5 Convincing Reasons Why Going AWOL Is Bad for Your Career

5 Convincing Reasons Why Going AWOL Is Bad for Your Career
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 13 April, 2022

At one point, you've probably heard someone recount the story of an employee "going AWOL". More so, you've probably noticed the note of disapproval in the narrator's voice. After all, going AWOL is a workplace misconduct that affects your present and future career.

What does AWOL stand for?

AWOL is an acronym for absence without leave. Basically, this happens when an employee fails to show up for work without company permission. This is an example of irresponsible behavior that falls under Article 297, section b of the Philippine Labor Code. The section states that "Gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties" can be a basis for termination. Here are instances that fall under acts of neglect:

  • Being late to work frequently

When an employee is often tardy, this may decrease company productivity and operational efficiency. For example, a video editor who's always late impacts a project's timeline, preventing the team from meeting deadlines. Also, this may cause the company to lose clients and sponsors. Termination is possible if the company has met with the employee many times to resolve the timekeeping issue. However, if the employee still has not changed their behavior, the employer has the right to dismiss them.

  • Being absent frequently

In the same way, an employee's frequent absence can harm a business. For instance, a teacher who often doesn't show up for class without prior permission forces the administration to find a substitute on the spot. Consequently, the students' time is also wasted on waiting instead of learning. With proper documentation, including the school's clear policy on absenteeism and issued employee warnings, the administration has the right to let the teacher go.

AWOL vs. Abandonment

To be clear, AWOL and Abandonment are different acts. As mentioned, absence without leave (AWOL) is when an employee fails to report to work without following company procedure. Still, this can also lead to abandonment.

In a nutshell, abandonment involves the following:

  • Not reporting to work without a valid reason
  • An evident intention to no longer report to work, as in transferring to a different company

Both AWOL and Abandonment are grounds for an employee's legal dismissal. However, for companies to do this, the employee must undergo due process. This involves these steps:

  • Receiving a notice or warning
  • A chance for the employee to explain their side
  • Getting a Notice for Termination

Why should I avoid going AWOL?

Even if you feel like transferring jobs ASAP, you need to follow proper procedure. Article 285 of the Labor Code states that you have to give at least 30 days' notice before leaving your post. This way, your employer has enough time to find someone to replace you.

Apart from being a legal requirement, this notice ensures your smooth exit. Besides, going AWOL gives you these disadvantages:

1. No glowing reviews from your former boss

If you breached contract and failed to tender resignation, you can no longer expect your boss to put in a good word for you in your future job. Even if you don't put down your employer's name as a character reference in your resume, how can you explain your messy exit in your next job interview? Hirers typically ask why and how you left your previous company. And, even if you decide to leave out your last job on your resume, employers can easily check your employment history through your SSS/GSIS, TIN, Philhealth and PAG-IBIG records. Once hirers spot the discrepancies, they will see you as someone untrustworthy. As a result, they may decide not to hire you.

2. Leaving a bad impression on colleagues

Being frequently late and absent doesn't only earn the ire of your boss, it also puts you in a bad light among your co-workers and clients. When you don't report as expected, other people's work is put on hold. Worse, someone has to fill in for you"”which is beyond that person's responsibility. As they say, what goes around comes around. Your particular industry may be a small world, which means it's possible to encounter former colleagues in your next workplace. The past can easily catch up with you, so always remember to have a solid work ethic.

3. No financial benefits

An official resignation lets you enjoy benefits outlined by your company policies. These may include unused leaves that are convertible to cash and other back pays. If you've been terminated officially, as in the case of retrenchments, you are entitled to pay equivalent to at least one month's salary for every year you were employed. If you quit your job without proper notice, you automatically deprive yourself of monetary benefits, which can keep you afloat while job-hunting.

4. Getting sued for damages

Remember that going AWOL is against the law. This means that aside from withholding your back pay, employers can sue you. Depending on your company's claims, you may be penalized through fines, or worse, imprisonment. Additionally, getting involved in legal battles also means spending time, energy, and money. Ask yourself if you want to face such consequences from your actions.

5. Ruining your reputation

You can grow your career when you have considerable professional experience. However, employers consider not only the years you've worked, but also the quality of your work. A misstep in your past job can impact your future success. Even if you have great potential, your failure to follow legal and company guidelines makes you look unreliable and unprincipled. So, it pays to never burn bridges with bosses and colleagues. If you make your career path as smooth as possible, you can achieve professional goals easier and faster.

When can I resign right away?

Nevertheless, the law also protects employees like you when you need to resign without the 30 days' notice. According to Article 285 of the Labor Code, an employee may terminate their employment right away due to the following just causes:

  • Serious insult by the employer or their representative on the honor and person of the employee
  • Inhuman and unbearable treatment accorded to the employee by the employer or their representative
  • Commission of a crime or offense by the employer or their representative against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of their family
  • Other causes analogous to the above

How can I resign properly?

Aside from giving your boss your resignation letter at least thirty days before leaving the company, here are more tips on quitting the proper way:

  • Craft a professional resignation letter.

You don't need to itemize the reasons why you're leaving in your resignation letter. Refrain from writing anything negative, as this can still affect your career. Just state your resignation's effective date, and thank your boss and the company for everything you've learned. Here is a resignation letter template that you can use.

  • Make the transition smooth.

Volunteer to train your replacement to ensure a smooth transition. Complete all your pending tasks before you leave. Also, return company property such as documents, equipment and other assets in your possession.

  • Be composed during the exit interview.

Maintain respect and grace during the exit interview. Focus on the positive things you've gained from the company. Don't speak ill of other people. This will only put you in a bad light.

Even if office problems become too challenging, remember that it's better to resign properly than to go AWOL. Making a clean break lets you pursue future opportunities with a clear conscience and an impeccable track record.

Now that you're free to take on your next job, update your profile, and take a look at the opportunities that await you on JobStreet. To browse through #JobsThatMatter on the go, download the JobStreet app on Google Play or the App Store

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