How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace
How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace
9 min read
April 28, 2021
Time Tracking

How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace

Employee absenteeism is a major issue in the workplace. It has been found that absenteeism can have catastrophic effects on how efficiently teams work, how well projects are completed, and how much profit an organization makes. 

This phenomenon is affecting every industry worldwide, and it's believed to be costing employers billions of dollars each year. The most common reasons for absenteeism are illness or injury, family problems, domestic violence issues, and childcare concerns. As an employer, how do you deal with absenteeism?

To combat absenteeism in your workplace, you need to make sure that there are policies in place that will reduce it. One of these policies can be implemented through an absence management software solution like Absenteeism Pro that helps with tracking how much time employees spend away from their desks each day. 

This article talks about what absenteeism is, rules and regulations pertaining to absenteeism, and how to deal with absenteeism in your organization. 

What Is Employee Absenteeism?

Employee absenteeism is the term given when an employee is habitually and frequently absent from work. The absenteeism phenomenon has been linked to various factors, including how attractive the company's employment package is, how satisfied employees are with their current job position or how well they enjoy going into work on any particular day.

Employees who have experienced mental health issues in the past may also find it challenging to focus on tasks at hand, leading them to become more susceptible to absenteeism in the future. In addition, some jobs require an employee to be regularly present within specific time slots, such as nursing positions that need shift workers, for example.

Thus far, we know what absenteeism means but let us now delve deeper by looking at the various laws regarding absenteeism at the workplace.

Laws that Relate to Employee Absences.

There are numerous rules and regulations used to govern absenteeism, with each country having its own set of laws. However, the following are a few laws that are relevant to how absenteeism is addressed in the workplace:

Family Medical Leave Act of 1993(FMLA) 

FMLA is an act that allows qualifying employees up to 12 weeks leave from employment with their employer (without being fired or losing any benefits) if they have family care responsibilities, need time off for their serious health condition, or adopt a newborn child. 

It also obligates employers to provide 24 days per year paid sick leave to all full-time workers. Parents have access to 18 months of parental leave without reducing wages until children reach age three under FMLA law

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)  

This act ensures that employees can take time off to join a union, engage in other concerted activities for collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection. It also provides protections against employer interference with those rights.

International Labor Organization Convention 183

This convention requires employers to provide at least 24 days of paid sick leave per year to full-time employees. It also obligates that parents have access by law to at least 18 months parental leave until children reach age three without any reduction in pay or other economic benefits they would otherwise receive from employment.

Paid Sick Leave Laws 

Absenteeism under this law is defined as the number of days in a fiscal year an employee was absent due to illness, excluding any paid leave.

In addition to these laws, some employers provide additional benefits for workers who must take time off due to family members' illnesses or birthdays. This might include more than 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work and flexible scheduling options.

The Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) 

It's an American law designed to assure safe and healthy working conditions by enforcing standards on how employers manage occupational hazards. This includes absenteeism due to work-related injuries like workplace accidents; and absenteeism because of work-related illnesses like black lung.

Americans With Disabilities Act(ADA)

It's another U.S statute prohibiting discrimination on account of disability in employment, among others which protect from being fired for absenteeism caused by disabilities such as illness, pregnancy, etc.

With these laws, employees don't need to worry about how they will make ends meet when the flu strikes. Employers also benefit because they don't have to deal with productivity and morale problems when employees are out sick.

How to Deal with Employee Absenteeism.

When it comes to how to avoid absenteeism, there are countless strategies to reduce absenteeism. Each of these alternatives has pros and cons that can make them more or less viable for your organization. 

For this reason, it's essential to review these strategies in light of how they will work with the needs of your team. However, here are a couple of great ideas on how you can go about dealing with employee absenteeism at the office/workplace:

Create An Employee Attendance Policy.

As you may be aware, dealing with absenteeism in the workplace may require a significant amount of resources. This is why creating an extensive employee attendance policy is of utmost importance. 

The policy should be clear and concise, outlining how employees are expected to attend work and how management will address absenteeism concerns. It's also crucial for the attendance policy to provide information about how sick days can be used without consequence if they're permitted at all. 

This includes how many consecutive absences are allowed before disciplinary action is taken in whole or part. What "excused" reasons indicate that an absence is not counted against a person's record, whether any exceptions exist based on age or disability status etc.

Furthermore, the absenteeism policy should also include how the employer will address specific absences, such as jury duty or military service. It's essential to implement policies and procedures on absenteeism so that productivity is not compromised and team members can get back into work quickly.

Enforce Your Company’s Attendance Policy Consistently.

Enforcing your attendance policy consistently will guide you on how to deal with employee absenteeism in the workplace. So, how does enforcing your attendance policy help?

It will ensure that absenteeism is not allowed without appropriate notice. 

It will help you address how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace more effectively by addressing irresponsibility on the part of employees.

It's equally important that employers be consistent with enforcing their attendance policy regarding absenteeism, so they know how to deal with employee absenteeism in the workplace and how to ensure there is no inconsistency or discrimination.

A good rule of thumb for implementing an absence management software program is notifying employees about policies as early as possible, such as during orientation. This way, employees are aware from day one of what's expected. 

In addition, this provides a chance for HR teams (or whoever oversees those things) to answer any questions before someone commits the offense, which might lead them to become absent without permission.

Keep Track Of Employee Absences.

Keeping track of employee absences helps you with how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace. Tracking how often an employee is absent helps determine if they are having issues. 

If someone has more than one absence in a two-week period, it's worth investigating to see what might be going on and how you can help them fix the problem.

To get started on how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace, a significant first step would be using an absence tracking system that can be integrated into your existing workflow or used as an independent solution. 

This allows employees to submit their leave requests, and managers have all the information they need at hand, including the current statuses of each employee's schedule and upcoming days off.

Additionally, consider using Clock In Easy software. This time tracking software is designed to be used by employees and managers alike. It's easy for staff members to clock in using their smartphone or web browser, track how long they work each day, how much overtime hours are worked, and generate the necessary reports.

This will make it easier to keep an eye on who might have absenteeism issues because you can see when someone has more than one absence within a two-week period of time. Address unscheduled absences and no-show's immediately.

Any organization that's serious about curbing employee absenteeism will have a policy in place for how to tackle unscheduled absences and no-shows. Any employee who has an absenteeism issue should be notified at the first sign of trouble, so they are aware that there will be some intervention on your end and take steps accordingly.

You can also make sure that employees are on the same page regarding how they use their sick days and what recourse is available to them if an absence turns into a no-show.

It's essential for businesses with absenteeism issues to establish concrete policies about how many absences or no-shows will trigger corrective action, how long someone has before they should be put on disciplinary actions, and how regular attendance will affect pay increases (or promotions).

You don't want your protocol to be too lenient because it sends mixed messages about whether missing work matters or not. But you don't want it to be so strict either where people feel like there's nothing left but termination as a possibility.

Don't Just Treat The Symptoms, Discover The Cause.

You want to address the underlying cause of absenteeism, not just the symptoms. For example, if you have employees who exhibit an increased number of absences in the winter months due to illness, you may need more sick days allotted for that period or provide flu shots at your work site.

In addition, find out how many hours people are clocking and how much vacation they're taking off-site and on-site because there may be a correlation between how often someone takes time off and how long they stick around when they come back.

You'll know what policies can be tailored to those specific needs based on this information. Just waiting until after something happens won't help solve anything - so get proactive.

Your organizational culture also plays a key role in how people perceive the employer; if you want them to feel valued, give them more vacation time or flex days and show that they're appreciated for their hard work.

Providing training opportunities on how best to manage absenteeism will help your employees know how important it is that they don't miss too much time at work because not only does it affect them, but it could affect co-workers and team members as well, which can cause bottlenecks and delays in production.

To ensure success with this initiative, make sure all new hires are fully aware of these policies, so there's no confusion down the line about what is expected from each employee when they start working for the business.

Don't Forget To Reward Good Behavior.

Employee absenteeism can be persistent and will take time to change if there is no proper incentive. To this end, it's imperative that you reward your employees who are able to avoid absenteeism. 

Hence, they know how much of an important part they play in the organization's success as well as how their efforts have been recognized.

An excellent way to reward an employee for their absence is by giving them a gift card or voucher. That way, the employee will feel how much they are valued and how much you appreciate all of their hard work. 

Additionally, it'll be easier to stay motivated when on-site time is rewarded with something more than just appreciation from your boss, who probably appreciates everyone's effort anyway.

Rewards can include things like:

  • A gift card.
  • A voucher.
  • Time off in lieu of being absent from work for vacation days.
  • A small bonus.
  • A coffee or tea from the company's café every time they come into work.

The most important thing is to be mindful when selecting the reward as it should suit the individual and how hard they are working at their job. Some employees may appreciate one type of reward more than another, so this must be considered.


It's vital that organizations address how absenteeism is managed. I’ve taken you through how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace, how absenteeism impacts your team and project progress, how it affects top-line revenue, as well as some policies that will help you manage employee absences. I hope this article has provided you with valuable insights to how absenteeism impacts your business, and how you can manage this.


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