The excuses employees give for being late to work can be a little tough to read sometimes, especially from those that give them often. Hearing them again and again can get tiresome too, but you should treat each case individually and with care, nevertheless. Life happens and sometimes that translates to missing work.
Create a Policy
Every company should have a policy for absences, especially if there is an abuser within the company. Your policy should address guidelines for requesting time off and how to handle last minute absences. Whether employees should be issued a warning for a no-call/no-show or fired on the spot is up to the company but employees should know what to expect.
Employees should have an easy way to request and document time off. Writing little notes and sticking them to the manager’s computer screen the day before vacation probably isn’t a great policy. A good method would be the use of a central calendar in the office or, if the company uses online time tracking, requesting time off right from the timecard is the most handy and accountable method.
Sick time use and abuse
When people get sick, there’s usually a little warning. We feel feverish the night before or wake up early feeling unsettled before heading back to bed. At the onset of sickness employees should inform employers, rather than wait until the start of their shift. This should be documented in the policy.
If you suspect employees are using sick time when they’re not sick, you should have a talk with the employee and start asking for doctor’s notes. If the behavior continues and the employee cannot produce doctor’s notes, it is grounds for discipline. These are the types of rules that need to be outlined in the policy.
What to do about a no-call, no-show
It may be tempting to get angry when employees don’t show up for work, but a manager should always try to be sensitive in case of the occasional calamity. The manager should call employees that don’t show up to work, even if employees make it clear that they don’t like their job or if they’re generally irresponsible. Just leave a message to the effect of, “Hi, you didn’t make it in for your shift today. Is everything ok? Please call me back and let me know.”
Disciplining Bad Behavior
Taking sick leave when well, no-shows, and exhausting available leave every month are all examples of bad leave-time behaviors. Depending on what you have outlined in your policy, you should issue warnings, reduce benefits, terminate, etc. But make sure you actually do what your policy outlines. If you are lax about the rules, there will inevitably be an employee that abuses time-off privileges.
Do Employers Need to Pay for It?
Some instances of absenteeism must be paid for by the employer, some require discipline, and some should simply be excused. It depends on the type of absence and the classification of the employee.
Hourly employees that don’t show up for work can either take their accrued sick time, vacation time, or an unpaid day off. This should be laid out in the leave policy. Employers are not required to pay hourly employees for time they are not actually at work (except for sick time in a few cities and states), although it is customary to offer some kind of paid leave.
Rules for docking exempt employees’ pay can be complicated, like in natural disasters. In general, employers must pay their exempt employees regardless of whether or not they show up to work but it’s not quite that simple. For a personal day or a no-show, employers can deduct that time from the employee’s leave balance.
If an employee has jury duty and the papers to prove it, employers in some states must pay the employee. Many states only require that employees not be discharged because of jury duty but states like Colorado, Georgia, and others do require that employees be paid for all or some portion of the time they serve. Despite the laws, the majority of employers do offer jury duty pay.