Did you know that around 30% of employees show up late to work at least once a month?

That may seem like relatively little, but managers know it can add up over time. With hundreds of employees, that can result in thousands of dollars in lost productivity. The question then becomes how to improve the employee lateness policy.

It’s not as simple as creating a draconian rule that makes employees resent you. But give the policy no teeth, and employees may abuse it more often.

In this guide, we’re here to discuss how to make a fair and effective employee lateness policy.

Define Your Terms for an Employee Lateness Policy

The most important thing you can do is make sure that everyone is on the same page. Ask your employees what “attendance” means, and you’ll get different answers. Some would say it means showing up–even if late–while others would say a late arrival doesn’t count.

Avoiding this confusion from the onset also prevents people from claiming ignorance. It allows you to define what you think the terms mean, so your employees can’t make silly excuses. It also helps to manage employees who work from home.

Employee Attendance Definitions

Let’s cover a few basic terms you may need, to account for as many situations as possible:

  • Absence: an employee does not show up to work, but does notify their manager beforehand
  • Unscheduled absences: an absence that–while for an approved reason–was not notified in advance
  • Tardy: an employee does not show up when their scheduled hours start, but does show up eventually
  • Early leave: a clocked-in employee goes home before the end of their shift
  • Sick day: illness prevents an employee from coming in
  • No-show: an employee does not show, and does not tell their manager, either

Now is the time to set the policies related to the above terms. For example, you should outline how far ahead of time the employee should notify management of an upcoming absence.

Give a threshold for all of these things, too. For example, a tardy is when an employee is at least 5 minutes late. If they show up less than 5 minutes before their shift, they’re clear.

Things like sick leave need a set duration before they become a problem. Many employers ask for a doctor’s note once an employee has been absent for more than one day. You might also have a policy for how long they have to notify the manager of sick leave.

Create Adequate Exceptions

You can’t anticipate every possible situation that leads to employee tardiness. Give your employees some breathing room for those times when life gets in the way.

For example, create a list of exceptions to the rules. These exceptions may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Jury duty: federal law may require you to provide absences for jury duty
  • Bereavement: the employee loses a close family member or friend
  • Church service: a religious team member needs to attend to pressing matters at their church group
  • Military service: a military member is required to serve their country in some capacity

Take Emergencies into Account

Include some accommodation for emergencies like the following:

  • A car accident
  • A house fire or at-home emergency
  • An unexpected trip to the emergency room
  • Childbirth
  • Emergencies with young children
  • An anxiety attack or depressive episode

You want to give everyone the same treatment, so make sure this tardy policy is fair and complete. Employee timeliness may be affected if you are too lenient with certain situations.

Make it Clear How to Request Absences

Now that you have the rules and exceptions outlined, make it easy for employees to schedule absences. This can be a handwritten form that they give to their manager. Or, you can use an online portal so they can do so from their phone or computer.

Provide alternative methods in case the employees can’t access the main one. If the manager is okay with calls or texts, then allow them to do so. This may be ideal so the manager gets notified ASAP.

Decide on Your Disciplinary Action

It’s no fun to punish someone for employee tardiness, but it has to be done. Without consequences, employees will begin to take advantage of your business.

It’s up to you how to proceed, but many employers use a point system. They assign points in relation to the severity of the infraction. If an employee has too many points, they may be terminated.

You can also have a scale of disciplinary action leading up to termination:

  • Verbal warning: an informal warning given by the manager
  • Written warning: a formal, typed-up warning that the manager keeps on file
  • Supervisor meeting: a meeting to discuss repeat absences and tardies
  • Suspension: the employee cannot work for a given period while management decides on further action
  • Termination: the employer ends their professional relationship with the employee when they cannot fulfill their scheduled hours

Include Your Employees in the Process

Most important of all, you should have a meeting to discuss your proposed employee lateness policy. This is only fair since it affects employees the most. They may have valuable input that you may not have thought up on your own.

Work culture plays an important role here. Based on the sort of work your employees do, tardiness may not be as big of an issue. If salaried employees are able to get their work done, then there may be leniency for arriving late and leaving early.

Depending on the industry you work in, employee timeliness may be unnegotiable. In a store environment when you need people on the work floor, you may not be able to afford an absence. In that case, you may need a stricter policy.

Fail to take into account the wants and needs of employees, and you may alienate them. They may become resentful if they feel that your employee lateness policy is unforgiving. Happy employees will work harder for you.

Manage Employee Scheduled Hours with TimeTrak

Your employee lateness policy will be the deciding factor in how you handle absences and tardies. You want a policy that is all-encompassing and includes exceptions for unplanned events. But you also want to take your employees’ thoughts into account before making it final.

Now that you’ve got a tardy system, you need a time clock. TimeTrak is the leader in time clock solutions. Find a solution that works for you.

Published On: November 22nd, 2022 / Categories: Time Management /