Attendance Policies

Employers have every right to expect employees to be on the job, on time, every day. But it needs to be spelled out to employees.

There should be an attendance policy in every company's employee handbook that emphasizes the importance of good attendance and explains what can happen to those who are absent, frequently late, or do not follow company procedures for notifying supervision of their absence.

Employees terminated for poor attendance have won claims for unemployment benefits when they are able to show that the policy was unclear and not enforced consistently.

So consider the following:

1. Does your attendance policy explain how absences are to be reported and the penalties for excessive absenteeism? Your policy should distinguish between excused and unexcused absences.
2. Do you follow state and federal law concerning absences for jury duty? It is a violation of federal and state law to discipline employees who are absent for jury duty.
3. Does your absence policy take into account the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? It is a violation of FMLA to charge a covered employee with unexcused absences while on a qualifying leave.
4. Does your absence policy follow the Uniformed Services Employment And Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to accommodate reservists' requests for time off?
5. Does your policy consider religious accommodation requirements before charging employees with unexcused absences?
6. Does your policy consider the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act concerning absences for drug, alcohol or medical treatments?
7. Does your policy explain that unexcused absenteeism has a negative effect on employees' performance appraisals, promotions and continued employment?

Employee handbooks are meant to set the rules straight — once and for all. But they don't always. In fact, many wrongful discharge cases are based on published policies in the handbook that are ignored when a discharge decision is made.

SESCO Management Consultants is available to assist with your human resource issues, including the development of employee handbooks that are compliant with state and federal employment laws. You may contact us by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com.