Attendance   ·  

How to Handle Employee Attendance Concerns

Try these tips to handle the employee discipline process for chronic absenteeism & excessive tardiness.

All of your employees share the same two critical job functions: show up to work and do it on time. It may sound silly but attendance and punctuality can become serious problems for companies that don’t respond appropriately. The most effective solution is to have managers use progressive discipline.

So what exactly is progressive discipline? The basic format is simple: Identify the problem, communicate with the employee, state what you expect to change and describe what happens if the change doesn’t occur.

The keys to using progressive discipline successfully are communication and documentation. Time-off policies differ by organization, so what your company considers excessive absenteeism or tardiness can vary greatly. Fortunately, progressive discipline is effective regardless of your time-off specifics.

Here are specific steps to follow.

  1. Spell It Out Make sure you have an attendance policy. Clearly state it in a company policy handbook and require all employees to read and acknowledge the work attendance policy.
  2. Keep Track Should attendance or lateness become a problem with an employee, record the incidences. Be specific and include dates and times.
  3. Say Something Give the employee an informal warning to let him or her know there’s a problem. Explain to the employee the specific attendance and punctuality issues you’re concerned with. Describe any particular problems and reiterate the company’s attendance policy and expectations.
  4. Say It Again If the attendance problem continues, move on to a verbal warning. Mention your expectations and the next steps the company will take if the employee doesn’t improve.
  5. Put It In Writing If the employee still hasn’t improved, you need to give a written warning for attendance. Include a list with the dates of each absence/lateness, as well as the previous warnings (also with dates) you gave the employee. The warning should also list the consequences for not improving. Normally, the remaining steps are suspension and then termination.
  6. Get on the Same Page After going over the warning, give the employee time to read and understand it. Answer any questions the employee may have about the excessive absences. This is the time for the employee to clarify anything he or she doesn’t understand.
  7. Have Documentation Make sure the employee signs the written warning. Give him or her a copy. Put the warning in the employee’s confidential file.
  8. Follow Up and Be Fair To make your attendance management policy mean something, follow through with the consequences you spelled out, especially termination. Be sure to apply the policy consistently to all employees, to avoid claims of special treatment.Maintaining an attendance and absenteeism policy (especially these steps) and diligently recording specific details of infractions and the resulting discipline will ultimately keep your company healthier and more productive. Employees will have clear expectations, and you’ll have documentation to prevent or defend wrongful termination lawsuits.
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