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Drafting an Employee Attendance Policy

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/29/2013

Craft an employee attendance policy that is short and to the point. Learn which key points to include and how to protect against potential wrongful termination claims.

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    Managing a Tight Ship

    “Time Clock The short answer is "everyone." Any employer, no matter how few workers may be employed by the company, needs to have a clearly defined attendance policy that spells out employer expectations, disciplinary actions and proper notifications. It is up to the human resources department to draft, disseminate and monitor enforcement of an employee attendance policy.

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    What should be Included?

    • Definition of the term "attendance."
    • Explanation of how HR monitors and records attendance.
    • Definition of the term "absence."
    • Determination of how many absences may occur before disciplinary action commences.
    • Outline of proper notification procedures for an employee who will be absent.
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    Sample Employee Attendance Policy

    Attendance

    Employees report to their work stations in adherence with their written schedules. Workers should arrive sufficiently early to begin working right at their scheduled times. Employees leave their work stations as specified by their assigned shifts. Breaks and meal times must also be taken in keeping with the previously set up work schedules.

    Measuring Employee Compliance

    Company considers a worker to be present and available to work after s/he is clocked in. The time clock functions as the only tool the organization uses to measure proper adherence to the previously agreed on shift. An employee who clocks in late is considered tardy.

    Absences

    Company recognizes excused and unexcused absences. Excused absences are outlined in the employee handbook under ‘Jury Duty,’ ‘Leave of Absence,’ ‘Sick Time,’ ‘Bereavement,’ and ‘Time off.’ These are scheduled absences. Unexcused absences are occurrences when the employee is not at her/his workstation at the appointed time and did not previously schedule an absence. Ten tardies – clocking in after the scheduled beginning of a shift – equal one unexcused absence.

    Disciplinary Actions

    Excused absences are not subject to disciplinary actions. Unexcused absences incur disciplinary actions. Company’s human resources department issues a verbal warning at the first occurrence. Thereafter the worker receives a written warning until s/he misses a cumulative annual total of XZ hours, when the employee is subject to termination.

    Preventing Disciplinary Actions

    Employees should contact their supervisors by phone or company email as soon as they anticipate being absent from their work stations. Being absent from work for two consecutive days without notice to the supervisor is considered job abandonment and Company will initiate work separation procedures. Your personnel record will reflect a voluntary resignation from your position.

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    Why the Sample Policy Makes Sense

    It is a common mistake to only define coming to work as falling under the umbrella of good attendance. As outlined by the Texas Workforce Commission(1), having a worker remain at their assigned work station for the duration of the shift is every bit as crucial as having the employee get there on time. In addition, keeping an eye on the bottom line and not having small increments of accidental overtime eat up valuable funds is another aspect of an effective employee attendance policy.

    The Society for Human Resources Management(2) is adamant in its suggestion to set up a verbal, written and cumulative hour total that leads to termination. Spelling out the policy ahead of time eliminates the danger of favoritism allegations and wrongful termination suits.

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    It may seem odd to put in place an employee attendance policy for the first time. After all, the company is dealing with highly qualified adults and not school children who need admonishment to not be tardy. Yet no matter how qualified and highly educated the workforce of a company may be, a written attendance policy sets the groundwork for future disciplinary actions and protection against allegations of favoritism or unfair labor practices.

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    Sources

    1. http://texasui.org/news/efte/attendance_policy.html
    2. http://www.shrm.org/TemplatesTools/Samples/Policies/Pages/CMS_006834.aspx

    Photo Credit: “Time Clock" by Ludek/Wikimedia Commons at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pichacky.jpg

Employee Disciplinary Actions

What does it take to effectively discipline a workforce? Is it possible to be lawsuit-proof while concurrently weeding out ineffective workers? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – if you know the steps to take.
  1. Best Practices Regarding Employee Discipline
  2. Tips for Tracking Personnel Development
  3. Drafting an Employee Attendance Policy
  4. Guide to Drafting a Business Dress Code Policy
  5. Employee Letter of Reprimand: Free Example to Download