Unauthorised absence (or overstaying leave) is an act of indiscipline on the part of an employee. Whenever there is an unauthorised absence by an employee, two courses are open to the employer. The first is to condone the unauthorised absence by accepting the explanation and sanctioning leave for the period of the unauthorised absence in which event the misconduct would stand condoned. The second is to treat the unauthorised absence as misconduct, and hold an enquiry whereby punishments ranging from a major penalty like dismissal or removal from service to a minor penalty like withholding of increments or dies-on may be imposed. The extent of penalty will depend upon the nature of service, the position by the employee, the period of absence and the cause / explanation for the absence.
Recently, the Kerala High Court in Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd. v. Induchoodan, held that if an application for leave was submitted and it received no reply within a reasonable time, then, there is nothing wrong in employee assuming that the Management had no objection in granting the leave; and availing the same. Management cannot subsequently chargesheet the employee for any misconduct, let alone for ‘unauthorised absence’.