​Job abandoned: what happens to unclaimed monies?

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​Job abandoned: what happens to unclaimed monies?

If an employee has abandoned his job and can't be contacted, can an employee keep any termination monies owed?

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If an employee has abandoned his job and can't be contacted, can you keep any termination monies owed?

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Q We have an employee who has been absent from work for more than two weeks and has not made any contact with his immediate manager. We have attempted to make contact with the employee, both by phone and certified mail, to determine a reason for his unexplained absence.

The applicable modern award contains an ‘abandonment of employment’ clause that we feel we have complied with. We have determined the employee has abandoned his employment. However, the employee has some outstanding wages and pro rata annual leave owing to them on termination of their employment. Are we required to forward this money to the employee or can the company retain these monies?

A Technically, the wages and annual leave due to an employee are not amounts that can be kept by an employer if an employee cannot be located.

If the wages remained unclaimed, s559 of the Fair Work Act 2009 permits an employer to pay amounts (eg wages) to the Commonwealth where those amounts were owed to a former employee who cannot be contacted. The Commonwealth holds these amounts in trust for the former employee. The money is recoverable by the former employee and, if unclaimed monies are paid by the employer to the Commonwealth, the employee can obtain their unpaid monies from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
 

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