Illustration of team working together in office

Source: Page Up

One-off employee absences in the workplace are inevitable and aren’t necessarily a problem. However, when employees fail to keep to your organization’s work schedule, you need to address this. That’s where an employee attendance policy comes into play.

A detailed and well-researched employee attendance document keeps your business running smoothly. It helps you limit workplace frictions and improve productivity. In this article, we will show you how to create and implement an employee attendance policy.

What Is an Employee Attendance Policy?

An employee attendance policy is a formal document that outlines how an organization handles everything related to showing up at work. Within one, you’d find information on how the company addresses attendance issues like tardiness and unscheduled absences and highlights essential information on paid time off (PTO) and sick days.

When you spell out these guidelines, it becomes easier to monitor punctuality and productivity levels in the workplace. In addition, you help workers to limit burnout by ensuring that they take their required breaks.

Why It’s Important to Have an Employee Attendance Policy (3 Benefits)

An employee attendance policy keeps everyone on the same page. Workers can refer to these guidelines at different points to ensure that they are not violating punctuality rules in your company.

Let’s examine some other reasons crafting a good employee attendance policy is a worthy investment for businesses.

An Employee Policy Can Help Control Costs

To meet your business goals, employees need to be fully responsible for their duties. An essential part of this is punctuality. Inconsistent attendance or job abandonment affects business operations and costs. For one, you could miss out on opportunities for increased revenue and potential new customers.

For example, if an employee shows up late to their call center job, it could put extra stress on their team members and reduce the number of calls being answered. If this keeps happening, the business could be in jeopardy to lose some important clients.

It Makes HR Management Easier

When a company spells out all the attendance guidelines, it becomes easier for small and enterprise businesses to manage their workforce efficiently. Human resource managers can enforce attendance requirements while employees’ rights remain protected.

It also allows for seamless business operations. You can coordinate leave requests and approvals, hire temporary staff to fill up positions when the need arises, and ensure that workers get enough time to rest.

It Helps Maintain Fairness in the Workplace

What happens when there is no attendance policy? Some individuals take advantage of the system at the expense of others. For example, an HR manager may give leeway to one employee for missing work yet not for another. Having an attendance policy helps you to avoid these kinds of occurrences where personal discretion is involved.

Without a formal attendance document, double standards become the norm in the workplace. Personal biases and preferences may impede disciplinary actions when an employee errs.

Tips for Creating an Effective Employee Attendance Policy

Illustration of employee punching a time clock

Source: Payroll Partners

Understanding the importance of an employee attendance policy is one piece of the puzzle. The next step is creating one for your business.

In this section, we will go over a few tips for creating an employee attendance policy template. You should tailor these tips to the specific needs of your business.

Consider Your Workplace Culture

Creating an employee attendance policy based on your existing work culture is the key to success. For example, if you’re a remote-first organization with workers in different time zones, your policy may differ from a 100% onsite organization.

Before introducing the policy into your company, organize one-on-one and group conversations with employees. This allows them to share any concerns they have or give their own input.

As you draft the attendance policy, also consider the current lifestyle of your employees, including their most productive time for work.

Keep the Attendance Policy Simple

One perk of having an absenteeism policy and procedure is it clarifies things for all company stakeholders. Now, this wouldn’t be possible if there’s lots of jargon and vague statements in the document. So, whatever you do, make sure your policy document is straightforward to understand.

A helpful tip for this is to highlight sections and use bullet points for crucial points in the policy. Also, use the language that employees are already familiar with, like “sick leave,” “no show,” “paid leave,” “working hours.”

Have Employees Sign off That They Understand the Policy

You should involve employees at different stages in the policy development cycle. After brainstorming with stakeholders and putting together the first draft, share the document with your workers for feedback—you’d be surprised what you might have missed.

Involving employees in the policy development process is a great way to get them on board with your plans. It also increases the chances of the policy’s success.

More than signing off on the policy, it encourages employees to ask questions about gray areas, highlight any sections they are uncomfortable with, and make suggestions on how to improve the document before its approval.

Remain Fair and Realistic

This is perhaps the most important tip for developing an employee attendance policy. The last thing you need is for employees to feel like your attendance policy is high-handed or unfair. So, as much as you want to instill discipline and improve productivity, make sure the guidelines and disciplinary actions are realistic and adhere to employment laws.

You can weigh the impact of a “rule” on the business before listing it in the handbook. For example, showing up 5 minutes late for a meeting might not be as far-reaching as skipping a workday appointment without permission.

So, weigh every behavior and assign penalties that match their impact on your business. Take time to determine what calls for a verbal warning and what requires a written warning and actual punishment. For insight, consider looking at existing attendance policies in your industry to give you a fair idea of what’s obtainable and use these to determine the standards for your company.

Elements of an Attendance Policy (What You Should Consider)

Generally, attendance policies differ from one company to the other. Yet, if you did a thorough analysis into several policy documents, you’d find some recurring information like:

  • Scope of the attendance policy
  • How to calculate attendance infractions
  • Unforeseen absences (how are they handled?)
  • Failing to clock in and clock out
  • Attendance expectations
  • Manager responsibilities
  • Disciplinary actions

Think of each of these elements as the building blocks for any attendance policy in the workplace. Let’s look at what each of them means.

Scope of the Attendance Policy

The scope summarizes the attendance policy. It highlights the most critical points in the policy. In addition, it clearly states that these guidelines bind all employees.

How to Calculate Absence Infractions

If there’s a point system for absence infractions, then you should state it in the policy. A point system attendance policy is one where points are added to an employee’s record if they are absent, tardy, or leave early.

Here’s how a point system works: If an employee leaves work early without permission, for example, they may get 1 point. Unexcused absences are costlier infractions and result in more points. Repeated infractions result in progressive discipline and companies generally terminate a worker once they accumulate a certain number of points.

In the document, spell out any grace periods plus any other exceptions for an excused absence. For example, if an employee suddenly takes ill and is absent from work, there should be no penalty.

Unforeseen Absences (How Are They Handled?)

Since unforeseen absences are unavoidable, it’s best to prepare for them ahead of time.

Unforeseen circumstances can be anything, literally. So, the first thing you want to do is create some context around them. In other words, define what passes as valid reasons for missing work without permission or what you would term excessive absenteeism. For example, if an employee has a medical emergency, they shouldn’t be penalized for missing work.

For these instances, you may want proof and state in the policy that a doctor’s note will be required for these situations. Also, there should be a call-in process/procedure that employees follow when they need to call in sick.

Failing to Clock In and Out

Suppose you require employees to clock in and out for each shift; state this in the policy, along with listing the penalties for failing to do so. Clocking in and out helps the company to record the work time of each employee and reward high-performance.

Attendance Expectations

What makes up an excellent attendance record? And when would you say employees have broken the rules? These are common questions that come up with attendance policies.

To avoid any mixups, list all attendance expectations in your document.

Consider including statements like:

    1. Consistent and regular attendance
    2. Spending the stipulated time at breaks
    3. Getting written permission before being absent from work

Manager Responsibilities

Managers play a crucial role in enforcing attendance policies. To make them more effective in this role, describe their duties and reporting lines in the attendance document. This will help them ensure compliance with the different guidelines in the policy.

Disciplinary Actions

Employees should know the different penalties for not adhering to the attendance guidelines. This creates a transparent disciplinary process.

How to Track and Manage an Attendance Policy

Employee call-off systems can help you track, manage and administer your attendance policy. The right automation tools allow HR managers and team leads to monitor employees seamlessly.

Consider the following:

Use IVR to Track Employee Call-offs

IVR or Interactive Voice Response system allows businesses to automate actions over the phone. It is commonly used in call centers, but it can be a handy tool for companies looking to manage employee call-offs.

By automating call-off hotlines, employees can log permission requests at any point in time. In addition, the IVR system captures essential information like the identity of the employee, their reason for not meeting up with their original schedules, and other relevant information.

Use an Automated Attendance Point Tracking System

An attendance point system is used to track when employees default. When employees cannot meet up with attendance requirements, they lose a point; these points add up to specific penalties.

An automated attendance point tracking system makes it easy for the HR management team to report and record defaults. This limits mixups and disputes associated with tracking defaults manually or with a spreadsheet.

Automate Your Notifications

Consider automating routine attendance tasks like sending queries and warning emails to employees who have defaulted. For example, you can send out automatic call-off notifications to HR managers when an employee logs in a request. Automated systems can send out routine reminders to employees who are at risk of maxing out their points.

Be Prepared to Fill Open Shifts Quickly

When an employee requests time-off, you need to fill their scheduled shift fast. An automated shift backfill system helps you identify the best fits for open shifts and informs them on time.

Sample Employee Attendance Policies

Creating an employee attendance policy from scratch is quite challenging, especially for first-timers. To help you, we’ve highlighted three sample documents in this section. All you need to do is review the structure and change the content to suit the unique needs of your business.

Sample Attendance Policy 1

Also referred to as a tardiness policy, this employee attendance template can help you manage absenteeism and gives you an insight on how to set up or improve your company attendance policy for employees.

It comprises seven significant sections, namely:

    • Policy brief and purpose
    • Scope
    • Policy Elements
    • Unforeseen Absences
    • Good Attendance
    • Manager’s Responsibility
    • Disciplinary Section

It spells out the guidelines for each section. Since the sections are organized with headers, workers can skim through the document quickly to find specific information.

Sample Attendance Policy 2

This simple employee attendance policy template spells out the procedures for requesting permission to be absent, the roles of managers, and the penalties for skipping work without formal authorization.

Sample Attendance Policy 3

Here, you’d find two simple absenteeism policy and procedure templates suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.


Employee attendance has a significant impact on your bottom line, overall business productivity, and a fair work environment. So, creating an employee attendance policy for your company is a step in the right direction. However, it is just one piece of the puzzle.

Administering the attendance policy is going to create the foundation for employee consistency. However, manually monitoring employee compliance can be time-consuming, especially as your company scales and hires more people. Ultimately, you may need some help.

Save time and improve employee attendance with call-off hotline solutions from CMS. Contact us today for your free demo.

By Last Updated: September 15, 2022Categories: Blog10.7 min read