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Employee Attendance Standards and Expectations

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It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating: absenteeism can be very costly to your company. But if you’re going to take steps to address the problem, you first have to establish what the attendance standards are for your company. There isn’t one single approach that will work for every company out there. Instead, your employee attendance standards should be created to meet your own needs and requirements.

To help you start thinking about how to create an employee attendance standard that will work for you, we’ve assembled a few examples.

The Discipline Process Standard

In this policy standard, a disciplinary process can begin as soon as an employee abuses absences. These abuses can include an excessive number of absences, unreported absences, or unexcused absences.

An Undefined or Discretionary Standard

Although it seems like a contradiction, not having a defined standard can, in and of itself, be a standard. Employees are told that they are expected to be at work on all scheduled days. What is considered to be excessive absences, and the associated level of discipline, is left to the manager’s discretion. This standard can only be effective if the expectation of attendance is made perfectly clear to the employee.

An Employee-Ranking System

Managers can rank employees on their attendance record from best to worst and use this as a tool to designate which employees might be subject to counseling or other disciplinary actions.

A Points or Demerit System

Employees are given demerit points for every absence and or instance of tardiness. Reaching a predetermined amount of demerit points can trigger disciplinary actions, ranging from counseling to termination.

Tracking Infractions

What your company deems as excessive can be laid out in the number of interactions that an employee has committed. This can be a useful standard for attendance policies that combine absences and tardiness. Using this standard, an employee would be facing disciplinary action after a predetermined number of infractions have occurred.

Tracking the Number of Days

This policy standard is similar to the previous example, but instead of using infractions, it looks at the number of days missed. So, after a certain number of days have been missed, the employee is subject to disciplinary action.

Whichever employee attendance standard you choose to implement, be sure it strikes the right balance between flexibility and fairness that fits your company culture. It’s also very important to make sure that it is implemented with consistency across the entire company.

While ATS is passionate about time and attendance and excited to support organizations navigate workforce dynamics around timekeeping and employee time clocks, we recommend you reach out to your regional and/or local HR chapter for more information on common workplace advice and procedures.


Biometric Usage: Growing concerns over the privacy and security of biometrics are driving government regulations surrounding the definition of personal data and how to protect it. These regulations vary from country to country, state-to-state, and in some cases city by city. Most often the governing regulations are dictated based on the location where the information is being collected. It is important to understand the local regulations in the geographic areas in which you operate. If you are uncertain regarding your regulatory obligations, we encourage you to consult with your legal counsel.