Abscond meaning in job

Absconding meaning in job

The term "abscond" in the context of employment generally refers to leaving the job suddenly and without giving proper notice or permission to the reporting manager/HR/colleagues/employer. 

When an employee absconds, they often do not communicate their departure to their employer and may not intend to return to the job. This can create various problems for the employer, such as unexpected gaps in staffing, abandoned projects, and incomplete responsibilities. 

Absconding is usually considered unprofessional and could result in disciplinary actions and long-term repercussions for the employee in terms of future employability and professional reputation.

What can an employer do about an employee absconding?

If an employee absconds, the employer has several options for addressing the situation. The appropriate steps may vary depending on the jurisdiction, the terms of employment, and company policy. Here are some general steps that an employer might consider:

Initial investigation

Attempt to contact the employee

The employer should make attempts to reach the employee via phone, email, or other means to ascertain the reason for the unexplained absence and to allow for the possibility that it may be due to an emergency or misunderstanding.

Consult with HR and legal advisors

Before taking any drastic actions, it's advisable to consult with human resources and possibly legal advisors to ensure that the employer's subsequent steps are in compliance with labor laws and contractual obligations.

Document attempts

Keep a record of all attempts to contact the employee, as well as any impact their absence has had on the workplace.

Formal steps

Issue a formal warning

Depending on the organization’s policies and local laws, a formal written warning may be sent to the employee, often giving them a specific timeframe within which to return to work or face further action.

Involve authorities

In some cases, particularly if the absconding involves theft, fraud, or other illegal activities, the employer may need to report the matter to the police.

Termination and legal action

Termination of employment

If the employee fails to respond within the time frame specified, the employer may have grounds to terminate the employment contract. This usually involves a formal letter of termination.

Legal recourse

Depending on the jurisdiction and the specifics of the employment contract, the employer may have the option of taking legal action against the absconding employee for breach of contract, loss of revenue, or other damages.

Final settlement

In some jurisdictions, employers are required to settle any outstanding payments (like unpaid wages or benefits) even if the employee has absconded.


Reallocate duties

Once it's clear the employee is not returning, it’s important to reallocate their responsibilities among existing staff or hire a replacement.

Review policies

Use the experience to review and possibly update company policies relating to absconding, to better manage similar situations in the future.

Document the case

Keep all documentation related to the case, including steps taken to address the situation, in case of any future legal complications or disputes.

How to pay salary when an employee absconds in India?

Upon contacting the absconded employee, there are commonly two possible outcomes based 

on which you can process salary. Let’s take a look at them:

If the employee responds

Return to Work: If the employee returns to work and the absence is justified, salary payments can typically continue as normal, possibly after deductions for the period of unauthorized absence, depending on company policy.

Resignation: If the employee communicates an intention to resign, follow the normal final settlement process which includes calculating unpaid salary, pending leave encashment, and any other dues or recoveries.

If the employee does not respond

Termination: After the period stipulated in the show-cause notice expires, you may proceed with termination.

Final Settlement: Calculate the salary owed up to the last working day, along with any pending leave encashment or other benefits. Deduct any recoveries or dues as appropriate.

Payment Method: Payment is often made by cheque or electronic transfer, sent to the employee's last known bank account. This should be documented meticulously for legal purposes.

Legal Documentation: Issue a formal termination letter and final settlement statement, keeping copies for your records.

What happens when an employee absconds during notice period?

Absconding during the notice period could be considered a breach of the employment contract. Depending on the terms of the contract, the employee may forfeit benefits or be liable for damages. 

In India, some companies also have clauses requiring employees to pay the company for not serving the notice period.

The company will likely seek to recover any assets like laptops, ID cards, or other equipment the employee may have. Failure to return company property may also lead to legal implications.

If the employee doesn’t return or respond, the employer would usually proceed with the final settlement, deducting any dues or penalties as per the employment contract.

Do you need to take legal action against an employee who has absconded?

Generally employers don’t take legal action against employees for just absconding. They do when the employee stole something or has company property that he has to return. 

If the offer letter or employee agreement states particularly about taking legal action, the employer will. If the agreement states the employee has to pay a penalty if absconded and doesn’t, then legal action can be taken. Hence, it is important to draft a clear absconding policy.

Absconding letter 

An "absconding letter" is a formal written communication sent by an employer to an employee who is absent from work without any intimation, approval, or justification for an extended period. 

The letter serves as an official notice asking the employee to explain their unauthorized absence. The letter usually outlines the period of absence, asks the employee to report back to work by a certain date, and may indicate the potential consequences, such as termination, if the employee fails to comply.

Absconding letter format and example

Here's a sample format for an absconding letter. Please note that this is just an example and you should consult with your legal and HR teams for advice tailored to your specific situation and jurisdiction.

[Company's Letterhead]

[Company’s Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

[Phone Number]

[Email Address]

Date: [Insert Date]


[Employee’s Name]

[Employee’s Designation]

[Employee’s Department]

[Employee’s Last Known Address]

Subject: Show-Cause Notice for Unauthorized Absence

Dear [Employee’s Name],

We have noticed that you have been absent from work without any intimation or approval from [First Day of Absence] to [Last Day of Absence]. Despite several attempts to contact you through phone calls, emails, and text messages, we have received no communication from your side explaining your prolonged and unauthorized absence.

As per the terms and conditions mentioned in your employment contract (clause [mention relevant clause number]), unauthorized absence for such an extended period is considered a serious violation of company policy. Therefore, you are hereby required to show cause as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against you for this violation.

You are required to submit a written explanation for your unauthorized absence within [Number of Days, typically 7-15 days] days from the date of this letter. Failure to do so will compel us to assume that you have no explanation to offer, and action deemed appropriate, including potential termination, will be initiated as per the relevant clauses in your employment contract and company policy.

Please treat this as extremely urgent.


[Your Name]

[Your Designation]

[Company's Name]

[Contact Information]


Previous correspondence related to absence (if any)

Relevant employment contract clauses or company policy excerpts (optional)

Frequently asked questions

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