Emerging Trends and the Manager’s Role in Absence Management

Your role in handling absence as protests

Do you believe in the universal adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

This saying that is often associated with romance, love, closeness and other things related to the heart.

As a matter of fact, I subscribe to the saying because, quite often I miss the things that I highly value and treasure.

However, for people in management positions, the term “absence” does not contain any romantic or lovely connotation.

In the work environment, the absence of employees is considered as an extremely counterproductive vice.

Some of the effects associated with absence from work include loss of man hours, dwindling employee relations and decreased productivity.

Consequently, absence management becomes a critical aspect of understanding for managers to foster a harmonious working relationship.

For people in management positions, the term “absence” does not contain any romantic or lovely connotation

Most case studies have shown that, employees resort to protests due to a variety of reasons.

Some of the common ones include wage caps, erratic schedule changes, employment of part-timers and decrease in man-hours among others.

For example, in the U.S. most organizations often resort to hourly wage cuts as a measure to reduce the payroll.

Consequently, this can lead to protests because most workers suffer from the wage cuts.

Examples of absence as protests

In October 2013, employees of Wal-Mart workers boycotted work and staged several protests to demand $15 wage increment and more stable working hours.

The workers organized protests through the streets of Washington, Phoenix and New York while chanting “Our Wal-Mart.”

The aim of the protest was to advocate the change of unfair labor practices.

For instance, the workers were demanding for the introduction of a living wage.

Most of the workers were earning less than $10 an hour, hence not being able to afford basic commodities such as toothpaste, soap and paying for water bills.

Therefore, a protest was paramount to ensure that they get better wages for their hard work to sustain their families.

Walmart Workers Demand $15 Wage in Several Protests
Walmart workers demand $15 wage in several protests

Employees can also resort to protest as an expression of the poor relationship with the management.

Quite often, the discontentment results from harassment, mistreatment, and negative relations between the employees and their supervisors.

Barcelona football club presents a wonderful example where the players have resorted to boycotting the team’s events and trainings as a show of protest.

The current coach of Barcelona, Luis Enrique has come under a lot of criticisms from the players regarding his management and relationship with the team.

Consequently, the team’s performance has declined considerably.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Although, a manager should be allowed to manage, the current coach is facing so many discontentments from the club’s players led to Lionel Messi.

For example, Messi led other players in a protest to boycott training sessions and engage in other charity work meant for the club.

What is more, the lack of teamwork, protests, and absence from training was reflected in the most recent game played less than two weeks ago, where they lost 1-0 at home to Malaga.

This was highly expected due to the current managerial problems facing the club as the players do not have trust in the coach.

Just two weeks ago, an employee of the City of Boston was fired for participating in the recent I-93 protests in Milton.

Further, the youthful employee was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, conspiracy and obstructing emergency vehicles.

Since the employee had been employed on contract terms, he was terminated immediately, citing what the courts termed as “putting public safety at risk.”

Therefore, as a public employee, there is a need to observe public safety and protect the citizens.

City employee fired after taking part in I-93 protest
City employee fired after taking part in I-93 protest

In 2011, employees of MacDonald and other food restaurants such as Burger King and Wendy’s staged a major protest demanding for a boost in their hourly pay from $7.25, which is the current federal minimum of $15.

In other cities such as Chicago and Seattle, restaurant workers engaged in protests by disrupting lunch hour traffic advocating better wages.

These examples indicate that workers can use absence to advocate fair labor practices.

Fundamental aspects of labor contracts and protests

While engaging in protests, employees should be cautious and aware of their absence policy requirements.

For instance, employees who participate in anti-government protests during work hours may lose their jobs or be sued by their employers.

In most labor contracts, employees are prohibited from participating in protests when they are supposed to be on the clock.

Besides, the situation always gets complicated if an employee is arrested while participating in protests during work schedule hours.

The most fundamental aspect of absence management and protests is all entangled in the labor contract terms between an employee and the employer.

In most countries, employees who participate in anti-government or company protests, end up being arrested and locked up in custody.

During such times, both the employer and the employee are liable to solve the disputes since it affects the labor relations.

Although, the employer has the liberty to dismiss the employee for being absent during working hours, they cannot annual their contract while in custody.

Depending on the contract, some employees may be legible for allowances or gratuity before they are dismissed.

However, a collective bargaining can also be reached between the labor union and the employer for the protesting workers to be reinstated, but with certain conditions.

The manager’s role in handling protests

Managing unscheduled absences as a form of protest has become a growing concern for many managers.

The problem has been perpetuated by the flexibility of labor laws that allow employees to participate in protests without notifying the employer.

Most importantly, many companies delegate the role of managing absenteeism to first-line supervisors who may lack labor management skills, thus worsening the process of compromise.

Protest has become a growing concern for many managers

The best way for managers to solve absence as a way of protest is to devise an absence management plan and a return to work formula.

Since the protesting workers have been aggrieved or objected to a particular issue, a manager can hold return to work meetings with the representative to strike an agreement.

For example, the current Barcelona coach should hold a managerial meeting and involve the players in solving the current stalemate and discontentment in the team.

This will ensure that the team remains united and focused to win more trophies, and curb any impending anticipated turnovers.

Although, increasing hourly wages may not be easy, managers should acknowledge the inherent problem underlying the protest and take remedial actions.

Most importantly, absence management can yield positive fruits if all the parties are involved in a consultative process.

Managers should not resort to threats and intimidation because employees have the right to engage in lawful protests.


Written By

Aniket Saksena

I'm a business/academic/creative/HR writer, interested in pursuing and researching as many fields as possible in an effort to become a cross-domain business expert and opinion leader.