An Employee Terminated for Absenteeism May Be Entitled to Unemployment Compensation

by Lisa Garrett Harry

Think that if an employee is fired for absenteeism, an employer is automatically relieved from unemployment compensation liability? That's not always the case. In fact, the law typically favors claimants.

Under Pennsylvania law, a claimant can't receive unemployment compensation benefits if he or she is fired for “willful misconduct,“ defined as the following:* Wanton and willful disregard of the employer's interest

  • Deliberate violation of the employer's rules
  • Disregard of the standards of behavior that the employer has a right to expect
  • Negligence that manifests culpability, wrongful intent, evil design, or an intentional and substantial disregard for the employer's interest or the employee's duties and obligations

Before an employee who has been terminated for absenteeism can collect unemployment benefits, he must prove good cause for the absences. Absences must be reported according to company policy. What constitutes “good cause?“ Missing work because of:

  • Illness
  • Transportation problems outside the employee's control
  • Childcare problems

What constitutes “proper reporting?“

  • The Employee's Responsibility: Failure to properly report absences — even with good cause — is “willful misconduct,“ leading to denied benefits.
  • The Employer's Responsibility: Proof that a reporting policy exists, the employee was aware of the policy, and the employee did not follow the policy.

Employer Action Steps

  • Establish absenteeism and reporting policies and communicate them to all employees, in the form of a posting or an addition to the employee handbook.
  • Require full compliance of absenteeism policies from all employees.
  • When terminating any employee for absenteeism, document all absences and adhere to established disciplinary procedures.

For more information, please contact

Back to Top

For an AMA Training Consultant or to Register: 1-800-262-9699
American Management Association © Copyright 1997-2018
1601 Broadway New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-586-8100 • Fax: 212-903-8168 • Customer Service: 1-800-262-9699