From the Hotline: Standard Attendance Rules

Question: Is there a standard for how many days an employee should miss work before they are “missing too much”?

Answer: First, if you plan to implement new/revised policies, please review these policies with legal counsel for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations prior to implementation.

When determining what attendance rules would be appropriate for your business, you will want to take into account your staffing and business needs. Many companies set a certain number of days allowable per month/per pay period/per quarter etc. There is no general standard that applies to all business because it depends on the industry, business practice, staff etc.

In order to assist you with determining what might work for you, what follows below is sample language to help guide you. I have also attached samples of attendance policies for your reference.

Attendance and punctuality are important factors for your success within our company. We work as a team and this requires that each person be in the right place at the right time. If you are going to be late for work or absent, notify your supervisor as far in advance as is feasible under the circumstances, but before the start of your workday. Personal issues requiring time away from your work, such as doctor’s appointments or other matters, should be scheduled during your nonworking hours if possible. If you are absent for three days without notifying the company, it is assumed that you have voluntarily abandoned your position with the company, and you will be removed from the payroll.

If the need for sick leave is foreseeable, employees are required to give at least 30 days’ advance notice (e.g., a planned medical treatment) whenever possible. If the need for sick leave is not foreseeable, employees are asked to notify their supervisor as soon as is practical.

If an employee misses [Number of Days] or more consecutive days because of illness, [Company Name] may require the employee to provide a physician’s written permission to return to work.

In reference to reviewing your company’s attendance policy in terms of the “no-call/no-show” section, there is no state or federal law that mandates how a private employer determines the rules for attendance and the resulting disciplinary actions.

A majority of employers do use the (3) day rule when considering job abandonment. Below is an example of how this rule is often applied. As you will see, the policy as stated does allow for termination after the second day of absence; it is on the third day that the employee has been deemed to have abandoned their position, thus changing the mp3 free of the separation from involuntary (termination) to voluntary (resignation). This difference can often determine whether or not the former employee would be eligible for unemployment insurance.

If an employee fails to call-in or report to work, this is considered a “no-call, no show” (unscheduled absences without managerial notification). The first “no-call, no-show” will result in a written warning, and subsequent instances of “no-call, no-show” may result in termination of employment. Employees who have three consecutive days of “no-call, no-show” will be immediately terminated for being Absent Without Leave (AWOL).

As a word of caution, do not assume that all no calls or failure to reports are automatic job-abandonment cases. There may be an occasion where an employee may be unable to contact his/her employer for reasons outside of the employee’s control. In cases of a medical condition, the employer is still obligated to determine if the absence is covered under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers must investigate before making any determination to avoid ADA claims, as well as wrongful termination claims. Consult with your legal counsel prior to initiating a termination of employment action.