Due to RL a friend of mine decided to cut back from raiding for a while. He was only gone for perhaps a month or so. But when he came back and wanted to raid full time, he was sat on the bench. He understood that as a price to pay. He had to earn his raid slot back.
However unless you're really good you don't usually leave a spot open for someone to leave for that length of time and come back to. So his raid slot had been filled.
The next alternative was raid swapping. And this is what both the guild and he felt was fair. After sitting on the bench for a while, always willing to fill in as needed (and it was needed) he hoped to start getting to get in the game and let someone else warm the bench.
Unfortunately, although the raid leader said this was what would happen it never did. The raid leader consistently sat my friend on the bench even though he performed exceptionally well each time he got to raid.
In the end my friend switched guilds and is much happier as a result. Looking back we can only imagine the raid leader had an axe to grind but wasn't willing to share his reasons. What's worse than a over the top aggressive raid leader? A wishy-washy passive one.
I happened to follow me friend to this new guild and since I've been there someone left and they said "your slot will be waiting for you when you return". It is indeed a warm sentiment to share when someone leaves raiding unwillingly (due to RL, money, etc.) and I'm sure a nice one to receive.
Our raid roster at the moment is just right for most content (we can do some of it undermanned), but with us on the slim side for the harder content (where every person counts).
If the player comes back now, he'd be very welcome on our harder instances, but there is a chance someone would have to sit out on the other ones to fit him in.
And I have to ask is this fair to the person that filled in for him while he was MIA?
How do you tell the paladin you're recruiting "Hey we really need you right now, but there will come a time when Joe the Player comes back and you'll be relegated to the bench"?
So I can see it from my friend's side as well as a little from my former guild's side. I wouldn't tell a player their slot is safe. It isn't fair to the other 24 players who want to raid, especially if they can't at least give you an estimate on when they think they'll return. I wouldn't tell a player they aren't able to earn a position back on the roster either, especially if they have been a consistent raider in the past. If I felt there was no place for them, I hope I'd have the guts to tell them so, especially if I care an iota about them.
What are You Playing this Weekend?
10 hours ago