Missing staff checklist/guidance


Staff are expected to notify their manager on the first day of any absence from work due to illness or injury or other non pre-authorised leave.  Employees must contact their manager or nominated administrator by telephone within two hours of the normal time of starting work, or as soon as practicable thereafter. 

When staff do not notify the university of their absence, their absence is deemed an unauthorised absence and as an employer we will try to contact  the absent member of staff as soon as possible, including using any emergency contact  if necessary to ensure the safety of the employee.

The University will offer support for absent employees and help them to return to work as appropriate, however, If the employee cannot provide a good reason for the absence and lack of contact, we may consider disciplinary action.

The following procedure is to be followed when a member of staff goes missing /does not report for work as expected, and  is based on guidance from the Missing People Charity.

The missing people Charity report that ‘Over 100,000 adults are reported missing each year; 75% of adults are found in 24 hours, 85% within two days, but 5% of adults will be missing longer than a week. If you feel that an employee who goes missing may be at risk, it counts as an emergency; do not hesitate to call the emergency services’. 

Employee Records

Up to date employee records are essential for responding quickly and effectively when an employee does not turn up to work as expected. It is also important for Employees and line managers to ensure that work calendars are up to date with flexible working hours; leave; external meetings; appointments; training; working from home, etc. This keeps employees safe and ensures managers and the People Directorate always know where employees are expected to be.

Below is a checklist of actions to consider when an employee has not reported to work as expected.  The actions taken will of course depend on each individual circumstances and any known concerns that the line manager has regarding the safety of the employee.

First Day

Reviewed / Action / Comment

LM: Check calendar/diary/leave, as well as online for any travel issues

LM: Try to contact missing employee up to 3 times with some time elapsed in between each contact, unless there are immediate concerns for their wellbeing

LM: Notify link-People Manager or others in People Directorate.  

PM: Check for any health issues, disability or other circumstances that need to be considered. 

PM:  Liaise with emergency contact/next of kin for information on employee’s whereabouts if employee has not responded to contacts. 

Suggest to the emergency contact/next of kin that they may wish to contact the charity Missing People’s Helpline for advice and support: call or text 116 000, www.missingpeople.org.uk if appropriate.

Form a Decision Group if necessary (normally LM: PM and a senior member of the People Directorate (PD) and H&S/OH.

Decision Group to consider the viability of making a home visit (if living locally).  This should only ever be undertaken by a minimum of two colleagues, and never alone, and will depend on the circumstances.

Discuss with emergency contact/next of kin whether they will report the employee as missing to the police and when.

If emergency contact/next of kin will not report the person missing, Decision Group to decide whether they should report them as missing and when. 

Liaise with police as necessary (this may not be relevant on the first day, depending on circumstances)

Contact the police on 101 to  request a welfare check.  Will need to provide as much information as possible about the employee.

Inform missing person’s colleagues of situation as necessary (this may not be relevant on the first day, depending on circumstances)

If an employee remains missing after 1 day

Reviewed / Action / Comment

The Decision Group will need to consider cover of the employee’s role, and whether any other HR policies need to be followed

Support for the employee’s team, both in workload and emotional support, will need to be offered. The Decision Group will consider this on a case-by-case basis considering the operational requirements of the organisation as well as missing employee

If an employee comes back to work after an established missing incident

Reviewed / Action / Comment

LM: Meet with the employee to check they are fit to be back at work and ensure they are updated on the steps that were taken while they were missing. Agree what messaging to share with colleagues about the incident.

If appropriate, refer the employee to the EAP and or OH and recommend the returned person seek advice and support from Missing People’s Helpline www.missingpeople.org.uk or call/text 116 000.

LM/OH and employee to  draw up a back to work plan (considering support needed by the employee) if required.

LM: Inform colleagues of the situation if necessary (in agreement with messages discussed and agreed with the found employee and in a sensitive manner).

LM: Look at the amount of time away from work and calculate sick, compassionate, unpaid, and annual leave.

LM: Set up a review period to ensure they are supported and adjusting to being back at work

If an employee has come to harm or died while missing

Reviewed / Action / Comment

Decision Group to liaise with emergency contact/next of kin on their wishes of how the organisation should respond to this and what information should be shared with colleagues.

PD staff refer to death in service guidelines in the unfortunate event of an employee's death.