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Workplace Punctuality Policy

by Faizah Imani

Murphy's Law says “If anything can go wrong, it will.” For this reason, when it comes to workplace punctuality, leave nothing to chance. Don't assume that all of your employees understand the importance of being on time or are even concerned about it. By creating an official punctuality policy, there is no ambiguity -- each employee understands exactly what is expected of him.

Defining Tardy

Add a statement in your punctuality policy that explains what constitutes tardy. Technically, if the employee is not clocked in by the time listed on the schedule, he is tardy. However, some employees will clock in and socialize or goof off for a few minutes. To prevent this behavior, consider adding a clause stating that the employee must be clocked in and “ready to work” by the time indicated on the schedule. It is also important to mention that employees can rack up additional tardies by not returning from breaks and lunches on time.

Handling Tardies

The more employees you have, the greater the chances of someone being tardy. Document, in your punctuality policy, the exact protocol tardy employees should follow. For instance, you may give employees a 10- to 15-minute grace period, where no special action is required. If more than 15 minutes late, you may require them to call the attendance line or a supervisor to report the tardy. Giving a grace period prevents supervisors from being bombarded with calls from employees who are only running a few minutes late.

Clocking in Early

A punctuality policy is not limited to tardiness, it should also focus on clocking in early. Many companies use schedule forecasting to create schedules based on the company's production needs. When an employee clocks in too early, he is being paid outside of production needs. This can hurt the company's overall bottom line. To prevent this from happening, consider adding a clause to your punctuality policy prohibiting employees from clocking in more than three to five minutes early. This applies to the start of a shift, as well as breaks and lunches.

Disciplinary Actions

Describe in your punctuality policy exactly how violations are handled. By doing so, employees understand the severity of non-compliance. For instance, you may offer a verbal warning if the employee receives three tardies within 60-day period. Consider offering a written warning if the employee receives another tardy over a specific period of time, followed by coaching, counseling or termination, depending upon the severity of the employee's attendance habits. Get the employee to sign the punctuality policy, indicating that he understands it and agrees to abide by the rules. Place the signed agreement in the employee's personnel file.

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