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Creating An Effective Attendance Policy

Every manager and supervisor is familiar (sometimes much too familiar) with the last-minute call-out call. The one in which they learn that one of their employees, for whatever reason, isn’t going to be able to make it in that day. If your operation frequently finds itself shorthanded, it may be time to take another look at your attendance polices and the time and attendance systems tools you use to schedule and manage your workforce.

Compliance concerns

The first thing employers should do when creating or reviewing policies is to check and see what labor and employment laws and regulations may apply. In the case of attendance policies, there are a few federal laws that do have provisions that might be relevant, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Many states have additional laws regarding employee leave and absences that may also need to be taken into consideration when reviewing or creating an attendance policy. Employers should consult with their legal counsel or HR advisors to determine which laws are applicable to their workplaces.


In order to effectively manage absences, employers must have a way to accurately track attendance and maintain records. A line from The HR Specialist‘s blog on the topic says it best: Casual or informal timekeeping practices are a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Organizations with time and attendance systems in place are categorically better able to manage compliance than those who still rely on manual processes. In fact, the 2009 Payroll Performance Study administered by the APA and The Hackett Group revealed that the use of modern time and attendance systems was linked to an 86 percent reduction in grievance/litigation incidents.


As with any HR policy or procedure, enforcement is everything. Attendance expectations should be clearly communicated within the policy, and the policy should be uniformly enforced.  Policies should also neither be overly broad nor overly specific, instead allowing the employer enough discretion to make sound decisions regarding their workforce and comply with applicable laws.

Below is a sample no-fault policy that employers can customize and use to create their own attendance policy.

Sample Attendance Policy

Absenteeism and tardiness place a burden on both co-workers and [company name]. We expect that every employee will be regular and punctual in attendance. This means being in the office, ready to work, at the starting time each day. When you are unable to work due to illness or an accident, please promptly notify your supervisor. In the event your immediate supervisor is unavailable, you must speak with a manager. Leaving a message with another staff member or on voicemail does not constitute an accepted notification of absence. If you do not report for work and your manager/supervisor is not notified of your status, it will be assumed after two consecutive days of absence that you have voluntarily resigned, and you will be removed from the payroll.

If you become ill at work or must leave the office for some other reason before the end of the workday, be sure to inform your supervisor of the situation.

You will be compensated for authorized absences according to the provisions described in this handbook. Authorized absences beyond the time allowed under that policy are authorized without compensation.

Standard working hours are from [insert hour] to [insert hour], Monday through Friday. A [insert amount of time] lunch period is taken at any hour, which is mutually agreeable between the employee and supervisor.

If you will be absent from work during standard working hours for any reason, you must contact your supervisor as soon as possible to avoid disciplinary action.
[Source: Zywave, Inc.]

Time and attendance systems help employers more efficiently manage their workforces and cut operational costs. As a leading provider of HR outsourcing, G&A Partners gives business access to state-of-the-art HR technology at prices they can afford.  Call 1-866-634-6713 or visit to speak with one of our HR technology experts and learn more.

This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

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