Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I ❤️ my wife, and I ❤️ attendance policies

On August 29, 2003, I married my wife.

The ceremony was to start at 11 am, and by 10:55 I was nervous. Not your normal, "I'm about to get married" nervous, but the, "What the hell, we start in 5 minutes and my bride-to-be isn't here yet" nervous. With no cell phone on me, I just had to have faith that Colleen was on her way. Nevertheless, I was most definitely jittery.

The priest must have been able to read the nerves on my face. Or maybe it was my longing stares toward the back of the church. Or a combination of the two. Either way, he walked over, placed his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Don't worry, I'm sure she's on her way."

He was right.

A minute later, the back doors of church opened, and my almost in-laws walked in with my almost bride. They had arrived, and the rest is 15 years of wedding bliss.

Technically, Colleen was not tardy, and I was never under any risk of being left at the altar (even though pre-wedding jitters may have suggested otherwise). Regardless, even if she arrived at 11:01, or 11:05, we would have still wed, and had a good laugh about it later, as we still do to this day.

A bride, however, is not your employee. Here are 8 questions to answer in drafting your workplace attendance policy:

    1. Why is regular attendance important? "Regular attendance is of vital importance to the successful performance of your job. Each absence unfairly burdens your co-workers and supervisors. Additionally, attendance on the job each day is essential to superior customer service and the efficient operation of the Company." 

    2. How are "absent" and "late" defined? "An absence or lateness that will be counted against an employee's attendance occurs when an employee takes an unscheduled day off, or arrives late or leaves work early without permission. The fact that an employee may be eligible for paid time off to cover the absence or lateness does not excuse the absence or lateness. Time off that is scheduled and approved in advance will not count as an absence or lateness. Time off that is protected by federal, state and/or local laws will not count as an absence or lateness."

    3. What is your statement on "no call/no show"? "Employees who fail to call in and fail to report for work as scheduled for ___ consecutive days will be deemed to have abandoned their position and we will terminate their employment."

    4. How are employees supposed to report expected absences or tardies? "All employees are required to call their immediate supervisor no later than __ minutes prior to start of their scheduled if they are unable to report for work at their regularly scheduled time. If the employee's supervisor is unavailable, the employee must speak to another member of management. Emails, text messages, voicemails, and forms of communication other than direct communication via a phone call do not meet these requirements."

    5. How is attendance tracked and reviewed? "The Company keeps accurate attendance and tardiness records which are reviewed regularly to determine the frequency of absence and tardiness."

    6. What are the consequences for unacceptable attendance? "While we recognize that our employees get sick from time to time, habitual absenteeism and/or tardiness will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. The definition of excessive absenteeism depends on the particular circumstances of each case. Any employee whose absenteeism and/or tardiness for any reason becomes unacceptable will be so notified and warned. Thereafter, disciplinary action may be taken which could result in termination from the Company"

    7. What are your exceptions for leave laws? "The Company will excuse absences protected by federal, state, and local leave laws, and we will consider excusing certain absences as a form of 'reasonable accommodation' for disabled employees. In case of an illness which lasts for three days or more, you may be required to furnish a statement from a medical professional."

    8. Should you have a "no-fault" policy? Under no-fault attendance policies, employees accumulate points for absences and tardies, regardless of the reason, and are disciplined/terminated when reaching a predetermined number of points. There is nothing inherently illegal about these policies, but beware the ADA and the FMLA. Employees are not permitted to accumulate points for ADA- or FMLA-protected absences. The argument for this type of attendance program is ease of administration. If, however, you need to make exceptions for most medical absences, I question if administration is actually more difficult. And, if that's the case, why have these no-fault policies at all? 

    Attendance policies are an important workforce-management tool. They should not, however, be rolled out without careful consideration of the goals you are hoping to accomplish and the laws within which you must operate.