When an employee is at work, that’s your time, not theirs. So if they have any personal matters to attend to, then they should deal with them on their days off, or during breaks for example, lunchtime. But occasionally, something will happen that simply cannot wait. If it is a genuine emergency, which can easily be resolved they won’t be gone for hours then you may not mind them popping out for a few minutes.

In our member’s case, the lady in question would sometimes ask if she could quickly nip out to pay a ’red’ bill. She had no access to online banking, either at home or work, and was clearly worried about the debt, so they would let her go. But then she started disappearing without permission. When challenged, out came the overdue bill excuse.

Of course, had the employee in question said what she needed to do, in all likelihood, the baker might have agreed to her request. But he couldn’t let her leave the premises without speaking to him first. This was for three important reasons.

Health & safety the most obvious problem is staff welfare and your own legal obligations towards them. If there is a fire or accident, you will need to be able to quickly account for everybody in your premises. If they take off without anyone knowing, it could cause all sorts of confusion.

Alternative reasons while most staff have genuine reasons, there are others who would use this as an opportunity to do something else. They could be on the phone, enquiring about another job, taking drugs or putting a bet on the horses all activities employees have been caught doing while supposedly off dealing with an emergency.

Giving a false impression this behaviour sets a precedent for them and others. If you don’t stop it as soon as it starts, then you will have difficulty bringing disciplinary action over it. This can lead to other staff following suit.