Absenteeism Policy

What Is an Absenteeism Policy?

An absenteeism policy is a set of procedures and guidelines that aim to reduce the number of workdays employees miss. Many absenteeism policies specify suitable reasons an employee may miss work, such as illness, injury, or scheduled personal time off. Yours may also outline disciplinary actions employees may face for excessive tardiness or absenteeism. Absenteeism policies are beneficial because when employees miss too many days of work, it contributes to a loss of productivity and cuts into a company’s bottom line.

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What Does an Absenteeism Policy Include?

Generally, any workplace policy you enact should be tailored to your organization. However, including a few standard sections will help you create a comprehensive document explaining what employees need to know such as:

Policy Purpose

First, help your employees understand why an attendance policy is necessary. By clearly explaining consistent attendance is critical for the team’s and company’s success, you can get buy-in from employees and encourage them to show up each day.

Key Concepts

Define key terms to help everyone get on the same page. For instance, explain the differences between an excused absence, an unexcused absence, and a no-show/no-call. Also, note how absences are calculated for tardiness or leaving a shift early.

Laws and Regulations

Your office absenteeism policy should account for applicable laws and regulations, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and laws regarding jury duty leave. Briefly explain these regulations and how they apply to each type of employee (e.g., exempt vs. non-exempt) so everyone knows their rights and responsibilities under the law.

Tracking and Procedures

Outline the process employees should follow to request time off or notify the company when they’re running late or need to take an emergency sick day. This includes specifying whom employees should contact and how to notify them. Remember to address how absences are recorded and tracked in different scenarios, such as being late or taking half days vs. whole days off.


Specify any required documents (e.g., a doctor’s note or jury duty notice) for requesting time off or calling in sick. If your employees must document their request using a specific form, website, or computer application, include the form in your policy or give step-by-step instructions for entering their absences in your tracking system.


Inform employees how many sick and vacation days they’re entitled to and what happens when they miss too many days. Consequences may include losing pay, incurring a verbal or written warning, being called in for a meeting with HR, or possible termination. Before making your policy official, ensure your consequences align with all applicable employment laws.

Why Is It Important to Have an Absentee Policy in the Workplace?

In addition to improving productivity, having an attendance policy in offices can help you get a pulse on employee engagement and morale. If an individual employee has a high absenteeism rate, it could be a sign they need additional support in their personal or professional life. If absenteeism rates are high across the board, it may indicate employees are burned out.

Moreover, an absenteeism policy and procedure will help protect the company from potential legal action. If an employee decides to sue for unlawful termination, a clear policy outlining expectations and consequences can help the company defend itself in legal proceedings. If your company is ever audited by the US Department of Labor, an absentee policy can serve as proof of compliance.

How to Use a PTO Policy to Reduce Absenteeism

In the United States, the average absenteeism rate is 3.1%. If your rate exceeds that, it may begin to affect the productivity of your team as well as your company’s bottom line. Fortunately, creating a paid time off (PTO) policy is one way to reduce absenteeism.

PTO is a determined and agreed-upon number of days per year that an employee can take off of work for various reasons, from sickness to vacations, while still receiving their full wage or salary. For example, a company may offer 10 days, or two work weeks, of PTO in addition to state and national holidays and qualifying parental leave.

Here are some factors to consider when crafting your PTO policy:

Set Parameters

Consult with management to determine how many days employees should be permitted to take off before their absences begin to affect productivity and engagement. It’s also important to decide how they’ll accrue time off and whether you’ll offer separate time banks for different types of employee absences, such as personal days, sick time, and bereavement leave.

Document the Policy

Once the framework has been set, clearly draft the PTO policy to ensure employees understand how much PTO they’re allotted, how to report absences, and their responsibility for ensuring they don’t exceed their PTO limit. Plus, explain what counts as abusing the policy and any possible consequences for excessive unexcused absenteeism.

As a bonus, consider implementing a system to reward employees with excellent attendance records.

Educate Your Supervisors

Train your supervisors on your absence management process to avoid mishaps when determining whether an employee is a no-call/no-show. Educating your supervisors also ensures your absentee policy is applied consistently throughout the organization.

Communicate with Employees

Communicate your new policy to your employees verbally and in writing. Outline your expectations for using it, and encourage them to come to your department with any questions they may have regarding PTO days and reporting procedures. The best workplace attendance policy can help you avoid the costs associated with a disengaged workforce and chronic absenteeism while still giving your people time off to deal with life’s surprises and recharge.

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