n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - Gone with the wind and not giving a damn : problems and solutions in connection with dismissal based on desertion

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-0099
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2185



Desertion takes place where an employee leaves the workplace and intends to terminate the employment relationship (A van Niekerk, MA Christianson, M McGregor, N Smit & BPS Van Eck (2008) at 239; Khulani [2009] 7 BLLR 664 (LC) in pars 15-6). Various terms are used when an employee stays away from the workplace without notice and/or a reason : eg, absenteeism, abscondment, absence without leave (AWOL) and desertion. These terms do not necessarily have identical meanings. Absenteeism and absence without leave normally refer to cases where an employee stays away for short periods of time but with the clear intention to return to work. Desertion and abscondment refer to cases where an employee stays away from work for a longer period, but with the clear intention not to continue with employment, this intention being evident from the employee's conduct or communications (J Grogan ed (2007) at 119). It remains puzzling why an employee would rather desert than resign. One possible explanation is that he retains his entitlement to unemployment insurance benefits when he deserts (and is dismissed), but not when he resigns (ss 16(1)(a)(i)-(ii) of the Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001).

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