Skills >> Browse Articles >> Tools and Policies


Attendance Policy

March 07, 2008

The Attendance Policy is designed to document the Company’s philosophy on attendance, employee reporting procedure, employee and supervisory reports, counseling, discipline, and preventive measures.

Subject: Attendance

Organization: Anonymous

Example of: Standard Policy

Our Philosophy

Absenteeism is controllable. All employees are expected to be at work, on time, all the time.

An absence is a failure to report for and remain at work as scheduled; this includes late arrival and leaving early. Absence includes all time lost from the job whether excused or unexcused, avoidable or unavoidable. The only exceptions to this definition are holidays, vacations, death in the immediate family, workers’ compensation cases, approved leaves of absence, and days for which no work is scheduled.

Our program for the control of absenteeism follows:

Employee Calls

When an employee calls in to report being late or absent, a supervisor is to:

• Receive the call personally.

• Speak directly to the employee rather than to a relative or friend.

• When appropriate, encourage the employee to come to work for the remaining portion of the workday.

• Inquire whether the employee has taken steps to improve the condition causing absence. For example, state: “If you think you need to go to a doctor, you can take time off under the sick day policy to do that.”

• Determine when the employee expects to return to work.

• Remind the employee to call in to report his or her status.

If the employee provides information suggesting that the FMLA applies, the supervisor should provide information to the employee concerning eligibility for FMLA leave and how to apply for it. If the employee asks for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability, the supervisor should obtain from the employee an exact request and then contact Human Resources. However, the supervisor may not ask any questions about a disability.

h4. Department Reports

Each month the HR Department issues an absenteeism report to each supervisor. As a general guide, any department incurring over 5 percent absence may be considered to have an absentee problem. However, supervisors incurring less than 5 percent absenteeism are still responsible for reviewing their employees’ individual records.

Employee Reports

Attendance for each employee is approved by the supervisor at the end of the workweek.

The supervisor is to review attendance records on a regular basis noting possible problems. While a month-end review is better than no review, weekly reviews are the standard.

This review should: determine the nature of an employee’s newly recorded absences; make a judgment on the employee’s overall attendance record; and decide on appropriate action.

Specifically, the supervisor should review how frequently the employee is absent. The 5 percent guide applies here too; absences occurring at the rate of 12 days or more per year are unsatisfactory. Consider whether the absence is avoidable or unavoidable. Consider patterns in attendance—is the employee frequently absent on Monday or Friday but never on payday? Review whether the employee fails to phone in his absence, which is a serious breach of the rules.

Absences under the FMLA or ADA are not grounds for taking disciplinary action. However, if the supervisor believes that the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the job, has exhausted available leave, is misstating facts, or violating some other policy, the supervisor is to contact the HR Department.

Pay particular attention to the employee during the orientation period. If the employee is undependable and uncorrectable after counseling, he should be released before his 90 days are up.

In reviewing the records, remember: “There is no reason why all employees cannot be at work, on time, all the time.” The 5 percent or 12 days per year rate is a guide; however, 1 day of absence the employee could have avoided is unsatisfactory and should be treated more severely than a 1-week absence resulting from an accident or other unavoidable cause.

Need for Action

Supervisors are to follow these action guidelines:

• After five absences in a 6-month period, the employee should be counseled concerning attendance standards.

• After eight absences in a 12-month period, the employee should be placed on probation for 90 days.

• Absence exceeding 12 occasions in a 12-month period is grounds for termination of employment.

“Occasion” is defined as an absence of 1 or more days, separated by 1 or more days of work. Time off due to a work-related injury, for FMLA, or for a disability under the ADA is not counted. Rather, the company’s maximum leave policy applies to such time off.


Address absenteeism by private, individual counseling with the employee. This counseling session should:

• Review his or her attendance record with the employee.

• State why the record is unsatisfactory and why it must be corrected.

• Discuss the reasons for absence and for not calling in, if applicable. Here the supervisor should listen closely to the employee’s stated reasons and try to assess their validity.

• Ask if the company may assist the employee with problems causing absence. This may include solving transportation difficulties, a medical assessment by the company doctor, or referral to an employee assistance program or family-service agency. The supervisor should not become deeply involved in personal problems of employees and should only suggest ways to solve absence-causing problems.

• Emphasize to employees that they are expected to:

—Be at work, on time, all the time.

—Notify the company of absences.

—Let their supervisor know in advance of impending absences, whenever possible.

—Come in late rather than not report at all.

—Call in every other day, if absent for an extended period.

—Bring in a doctor’s release to return to work, if absent over 5 days.

The supervisor should emphasize that the employee is jeopardizing his or her future with the Company, merit increases, vacation earnings, and any potential for promotion. The threat of discipline should be avoided at this point, as it may undermine the positive impact of the face-to-face meeting. At this stage the supervisor should try to be helpful. If discipline actually becomes necessary, employees can be told that they are in danger of losing their job.


After counseling and before disciplining make sure the employee is continuing a poor attendance pattern. An employee may be counseled 1 day and miss work 2 days later. This one absence may not be cause for discipline; the employee may have had a good reason for being absent.

However, when unsatisfactory attendance continues after counseling, the next proper action is discipline. Supervisors should review the ‘Discipline’ section of this manual for information on warning procedures. Generally, warnings proceed from a verbal warning to an initial written warning, then to a final written warning and, ultimately, discharge. It is emphasized that supervisors must take every precaution to avoid being inconsistent, overlenient, or too strict in their disciplinary actions. Supervisors may want to have the employee meet with a representative of the Human Resources Department at some stage of the disciplinary process. This may be arranged at the supervisor’s request.

Preventive Measures

In addition to the corrective action specified above, supervisors can take steps to reduce absences before they occur. Some suggestions are:

• Take every opportunity to stress the importance of regular attendance to employees.

• Encourage dependability by praising those employees with good attendance records and those who improve their records.

• Make coming to work a more attractive prospect for employees by reducing the problems and disagreeable features of their jobs as much as possible.

• Keep accurate records and use them to show concern and interest in good attendance.

• Stress that the absence of one employee places an added burden on his or her co-workers.

By following the pattern outlined above, the supervisor should be able to detect poor attendance habits and take corrective action. There is no substitute for working closely with an employee and determining the validity of each absence as it occurs.

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?