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Ask the HR Expert — Terminating an Employee on Workers’ Compensation

Jill Schaefer /
Text: "Ask the HR Expert"

Q: An employee had a work comp claim and we sent her to a health clinic, however, she never checked in there. She claimed to go to an ER instead but never submitted proof of this. Awhile later, she stopped showing up for work. We’ve tried to contact her multiple times. Is she terminating her employment?

A:  This could be job abandonment, but because there’s a workers’ compensation claim in progress, ensure that you take the following steps:

  1. Try to contact the employee by every means possible.
  2. Send a certified letter to the employee’s home address, documenting all the times that you tried to contact the employee, how you did so (i.e., call, text, etc.), and what the result was (i.e., voicemail, etc.).

In this certified letter, state that if there is no communication back to you by a specified date that you will consider this job abandonment and it will result in termination.

Bottom Line: Do you know if the employee is OK? Has something more severe happened to her? Ensure you’ve tried multiple ways to get a hold of her. Issue a certified letter to document all the dates you tried to reach her and the results.

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