How do I respond to an employees email regarding being laid off when they were not laid off?

I have an employee who is stating that she now wants her job back. She was on maternity leave and we held her job for her. We followed the required guidelines even though we were not required to because she had not worked for us for a year and had not reached the required hours. When this employee was approved to come back she had issues with getting state certified daycare (not sure how that works but know that it has nothing to do with us), so we held her job a little bit longer. After that time we did not hear back from her for another 2 months. At that time she said that she was having medical issues and could not return then to work; we did not get a return date from her. This was 2 months ago. Then yesterday, the manager of my location received an email from her stating that she was ready to come back to work. Today, I received an email saying that she has been trying to get a hold of me to see when she can return, however I don’t have any phone messages or email. Long story short, we don’t feel that her employment is a good fit. We did not lay her off, we just figured that due to the lack of communication and not giving us a return date she was not coming back. Will she be able to collect unemployment? I need help with the response to the email regarding her being lied off; I don’t want to word it incorrectly. She also has a broken down car that she needs to get off of our property. We are a small family business struggling to stay afloat. We are an

Asked on June 22, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Respond simply but accurately: that you held her job for her up to X date, even though you did not have to--that is, you voluntarily held her job as a courtesy; but that when she did not return by X date or even provide a date by which she would return, she was terminated for absenteeism. Legally, you could call that a "termination for cause"--absenteeism or abandoning a job is a wrongful act in the employment context--and deny her unemployment, but since if you do, she may appeal any denial and/or try to sue you, embroiling you in an investigatin or litigation, you may choose to have it as simple (not for cause) termination and not contest her if she applies for unemployment. In any event, you have no obligation to hold her job for her.
As to the car: tell her that she has some  brief but reasonable time to retrieve it (e.g. 30 days? 60?) and that if she does not, you will consider it abandoned and have it towed from your property. 
Send your communication multiple ways you can prove delivery: e.g. as an email or email attachment and also by certified mail or fed ex with tracking.


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