the employee is able to claim benefits available to a recently resigned employee, such as continuation of medical coverage for a period, depends on the particular employer.

Human resources professionals advise employers to have policies in place regarding absenteeism so that it will be easier for them to take action should they suspect an employee is not planning to return to work. As with other employee relation issues, employers are advised to document every step in the process when making a job abandonment termination. Employers are also advised to have an investigative and termination process for situations in which job abandonment is suspected.

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Discuss this Article

anon934304
Post 14

I worked for FedEx as a temp driver during the holiday season two years ago. My route was already long and it became nearly impossible heading into Thanksgiving.

One night after a 13-hour shift, I came home to my daughter and decided it wasn't worth stashing her with sitters for so long every day. I just stopped going to work.

It was irresponsible and selfish, and my boss, who was a very good boss, didn't deserve what had to be the resulting stress. I wish I had done things differently, but I don't necessarily regret it.

anon347714
Post 13

If an employer decides to take away lunch breaks for all employees, and an employee decides to go get a lunch anyway and then comes back after lunch, is that job abandonment?

anon340331
Post 12

A friend of mine who is also a supervisor walked out on her job. She explained that she was collecting money for an employee who was leaving the company to present at a pizza party. Everyone was putting in a dollar in a card as a good-bye gift. The director came into my friend's office and in front of the other staff, told her that this could not be done. The director embarrassed my friend.

Apparently, my friend walked into her office and asked why this was the case. The director took it personally and said it's not in the policy, but that she just didn't want it done. So in other words, she just wanted to humiliate my friend in front of her co workers. My friend yelled at her and walked off the job.

I said she could have called me first before walking off the job, even though my friend's husband works. Things could have been handled differently. I always say cooler heads prevail.

anon336124
Post 11

I manage a large retail store at a casino. No shows/No calls are rampant. Kids today are just ignorant. Even if they decide to call out saying they are sick, we usually find out later from the FB status that they were partying instead of sick. Then they call out again because now they are sick from partying. Or, instead of calling the store and speaking to a manager, they will text a friend at work to say they aren't coming in. This leaves the rest of the staff stressed and overworked.

I am dealing with this right now with two employees. Instead of focusing on customers, I am left babysitting employees.

anon333097
Post 10

I own a small and a very busy store. One day, in the middle of a lunch rush with customers lined up, one employee decided to get mad because I asked him to move faster (one customer waited 14 minutes for one sandwich). He walked out a few minutes later. The remaining employee I had that shift was his friend, so he ended up walking out as well after 30 minutes.

It was actually a relief on my part that they walked out, as both were on the verge of getting fired anyway, but I still do not understand why a simple "move faster" can get a person mad when I am always respectful and nice when I tell them to do that. Also, both badly needed a job.

I also manage another store, so I ended up getting two employees to get to my first store and help out so I was not bothered at all. Guess what? The next day, both called me and tried hard to get their jobs back and I told them "no."

wavy58
Post 9

It's strange to me that even though job abandonment means unemployment benefits are not available to you, some people just decide to leave on the spot. They let their anger over a situation at work get the best of them, and they wind up with no source of income at all.

Anger can get a person in a lot of trouble like this. I have a friend with a bad temper who has abandoned several jobs, some in the middle of the day and some just by not going back the next day, and he has wound up crashing at friends' houses several times because he had no money.

OeKc05
Post 8

@giddion – It all depends on the employer. I would say that it is best to call in every day, because that shows that you are responsible and still interested in keeping your job.

I worked with a guy who called in sick on a Monday with the flu. He told our boss that he would probably be out for several days.

Well, that was the only day that he bothered to call in. After three days went by, the boss tried to call him multiple times but got no answer.

He finally showed up to work the following Monday. The boss had already begun to consider writing him a job abandonment termination letter, but since he did come back to work, the boss just sat him down and lectured him about the importance of keeping in touch with him during an absence.

giddion
Post 7

I have a question about calling in sick. If you have something that is likely to make you ill for several days, do you have to call in sick every day or just on the first day? If you fail to call in every single day, will this be considered job abandonment?

Kristee
Post 6

I was guilty of job abandonment one time, but I had gotten the job at a mass hiring, and I just failed to show up for the mass training day. I was having doubts about whether or not the job was for me, and I felt it was a sign when I came down with severe abdominal pain the night before I was to start.

I had no telephone number of anyone to contact about this, so I just didn't go. The company sent me a paycheck for $14 for the two hours of orientation that I sat through at the mass hiring, but no letter regarding job abandonment was sent.

I think that because being there on that first day was a requirement for holding the job, it was just assumed that I no longer worked for them. I was fine with that!

anon269090
Post 4

Ok, figure this one out. I was approved for and took a two month leave of absence without pay to care for parents in another location. When I was no longer needed (after six weeks), I asked if I could come back early, and they said wonderful. So I came back.

The next day I was suspended without pay until further notice because they claim I abandoned my job when I accepted another temporary position while in the new location so that I could have insurance and money to live on for those two months. How is that abandonment when I never said I was leaving, and came back even before I was supposed to?

GreenWeaver
Post 3

@Sunny27 - I agree. That is how all of the companies that I have worked for have operated. I wanted to add that a job abandonment letter is more common in low paying industries that hire teenagers like the fast food industry.

I remember when I was in high school and worked in a fast food restaurant; every now and then we would have a case of someone failing to show up to work. It was like they gave up on the job, but just failed to tell anyone.

I think that this age group is more prevalent for this type of behavior because they are starting to learn the rules of the corporate world and some may not realize how irresponsible it is not to show up for work because they are not dependent on the paycheck to survive.

Once they need the paycheck as their sole source of support, the percentage of job abandonment probably goes down dramatically.

Sunny27
Post 2

@Crispety - I agree with you especially if the person is looking for a job in the same industry because usually people know each other and word gets around quick. I do want to say that some companies have a strict policy about references and usually only verify dates of employment and job titles so that the company will not have any legal hassles if this person is not hired because of the poor references.

So some people might get away with it, but I do believe in karma and sooner or later their irresponsible behavior will catch up with them.

Crispety
Post 1

I wonder what would cause someone to be involved with an abandonment of a job. I just think that if you are unhappy with a job, you should still give the employer a two week notice so that they can find someone else and train them in time.

It really looks bad when an employee does this and when this person looks for another job, and this new company calls their previous supervisor for references, they may find out how unprofessional they acted and not get this new job. Sometimes people don’t realize that actions have consequences and sometimes the consequences can be very severe.

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