It is in the usual course of business that employees regularly go on leave. Sometimes such leave could be for a specific purpose or resulting from an incident such as maternity leave, disability leave, medical leave or any other of the many types of protected leave that is required to be offered by an employer under law.
Now, what happens if an employer is obliged to let go of an employee while on leave? Firstly, is that possible? Is it allowed under law? And, how does one go about it? Well, simply follow the due process of law. Adhere to all procedures under applicable laws and guidelines. If there are any local customs in your area, it would be useful to follow them as well. It could win the employer some brownie points with the existing employees.
While, in general, employment and labor related laws are welfare legislation and are drafted with interests of the employees in mind, they cannot, at the same time, appear to be unfair to an employer. Actually, these laws are made to ensure that an employer gives the employee his rightful due when being terminated for a cause.
So, exactly what needs to be done by an employer to terminate an employee who is on leave? Read on -
- Check to see if the employee is covered under any of the employment and labor legislation that is in force in your area. If yes, check to see what these laws say about termination of employment.
- If the employee is not covered under any specific law, then, the contractual arrangement or contents of the employment agreement/letter between the employer and employee will govern the process of employment and termination of it. So, check the employment agreement and read through the clause on termination of employment - with cause and with no cause.
- Now, if the employee is on leave for a reason emanating from work, such as a work related injury caused accidentally and not due to a negligent act of the employee - then the employer will be bound under additional worker's compensation and employee insurance regulations to protect the employment until the employee is fit enough to be reinstated at work. Thereafter, the employer may evaluate the physical condition of the employee and decide to let the employee go, after clearing dues and payment of employee benefits under law.
- If the employee is on leave for any other medical or maternity reasons arising from causes outside the work-place, the employer is bound to provide leave and medical benefits for the stipulated period under applicable law.
- If the employee who is on leave has been conducting in a manner not befitting his position at work or has been an errant or a truant employee, then most of these laws may not apply and the employer is free to apply provisions of employment termination conditions mentioned in appointment and employment letters.
The employment and labor legislation are vast and sometimes complicated. But, the procedures are well-laid out. When in doubt, consult an attorney who is an expert in these matters.