Employee Attendance | 5 mins read

Employee Attendance- Problems, Policies, and Solutions

employee attendance problems policies and solutions
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Every workplace needs to have a clearly defined attendance policy. If not, the employer risks missing out on invaluable employee working hours due to poor attendance, which could potentially lead to overspending on actual labor costs.

No matter how big or small a business might be, it is vital to have an employee attendance policy which should include everything from paid time off to sick leave to family medical leave and so on.

But while every business needs to have an attendance policy, not every business is going to require the same types of policies. Here are the common issues and concerns that may arise when establishing an employee attendance policy, what to expect when enforcing attendance management, as well as how to abide by the local labor and employment standards.

Types of Attendance Problems

While there are a number of reasons an employee may use to try and justify an absence, there are typically only 2 different types of reasoning that would attribute to employee absences and/or poor attendance.

1. Absences and Tardiness with Notification
No matter what type of policy is put in place, employees must notify ahead of time whether they are going to be late or absent. The acceptable time-frame for that notification is up to the employer's discretion and should be clearly stipulated in the attendance policy.

Encourage employees with incentives for good attendance. This can apply to those who show up consistently on time and to those who adhere to the employee attendance policy.


Employee management can also be more accurately monitored when it comes to time and attendance when utilizing a time clock. Because time clocks log when employees begin and end shifts, there will be a logged record of employee time tracking - pinpointing who is and is not punctual.

2. No Call/No Show
When an employee doesn't notify their employer about their absence, it's considered as a no call/no show absence. This is the single worst type of employee absence and typically incurs the most severe type of consequence.

In fact, many employers consider a single no call/no show as an extreme offense with dire consequences including termination or progressive discipline.

When it comes to employee absences, nip it in the bud. Lay out what is considered an acceptable and excusable no shows in an employee handbook. Doing so will prevent human resources from getting involved and will prevent unexcused absences from occurring.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Types of Attendance Policies

types of attendance policies 1603444244 8583

Points or Reward System Policy
Having points or a reward system is a very common type of employer attendance policy. With this type of policy, employees are given a certain amount of points, which can be deducted when the employee is absent, late, or leaves work early.

On the other hand, employees are sometimes given the ability to earn additional points by showing up for work regularly and on-time.

Rolling Attendance Policy
Similar to the points/reward system, a rolling attendance policy allows for the automatic clearing or points after a given period of time. This might be anywhere from 6 months to a full year for any employee who continues to show up for work on time.

At the same time, a rolling attendance policy may be used to offer incentives after a given period of time for those who are not habitually absent or late. This could be in the form of paid leave or in the form of a gift card or financial bonus.

Zero-tolerance - No-fault Attendance Policy
Some employers may decide to establish a zero-tolerance or no-fault policy, in which there is no difference between any type of absence whatsoever.

So regardless of whether the employee is ill, has experienced a death in the family, or they simply decided to take the time off to go on a vacation, their absence is considered as an absence and will be addressed and dealt with accordingly.

Probationary Period Policy
In most employee positions, the first 30 to 90 days are considered probationary. During this progressive discipline period, any form of absence is not favorable and may have will be dealt with using strict consequences, including the possibility of termination.

Tips on How to Enforce Policy

While it's easy to understand the importance of creating a policy, as well as actually creating the policy itself, enforcing that policy is a whole different story.

Therefore, it's important to keep the following tips in mind when trying to enforce a workplace attendance policy.

1. Create a Written Framework
In order to be able to properly enforce any type of attendance policy, employers need to have a clear, written attendance policy. This might be in the form of a written stand-alone document, or it might be part of their employee handbook.

Regardless, the importance is that the framework clearly outlines the policy, including employee working hours, absence notification, and reporting procedures, as well as the consequences for any type of missed time.

2. Be Consistent
To avoid any complaints from employees about being treated unfairly, it's important that an attendance policy is enforced consistently at all times. So, all employees and their violations of the attendance policy must be treated similarly.

In other words, an employer should never reprimand one employee for violating their attendance policy when others have done the same without facing the consequences outlined in the policy.

3. Use Written Documentation/Notices
Although it's acceptable to give an initial verbal warning to employees, after the first incident, a formal, written notice is needed to help address the problem.

Not only does this help capture any details surrounding the violation of the policy, but it also helps to inform the employee about the consequences of their actions.

And, at the same time, written documentation can be a life-saver in the event of any type of legal dispute between an employee and their employer.

4. Be Specific and Factual
In any type of disciplinary documentation, it's crucial that the employer remains specific and factual about any attendance issues. In other words, an employer should never exaggerate when recounting occurrences by using use words like always absent or never on time.

Instead, any type of policy documents should use exactitudes, such as explaining the specific dates and times of any violation, as well as any other type of relevant details about the violation.

tips on how to enforce policy 1603444244 4421

5. Learn About Local Laws and Regulations
It's important to never rely solely on a company's attendance policy, according to corporate solely, when dealing with employee absence. In fact, as an employer, it's crucial to learn about any local laws that may cover employee absence.

In some cases, employees may be entitled to time off or paid leave beyond what's set out in the company policy.

Regulations like the Family Medical Leave Act (also referred to as the medical leave act FMLA) and employment law are all areas that cannot be overlooked.

6. Take Disciplinary Action
Disciplinary actions may involve a broad range of progressive disciplinary actions, such as a verbal warning, written warning, suspension from work, or possibly even termination.

Regardless, the most important thing is that employer actions are consistent and adhere to the attendance policy at all times.

7. Avoid Emotional Interference
When dealing with employee attendance issues, it's vital to keep emotions out of the picture. In other words, employers should never make hasty or impulsive decisions when enforcing their attendance policies.

As an employer, it's vital to always make sure to consider all factors surrounding an incident before confronting employees and making any decisions.

8. Back Your Action with Physical Documentation
Again, when confronting an employee, it's important to keep the conversation serious, but not adversarial or confrontational. And if reviewing an employee's attendance record, it's not a bad idea to back everything up by presenting them with reports or charts that show their absences.

In many cases, the employee might be surprised to see how their patterns have added up to the serious problem that they're being presented with. Never underestimate the power of physical documentation.

9. Make Sure There's a Witness if an Employee Refutes Their Attendance Issue
In some cases, employees might try to refute the allegation that their poor absence behavior has become a problem.

In this case, it's important to provide them with any written documents and ask them to sign them as an acknowledgment that the issue is being addressed.

In the event that they refuse, ask another manager to be present, make a note of their refusal, and have the witness sign the documents as well.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

 cta content inline and exit intent