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Workplace Absentee Policies

by Faizah Imani

As an employer, it is wise to have a policy in place that specifies exactly what your attendance expectations are for employees. The purpose of an absentee policy is not to “lord it” over your staff; it's simply a means to protect your company, as much as possible, from lost productivity. The exact clauses to incorporate in an attendance policy varies by employer, however many employers choose to focus on a few specific points.

Advanced Notification

Implement a policy that requires an employee to provide advance notification of his absence or tardiness. Specify exactly what constitutes advanced notice. For instance, require the employee to notify you of his absence 30 minutes to one hour before his shift is scheduled to start. If you fail to indicate what constitutes advanced notice, the employee might call five minutes before his shift is scheduled to begin. By implementing an advanced notice policy, you have time to find another employee to work in his stead. This protects your company from a loss of productivity.

Who to Call

Your workplace absentee policy should include a point of contact. This is the person an employee should call when he expects to be absent. The point of contact may be the employee's immediate supervisor, the scheduling department, scheduling hotline or operations support center. Include a telephone number in the policy otherwise the employee can say he didn't know who to call. Specify what information the employee is required to give when calling out. For instance, he may provide his name, employee identification number, supervisor's name and scheduled shift.

No-Call, No-Show

Create a clause in your absentee policy specifying how a no-call, no-show is handled. A no-call, no-show is when an employee fails to notify you that he will not be showing up for his scheduled shift. You may consider him a no-call, no-show if you don't hear from him within 15 minutes after his shift starts. For some companies a no-call, no-show results in immediate disciplinary action, including termination. When an employee understands the severity of a no-call, no-show, he is less likely to violate the policy.

Sick & Bereavement Days

If your company offers paid or unpaid sick days to an employee, create ways to prevent the employee from abusing these days. One way to do this is to require employees to bring in a doctor's note when missing three or more consecutive days from work. Without this policy in place, you run the risk of employees casually using sick days when they are not really sick. Include a bereavement clause that specifies when an employee can take time off for bereavement. It's common practice to allow a few bereavement days when there is a death in the employee's immediate family, including a parent, spouse or children. Indicate how many days are allowed for bereavement and what documentation is needed when the employee returns. Examples of documentation include an obituary or newspaper clipping.

Disciplinary Actions

Specify the disciplinary actions an employee can expect if he violates the attendance policy. For instance, he may receive a verbal warning for his first and second offenses. The third offense may result in a written warning. The next offense may result in termination. Require the employee to sign the absentee policy indicating he has read and agrees to abide by the policy. Keep a copy of the signed policy in the employee's file in case he ever claims he was not informed of company policy.

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