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Attendance Point System Policy

Question:

We have an attendance point system policy for our nonexempt employees that gives points for each occurrence of absence.  It feels like people have learned to “play” the system, either by missing multiple days in a row (which count as one occurrence) or always missing Mondays or Fridays.  Do you have a suggestion on how to modify our policy so employees can’t take advantage of the system?

Answer:

Sounds like your attendance point system policy is in need of a few updates.  Below are some suggestions that could be implemented to keep your attendance point system policy from being abused.

Evaluate Your PolicyWe all want regular attendance from all employees because it has a direct impact on the productivity and success of a business.  Sometimes what we create initially doesn’t always play out when implemented.  Start by re-evaluating your policy and asking:

  1. What is the purpose of the policy, and
  2. What is the end result that it should accomplish? 
  3. How specific is your policy?
  4. Does it cover the most common infractions (i.e. tardiness, early leave, excused absences, unexcused absences, no call/no show)?

In some cases a vague policy can give you flexibility, but it also can leave you in a lurch if someone takes advantage of it.  Making a specific policy will help you manage expectations in the long-run.  But, don’t get so specific you don’t have any wiggle room for the unexpected exception or even reprimand.

Require a Doctor’s Note: If an employee misses multiple days, require them to bring in a doctor’s excuse if they want the days to count as only one occurrence.  If they do not provide a doctor’s slip (for themselves or a family member), the absence counts as an occurrence for each day missed.  One caveat for these types of circumstances…don’t forget about FMLA (if applicable).

Add Specific Disciplinary Language: Review the verbiage of your policy and add or modify the verbiage to include some leniency for disciplinary action for attendance issues outside of the point system.  Language such as: When an employee exhibits a pattern of absences (consistently missing a specific day of the week or the day before or after holidays or scheduled vacations) the performance is unacceptable.  The Company can, at its sole discretion, address these absences outside of the point policy as performance discipline.  Adding language similar to this may be able to help those individuals taking advantage of the program.

The Bottom Line: An attendance policy should be strict enough to allow the employer to discipline those employees whose absences cause problems, yet flexible enough that the employer does not have to terminate good employees who are absent infrequently.

 

Having easy to read and understand policies and procedures can help alleviate a lot of problems in the workplace. Not only do they set the stage for what is deemed inappropriate, they can also provide guidelines for what is considered acceptable, and even expected, behavior. Strategic HR, inc. receives numerous requests to review and rewrite employee handbooks on a regular basis, especially with the number of recent federal guideline changes. If you haven’t updated your handbook in the last few years, now may be a good time. For more information on how we can help you with your employee handbook, please visit our Employee Relations page.