How to Write a Fair Employee Attendance Policy -
employee attendance policies
12 min read
December 16, 2020

How to Write a Fair Employee Attendance Policy

Looking for a way to curb employee tardiness and absences? Having an employee attendance policy in place can help curb this issue. While we all run a few minutes late, sleep through the alarm sometimes, and get stuck in traffic, some things add up, and it’s important to take measures to prevent tardiness from being an everyday thing.

Remember that when it comes to running a successful business, you must come up with policies to ensure attendance and punctuality in the workplace. When it is all said and done, you need order in the workplace, and this means having a workplace that runs on some rules. 

Good attendance and punctuality in the workplace are crucial, and writing a fair employee attendance policy allows you to set forth your company’s policies and procedures to guide and help you handle employee tardiness and absence. 

Once drawn, the policy will promote operational efficiency in the company while also minimizing unscheduled absences.

According to a report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the cost of productivity losses from absenteeism stands at $225.8 billion annually, and this is a cost that has to be shouldered by the employer. 

An employee attendance policy that staff is held accountable to would go a long way in ensuring good attendance.

In this article, we’ll look at how to write a fair employee attendance policy and how to use a points system for attendance. The points system for attendance rewards employees for perfect or almost perfect attendance.

What is an Employee Attendance Policy?

When it comes to keeping order in the workplace and ensuring that employees are at work when needed, you need to put in place and implement strict workplace policies. And though companies will have different workplace policies, issues like absenteeism, tardiness, and other issues around lateness are better handled using an employee attendance policy. 

So, what is this document all about and how do you write one?

An employee attendance policy refers to a company’s documented management and operational rules that are designed to boost employees’ productivity while also setting clear and consistent expectations from all your employees.

If you are a small business without a formal HR department, learning how to write a fair employee attendance policy and coming up with late work policies will go a long way in creating what will make your business seem more formal while encouraging attendance and punctuality in the workplace.

Keep in mind that as much as everyone in the business is supposed to know what’s expected of them in terms of their work responsibilities, an attendance policy helps to streamline the business operations, especially as your business grows. And as you grow and take on more employees, having a fair employee policy will protect you and your employees while keeping things running smoothly.

Why is an employee attendance policy important?

The primary reason for writing a fair employee attendance policy that all employees are privy to is to create a formal system where everyone knows what’s expected of them once they show up for work, from day one. 

The policy also means that everyone needs to show up to work as required and put in the appropriate work. Late work policies also feature drawn up rules and guidelines with consequences of what would happen if an employee fails to show up (without an actual reason) or if they outright break the rules. 

Therefore, you could think of the employee attendance policy as the document containing the set of ground rules for your organization, with rules that must be understood by all employees.

Below is a breakdown of the benefits/importance of the employee attendance policy.

  • Business Reporting to Track Company Progress

The information collected from your attendance management system is essential to your company as it helps you track the progress of the business to determine whether you are on track to achieving your goals for the quarter/year, or if you need to tweak some of the strategies you’ve already put in place. 

The information collected will also allow you to predict your future performance, and be able to tell you whether the business is headed for future success or not. Since employees are your company’s primary assets, tracking employees' attendance and time allows you to evaluate business progress easily.

  • You learn more about specific employees.

An employee attendance policy allows for easy monitoring of employees, and you can easily determine which of your employees get in early, on time, and the ones who are consistently late. You will also be able to identify the employee with the most absences which allows you to refine your staff members. You get to pick out the employees who are the most suitable match for you. For example, the employees who are able to arrive at work early each day, specifically the ones who come prepared to fulfill their duties, show you that all the tasks you assign to them can be fulfilled.

  • Increased productivity and profitability

By monitoring employee attendance, you get to root out potential issues in attendance very easily, and work is done on time. Just knowing that they need to show up and complete assigned tasks on time will show you an increase in the level of employee productivity and your company’s profitability.

What to include in an employee attendance policy?

A formal (written) attendance policy to which all employees are privy is crucial for the success of your company, which is why you need to know how to write a fair employee attendance policy.

Besides creating a seamless work environment where all tasks are completed on time, the late policy (employee attendance policy) will help in making sure that employees' personal time is tracked and easily accessible. It also makes it easy for scheduling in case of unscheduled events like illness, death, or illness of immediate family, as well as doctor appointments.

If this is your first time curating an employee attendance policy and you are not sure about how to write up an employee for being late, the next few steps will guide you in creating a fair and effective employee attendance policy.

Creating an employee attendance policy

  • Take the Current Work Culture into Account (think of the human aspect)

The first thing you need to do is to take into account the current culture in the workplace. Chances are, the decision to create an employee attendance policy has been sparked by existing attendance issues. Your employees might have gotten lax over time, showing up late for work often, forgetting to call in until a few minutes to the start of their shift, or even a general lack of care because of the absence of an attendance policy.

These are the common reasons for getting started with an employee attendance policy, but you need to remember that the new changes introduced through the policy will not take effect immediately. Changed behavior takes time, but that policy could be the foundational shift needed by your company for the much-needed culture shift.

With this in mind, take into account assumptions, symbols, norms, values, beliefs, as well as habits you’d like to implement. You also need to talk to your managers and consider their expectations and current approach towards employee attendance. 

If, for example, one manager is okay with a slow/late start, while the others expect things to be done fast, there are mixed messages sent, and you’ll have to discuss and come up with structures to streamline things. For your employee attendance policy to work, you need to have a baseline from which everything else runs on.

But that is not all; you also need to carefully consider your employees. If they have young children and families, for example, you have to know that there will be absences and some level of tardiness from family emergencies, etc. 

So, though a zero-tolerance policy seems like an option, it wouldn’t be ideal for these employees, and the policy will quickly put them out of a job. Part-time employees will also come in with their challenges, and you need to consider all these before coming up with the policy.

  • Keep it simple

If you want your employee attendance policy to work, you have to keep it simple and clear. The policy could easily run into a long binder document, and you don’t want that to happen. 

To keep it simple, here are the important sections that you need to include in the policy (albeit in a few sentences).

  1. Absence

Absence is the failure of an employee to report to work when they are scheduled to. Absence can be excused (if the employee gives their supervisor sufficient advance notice of at least 48 hours, if the advance notice is pre-approved, and if they have sufficient paid time off (PTO) accrued) or unexcused. 

Unexcused absence happens when the conditions for the excused absence aren’t met. However, if the absence is unavoidable, say because of an illness or emergencies, the employee has to notify their supervisor no later than the standard scheduled start time, meaning if the employee is unable to make the call, they must have someone else make the call.

For the employees with at least 3 consecutive days of excused absences, for example, because of injury or illness, they have to give the company proof from the physician, along with fitness for duty release before they return to work.

  1. Tardiness and Early Departures

The policy must cover this, explaining that employees are expected to report to work on time and also to get back to the office on time, and they should notify the supervisor in case of late arrival.

It should also be noted that the policy and the tardiness or early departure notifications do not excuse the lateness.

In most cases, employee attendance policies allow for a maximum of 12 occurrences of tardiness in a year, and exceeding this number is grounds for termination.

  1. Disciplinary Action

This section of the policy covers what happens in case of excessive absenteeism (at least 2 occurrences of unexcused absenteeism within a 30-day period or 8 occurrences in a period of 12 months. In the case of the latter, the employee would be subject to termination.

Disciplinary action is also taken in case of 56 hours of accumulated absences – this is regarded as overuse of emergency personal time.

To issue/effectuate disciplinary action, the employee will receive a written notice/warning for any 8 hours missed (for tardiness/early departure) and issuance of an employment termination notice if an employee uses up more than 72 hours.

The employee disciplinary point system offers a great strategy for you to ensure the effectiveness of your employee attendance policy while making your policies on lateness a little more tolerable to your employees. At the same time, you could implement the attendance point system, which allows you to reward employees for good attendance and low absenteeism rates. A simple attendance point system policy sample is shared below.

The point system for attendance works great for most companies, especially because most employees dislike having to do a write up for being late. If you are not sure about disciplining employees, try the employee disciplinary point system.

  1. Job Abandonment

If an employee fails to report to work in three days or more, with no notice out to the supervisor, the employee is considered to have abandoned the job and subsequently terminated their employment relationship voluntarily.

How to give your employees flexibility with the attendance policy

Although a no-nonsense employee attendance policy sounds like the best way for you to make sure projects are completed on time, it is controlling, ineffective, and not sustainable. In this day and age, your employees who are made of Millennials and Gen Z tend to prioritize work flexibility from day 1. If you are going to attract top talent into your organization from Gen Z, you have to come to terms with flexible attendance.

Some of the ways of giving your employees flexibility in the workplace include;

  • Having compressed workweeks – the most common structure for compressed workweeks includes a 4-day workweek with 10-hour workdays. But there are different variations to this, including the one with the 12-hour workdays.
  • Flexible daily schedules – flexible hours allow employees to come in and leave at different times. For example, some employees could get to work early and leave early or even come in a little later and stay late. Others could take extra time during lunch. For this to work, you’ll have to cultivate trust.
  • That being said, here’s how you implement the flexible working hours schedule:
    • Ensure that all employees are playing by the same rules.
    • Encourage employees to engage in other activities or interests outside work. 
    • Have a system to keep track of the hours. Tools like the ones offered by ClockInEasy will ensure the best management of flexible working hours.
    • Incorporate an employee points system – the employee points system is designed to reward employees for not being absent or tardy, and in other cases, for taking up less personal time off work.

Attendance point system policy sample

The attendance point system or the attendance bonus system policy looks different for all companies, but it is an effective employee disciplinary point system that encourages good attendance while helping you navigate the terms of the employee attendance policies easily.

Here is how the employee points system works: Employee attendance point system policy sample

Employees who do not use up their emergency personal time and have no tardiness in their calendar week will have their names entered in the monthly attendance drawing. Drawings are held in each month’s staff meeting, and for every week where an employee has the perfect attendance, the employee gets to enter a drawing. 4 employees are selected from the drawing each month, and they will receive $50.00.

Every employee who’s not used up any emergency personal time and with no tardiness will receive a gift valued at about $25 as appreciation for their commitment and attendance.

The other component of the employee bonus system policy is where all the employees that accomplish the following are eligible for a specific stated amount in annual bonuses after the end of the calendar year.

Here is an attendance point system policy sample that you could use.

For the bonus, the employee point system calls for the following from the employees:

  • Only misses a maximum of 16 hours, with a maximum of one tardy will receive 100% of the bonus or an equivalent of $300.
  • An employee who misses a maximum of 24 hours and with only two tardies will each receive 50% of the bonus ($150).
  • Employees who miss more than 24hours and/or have more than 2 tardiness will not receive the attendance bonus.
  • The last component of the employee point system policy notes that the employee who doesn’t use their emergency personal time would be paid for those unused hours at 110% the rate of their standard straight-time pay after the end of the calendar year.

Conclusion – Why you need employment attendance policies

Collaborations between employees and their bosses are important in ensuring the success of the company. However, for good performance and profitability, you need to set up rules, especially around time management, tardiness, and absenteeism, which is where the attendance point system and the employee attendance point system policy sample shared above comes in. 

In its small way, the employee point system for attendance encourages good attendance; you won’t have to ask for a write up for being late. At the end of the day, the system you settle on should enhance attendance and punctuality in the workplace.


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