Our Aupair phoned in on a sunday evening (just after she had been paid) stating her husband was ill and she had to go and see him in hospital in Messina (we live in Cape Town). This was 8 days ago. We have tried to contact her on her cell phone with no success. We suspect that she is deliberately ignoring our calls as we are aware of at least one friend that she has contacted telephonically. The circumstances around this make us suspicious that she may have absconded. We are now stuck in a difficult situation that we need to make alternative plans but we have no way of knowing if she will come back. At what stage can we rightfully terminate her employment on the grounds of desertion?
Province: Western Cape
It appears clear that your au-pair has in fact absconded.
In terms of the Labour Relations Act, nothing is however that simple. What you are required to do, so as to ensure you jump through all the necessary hoops, is send her a notice calling for her to attend a disciplinary hearing.
This notice should include the date and time of the hearing and the charge - that being absconding from work and, from what I understand, refusing a direct instruction to return to work. Also the notice must advise her that if she does not attend the hearing will proceed in her absence.
You should fax the notice to her if possible but if not e-mail or SMS her notification if that is the only way you have of contacting her. Also send a notice by registered post if you have her address. Keep proof of all these postings or sendings.
The likelihood appears high that she will not attend the hearing in which case you can proceed in her absence. You will find her guilty of her offence as she will not be there with the outcome being that she be dismissed.
You will then notify, in the same fashion as before, that she has been dismissed with immediate effect.
I hope this is helpful.
Bachelor of Social Science, LLB. Admitted in England and Wales, practiced for 11 years including UK
Thanks Carl - this is helpful.
Good luck. Let me know how it goes.
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