Understanding Employment Terminology: AWOL, Just Cause, and Authorized Cause

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When an individual becomes part of an organization, whether a volunteer group or a full-time professional position, it is important to understand the implications and consequences of their actions, or in some cases, inaction. This may seem a bit harsh and punitive at first glance. It is useful to understand these rights and obligations as these are the very elements which distinguish an employee from an entrepreneur or one employed on an ad hoc basis. It is also an opportunity for an employee to understand the type of commitment being undertaken. The context for these rights and obligations are the implied duties and obligations under the employment contract which are themselves corollaries of explicit rights and obligations under the same. Any understanding of such rights and obligations would be an empowerment for an employee and more substantively, would be a tool for the upholding or restoration of a right or obligation allegedly violated.

AWOL: Absence Without Leave

One key concept in understanding the contractual term of employment is to understand that most employment is regarded as continuous and any interruption in the employment is of importance. Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) refers to an employee’s unauthorized absence from work without notifying their employer or obtaining the necessary approval. This behavior often occurs due to various reasons, including job dissatisfaction, personal or family issues, conflict with management or colleagues, or misunderstanding company policies regarding leave and absenteeism. Sometimes, employees might go AWOL due to health problems, financial stress, or to pursue other job opportunities without formally resigning. Understanding the root causes of AWOL is essential for employers to address underlying issues, improve workplace conditions, and implement policies that encourage open communication and proper leave management.

Just Cause: Definition and Examples

According to the different legal systems, there are many definitions of what is a “just cause” for discipline or discharge. This essay will describe when an employee can be disciplined or discharged with this particular cause, and what kind of conduct or work performance does not generally constitute “just cause”. Just cause is typically labelled as a fair and honest reason, regulated by good faith on the part of the employer in enforcing its rules, and reasonableness in the expectation and enforcement. Not only is setting the standard of just cause a guide for employers to regulate their conduct towards employees, but it also provides a solid definition to determine whether discipline was just or unjust and a definition to govern employee conduct.

Authorized Cause: Termination with Legal Grounds

If an employer can succeed in proving that there was redundancy, the next battle will be to prove that the correct procedure was followed for making the employee redundant. If an employer fails to demonstrate that the employee was properly informed in writing about the redundancy, the termination will be considered illegal in the case of Omar-Farouk v. Bonifacio and later confirmed in St. Michael Academy v. Peregrino when it was stated that the employee should also be informed about the criteria for the selection of the employee to be made redundant. Failure to meet these requirements will render the dismissal unjustified. In Marikina Doctors Hospital v. Generosa, it was stated that in redundancy, the employer is under the obligation to afford some benefits to the employee. If an employer can successfully prove redundancy and terminate an employee, the employee will be entitled to a separation pay.

Redundancy is defined in Art. 283 as the duplication of any functions of the company. It is also considered as “superfluous”. The employer must a) produce evidence of the alleged redundancy, and b) show that the employee was properly informed in writing. What makes this situation complicated for the employer is that the redundancy of functions in the company is an internal process and therefore not known to the public. Due to this, many employees have successfully claimed that the redundancy does not actually exist and the termination was just to remove the employee from the company.

The specific nature and functions of AWOL and the requirements for justified dismissal have experienced certain changes as a result of the Act. It has been seen that the codification of these terms that were previously only known at common law is not to the advantage of the employee, and some employers may take advantage of the changes to avoid personal grievances. With justified dismissal, the situation is similar in that although there are some benefits to an employee, they are often outweighed by the increased power of the employer to dismiss an employee without facing consequences. This can be seen to conflict with the overall aim of the Act to not only increase fairness in employment, but safety and health and the promotion of good employment practices. We can help you find solutions for legal assistance and cases on just cause and authorized cause.