The Value of a Strict Attendance Policy to Combat Employee Absenteeism
When you manage people, there are going to be circumstances that come up which are going to justify being absent from work, being late or leaving work before the designated time. Personal issues come up all the time and that is acceptable. Unfortunately, there are some employees who may abuse this type of privilege and continually provide excuses that just don’t seem honest. When it becomes obvious that the employee is not being honest, what actions can a business owner take?
Can you ask for documentation?
One of the options available to employers is to have a strict attendance policy set down in writing, in which there are a certain number of days that a person can use due to illness or personal issues. There are some legal rights that need to be factored in like the FMLA, Family and Medical Leave Act and the ADA, Americans with Disabilities act.
These could limit the information that an employee needs to give. Employers can’t supersede these rights of the individual. However, employers do have the right to enforce a written attendance policy and often, inquire about the reason for the time off or ask for supporting documentation, a note from a doctor, etc.
Things to do When Implementing Attendance Policy
Creating a policy means that there has to be a structure behind it that is firm, fair and consistent. That also means it must be specific and the penalties for violation must be clearly stated for all to read in advance. The number of days an employee is allowed in a year and the specific procedures that need to be followed in order to get an “approved” day off. No business is legally required to create an attendance policy but establishing expectations in the workplace can be valuable in creating positive moral and the expectations that will be in place.
Calling by a certain time, or giving a reason for the absence are all a part of your written policy. It should be stated that an employer can ask for documentation from a medical professional if the repeated absence is due to illness. Clear communication about the status of the illness, if it runs over several days should be reported. This should be common courtesy, but having it in writing will allow for protection in any legal action.
A well-written attendance policy that is consistently enforced will provide a business owner with protection in any case that an employee needs to be punished or even terminated. Documenting absences and keeping a detailed record of employee behavior will defend a business from wild, false claims being made by employees. Use the written attendance policy as a barometer for expectations and a level of protection against any claims of discrimination.
Provide Clear Definitions in Policy
The attendance policy can use several options to evaluate an employee’s behavior in regards to the attendance policy. There can be a general statement that defines four or more violations in a six-month period will result in disciplinary measures. Or there can be a more definitive point system in place, where violations carry a point value and reaching a certain level will trigger discipline. All violations need to be clearly defined so that all are aware that they are not following the rules.
It is vital to the well-being and morale of all employees to be clearly informed about what is acceptable behavior and what actions are not allowed. They also need to be clearly informed about the disciplinary consequences that will occur when an inappropriate or unexcused absence occurs.
Of course, there are going to be some absences that are going to be protected by the law. FMLA absences, a court ordered subpoena, military service, and jury duty is good reasons to be specifically mentioned in the attendance policy.
Call Out Protocol
Another clear procedure that should be defined is the procedure for calling and informing the employer of an absence. It should clearly be stated the numbers to be called, what time it should be called. The consequence of a Failure to follow the established protocol also needs to be defined. Employees can be required to follow established procedures and receive discipline should they fail to do so.
Recap of Information
All business owners should create a written attendance policy that lets employees know how excessive absences and tardiness will be handled and lead to disciplinary action that might include termination. There should be a detailed number of days allowed and whether they are unpaid or paid. A detailed procedure for calling in should be established and explained clearly, and the punishment for not following the procedures, no call, no show, etc. All absences should be documented along with the reasons if that is legal. The employer should become familiar with all legal protections from FMLA and CFRA so no violations of these rights occur.
Article provided by NECHES FCU, with convenient locations in Beaumont, Lumberton and Bridge City.
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