Absenteeism Policy

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What is Absenteeism Policy? 


The best resource of a company is its people. Employees are essential in running a tight ship, a productive business, and smooth daily operations. In a perfect world, all employees show up promptly and work as scheduled. However, part of managing employees is having to deal with absences and tardiness. It does not matter how large or small an organization is; it is essential to have an absenteeism policy in place. This will benefit both the employees and the business. 

An absenteeism policy is a policy that outlines various procedures and guidelines aimed towards decreasing the number of missed workdays of employees. Any policy that is about attendance, tardiness, vacation leaves, sick leaves, paid time off, or any other leave that a company has is considered an absenteeism policy. 

The content of a typical absenteeism policy includes an overview of the policy, a detailed list of acceptable reasons for missing work, and procedures for employees to follow. It also includes any disciplinary action and repercussions that will be implemented should there be extreme absenteeism. 


Why is it important?


For small businesses, having an absenteeism policy might seem a little bit too formal. Employees should know that coming to work on time is expected, calling in if you are not going to work is required, and scheduling time off is respectful. However, having an absenteeism policy in place is always better than not having any policy at all. It is best to formally define “schedule leave,” “paid time off,” “tardiness,” “sick leave,” “unscheduled absence,” and other terms that employees use. They should be aware of what to do and what to expect if absenteeism becomes excessive. 

Having an absenteeism policy will help leaders, employees, and the organization as a whole. 


What is the role of HR in an Absenteeism Policy?


The human resources team plays an active role in the development and implementation of an absenteeism policy. Together with the leadership team, they take into account the needs of the organization and the possible reasons why employees miss work or report late for work. Acceptable reasons are: scheduled leaves, medical emergencies, sickness, or injury. 

An absenteeism policy needs to be communicated with employees. No matter how comprehensive a policy is, implementation is crucial. How do you ensure this? Increasing employee awareness is the first step. HR is responsible for orienting new employees about the absenteeism policy. They must know what the job responsibilities are in terms of schedule and the consequences for tardiness or absences. Additionally, the HR team must train managers, supervisors, and all other leaders regarding the absenteeism policy details.  Any change or amendment in the Absenteeism Policy should be communicated before implementation. 


Can a company use paid time off days to help reduce absenteeism?


Many organizations offer PTO or “paid time off” policies as part of their benefits program. Sometimes referred to as personal time off, many job seekers consider paid time off a benefit that they can expect from an employer. When considering a job offer, the PTO benefit is always welcome. 


The paid time off benefit provides employees with a certain number of days that they can use for any purpose. These are additional days off on top of national holidays and any parental leave. The number of days depended on the organization. Employees will still be fully compensated even while on PTO, provided that they schedule it and have it approved accordingly. Who would not want to go on a family vacation and be paid for it as if you reported for work? Or go on that once in a lifetime trip overseas? If needed, employees can also use their PTO days for medical reasons. 

Some may question if it is wise to pay employees for days that they do not work. While it may seem counterproductive, a closer look will reveal that it can help reduce absenteeism. Since employees are aware of how much PTO they can only use, they become more careful of missed work days. For businesses, HR teams have to have a monitoring system in place to track each employee’s PTO and attendance. 


What are helpful ways in implementing an absenteeism policy?


Absenteeism policies should be clear and consistent. Terms should be well-defined and black and white. It is best for language to be easy to understand. To avoid misinterpretation and confusion, the policy may have a section where terms are defined. What is the meaning of an “unscheduled absence”? How many minutes is considered late or “tardy”? Is there a grace period? How long should a lunch break be? Additionally, outline procedures well. Let employees know how they can file for PTO, what to do when they need to take an emergency leave and other scenarios. 

Overall, shifting the focus from absences or tardiness to attendance and dedication will make a difference. Instead of highlighting that HR is rigorously checking how many absences employees make, why not reward those with perfect attendance? Big or small, celebrate attendance wins. It will be a great encouragement to boost morale.

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