How to Create an Employee Attendance Policy (2021 Guide)

Employee attendance policy

Want to learn how to create an employee attendance policy?

Successful companies around the world have one thing in common – all of them have excellent employee attendance. 

But what happens when your employees don’t turn up?

Your processes get disrupted, you face a personnel crunch and you will inevitably miss your deadlines. And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting businesses everywhere, monitoring employee attendance remotely is becoming harder than ever!

Doesn’t sound ideal, right?

A detailed employee attendance policy is an efficient way to avoid these attendance issues. 

It’ll outline everything your employees need to know about turning up for work and the consequences of poor employee attendance.   

To help you out, we’ll cover what an attendance policy is and what you need to include in your policy. To get you started, we will give you a sample employee attendance policy template.

This Article Contains:

What Is An Employee Attendance Policy?

Note: These first few sections cover the basics of attendance policies and what they should cover, if you want to skip ahead to the template, click here.

An employee attendance policy is a document that contains all the information your employees need with regard to attendance. It’ll contain how employees are expected to attend work, the levels of attendance expected and even the problems associated with attendance.

For example, a fair employee attendance policy will cover a variety of common attendance problems.  These attendance issues can range from tardiness and unscheduled absence, and even include sick days and personal leave. 

This policy also helps you explain disciplinary action for those that do not adhere to the company’s attendance requirements.

Why Do You Need An Attendance Policy?

Having an employee attendance policy has several benefits: 

1. Keeps everyone on the same page

An attendance policy helps the employee understand what is expected of them when it comes to attendance at work.  This policy also explains why their punctuality and regular attendance is important.  

It’ll also clearly outline the consequences of not following the attendance guidelines – making sure everyone is aware of what they need to avoid.

2. Protects Yourself From Possible Litigation 

What happens if employee absence and the subsequent punishment results in unfair treatment claims by that employee?

To protect yourself from this, your attendance policy serves as a legal document. As it covers a wide variety of attendance issues clearly – every employee knows what’s in store for them. 

This way, in case of any future litigation, you can refer to the policy in their employee handbook as proof that everything was explained and the employee consented to follow these regulations. 

What Goes Into An Employee Attendance Policy?

Now you know why having an employee attendance policy is important, but what should go into that policy?

To ensure that you don’t miss anything important, we’ve compiled a list of important sections that should be addressed in your policy.  

1. Clarifications over all aspects of attendance

How can you make sure your attendance policy is understood by everyone?

You want to cover a variety of attendance issues in your policy.  

However, having too many terms will start to confuse your employee.  

Clearly explaining the different terms used in the policy will help you avoid any possible confusion about employee attendance expectations.

Here are some examples terms you should define in your policy:

A. Absenteeism

When you start to define absenteeism in your policy, you must be specific about what marks an employee as absent. Remember, absenteeism can include vacation days, medical leave, or jury duty.

Your employees also need to know what they need to do to avoid negative attendance points or disciplinary action.   

Remember to also include what you view as excessive absenteeism or job abandonment, and the disciplinary action for those attendance infractions.   

B. Approved absence vs. Unexcused Absence

Even though you want to eliminate employee absence, there will be times when employees cannot stick to their work schedule.  By explaining approved absence in your policy, employees are less likely to be unnecessarily marked absent.

Approved absence can be verified by using official documents such as doctor’s note or jury duty notices. These circumstances can be handled by your human resource department when needed.

C. Exempt Employees and Non-Exempt Employees

Your policy also needs to include the difference between exempt employees and non-exempt employees. The FLSA regulations clearly state that exempt employees cannot claim for overtime pay. 

A non exempt employee, on the other hand, CAN claim overtime pay for any additional hours they worked.  

D. Sick Day vs Personal leave

Will you be allocating paid sick leave in your policy

What needs to be provided to qualify for that sick leave?

These are just some of the questions you need to answer in your policy. 

Your attendance policy can also include personal leave options so that your employees don’t use up their sick leave inappropriately.  You can also include an additional paid time off option such as a Vacation Day for added flexibility.

E. FMLA protected leave


Is your company covered for FMLA leave?  

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period.   

Ensure that your work attendance policy takes this into account and clearly explains this process.

F. Tardiness

How do you define tardy behavior?  

Your policy needs to include how you define tardiness.  This clarification will help employees understand how important punctuality is and qualifies for it.

For example, will an employee be marked as tardy if they arrive 15 minutes late for their scheduled shift?  Or will you be more lenient when it comes to the start time of a work schedule?

If you want to only address tardy behavior, consider setting up a tardiness policy to accompany your attendance policy.  

2. How will you measure employee attendance? 

You’ve now clarified all the important terms in your policy. 

But how will you track and measure the attendance of every employee in your company?  

This is where you mention your attendance management system into your policy.

For example, will you be using logins, biometric scanners, or simple timecards? 

Or, with remote working becoming so popular, will you be using online tools to track attendance instead?

Explaining this in your attendance policy is important because it gives employees clarity over the attendance process to prevent any misunderstandings in the future.

3. Will you be adding an Attendance bonus? 

Awarding employees for excellent attendance is a great incentive for employees that also works as a great employee morale booster.

You can measure a good attendance by evaluating the following:

  • Consistently on time for work.
  • Not leaving the office to run personal errands.
  • Always informing their supervisor about potential leaves.

By assigning attendance points to each of these activities, you can accurately measure the regular attendance of your employee.

But how often should you reward good attendance to work as an employee morale booster? 

You can reward good attendance either on a monthly or annual basis. This will give you enough time to accurately measure and employee attendance.   

4. Disciplinary procedures

When you outline the disciplinary procedures in your policy, your employees will know the consequences of poor employee attendance.  

You can use a simple “point” system to track any employee attendance problems, such as: 

  • Absent, with proven reason: 1 point.
  • Absent, no call or excuse: 2 points.
  • Tardy: ½ point.
  • Fails to report for work at the scheduled work time: ½ point.
  • Late return from lunch or break: 1 point (over 30 minutes).
  • Not at workstation during work hours: 3 points

You can use these poor attendance points to calculate the employee’s attendance infractions, and assign the progressive discipline actions: 

  • 15 points: Verbal warning is given.
  • 30 points: Written warning is given.
  • 45 points: Meeting with supervisor, possible solution, or suspension.
  • 60 points: Employee will be subject to termination.

A sample employee attendance policy template 

Here’s a sample employee attendance policy that you can use for your organization:

Overview and purpose of this attendance policy

Regular attendance is encouraged at [company name]. All employees, regardless of position and departments, are important to the success of the company.  Not showing up for work and tardiness causes unwanted disruptions that we want to avoid.  

This policy will outline the expectations and procedures we expect from our employees regarding their attendance. 

Employee Attendance 

At [company name] we are proud that we have built a fair and responsible workplace for all our employees. When an employee’s tardiness or excessive absenteeism starts to cause a disruption for others and the company’s daily operations, it is considered “inappropriate behavior” and the disciplinary procedures will begin.  

Absenteeism vs. Tardiness

Absenteeism will be defined as unreported and/or unverified absence. 

Tardiness will be defined as the inability to keep to the daily work schedule as set out for the employee.  This includes late arrival and/or early departure times, and over-extended coffee/lunch breaks. Times exceeding XX minutes will be considered as tardiness. 

Absenteeism should be avoided at all times, however, we understand that not every day goes according to plan. We require our employees to try to the best of their ability to communicate to their supervisor of any unplanned absenteeism.  

If the employee finds themselves in an unpredictable circumstance which results in an unplanned absence, the onus is on the employee to notify their supervisor immediately.  

The employee will be marked as absent if failure to report a verifiable reason to their immediate supervisor.

If an employee is marked absent for three or more consecutive days, the employee needs to provide evidence to justify their prolonged absence. 

The following is not considered an appropriate excuse for an employee’s absenteeism: 

  • Car trouble or malfunctions
  • Unverified medical conditions
  • Unverified family member sickness 
  • Non-approved leave days
  • Oversleeping 
  • Personal daily tasks/errands

Employee attendance exceptions

The following special circumstances will be taken into consideration by the supervisor for an employee’s absenteeism:

  • Car Accident, 
  • Childbirth,
  • Bereavement,
  • Military Duty,
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Funerals, 
  • Jury Duty, 
  • Medical Appointment,
  • Unavoidable Emergencies. 

The onus is on the employee to provide their supervisor with official documentation to prove the special circumstance which resulted in their absence.  

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

If you qualify for FMLA leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it is your responsibility to communicate and arrange your time off with your supervisor XX days before your planned absenteeism. 

Disciplinary procedure and point system

Consistent poor attendance by an employee, for XX months/days, will result in disciplinary action, and possible termination of an employee’s contract.  

Violations of this attendance policy will be measured using a point system. This system is set up to reasonably measure the attendance of an employee:

  • Absent, with proven reason: XX point.
  • Absent, no excuse: XX points.
  • Tardy: XX point.
  • Fails to report for work at the scheduled work time
  • Late return from lunch or break: XX point (over XX minutes).
  • Not at workstation during work hours: XX points

These negative attendance points will be calculated and depending on points accumulated, progressive disciplinary action will take place as follows: 

  • XXX points: Verbal warning is given.
  • XXX points: Written warning is given.
  • XXX points: Meeting with supervisor, possible solution, or suspension.
  • XXX points: Employee will be subject to termination.

Other reasons for disciplinary action may include:

  • A solution cannot be found after XXX meetings between the employee and supervisor. 
  • An employee fails to responsibly assist in tracking their attendance. 
  • An employee continuously disrespects the rules of this policy.
  • An employee, on multiple occasions, disregards warnings given to them 

Points will be reset to zero at the end of each year.  

Attendance Bonus

Those employees who have achieved an attendance record of XX% will be rewarded every month.  Those achieving an attendance of XX% during the year will stand a chance to win an annual attendance bonus worth XX. 

Attendance points will be given to the employee who:

  • Is consistently on time for their work shift.
  • Doesn’t leave the office to run personal errands.
  • Keeps their supervisor informed about leaves.


I have read and understood the contents laid out in this document which are outlined in this attendance policy.  

I ____________________ agree to abide by the guidelines as outlined in this policy.  

Read and agreed by:

Employee: ____________________

Signature: ____________________

Supervisor: ____________________

Signature: ____________________

Date: ____________________

Disclaimer: This policy template we’ve provided is only meant to be a general guide, and can only be used as a reference. This policy template may not account for local, state, or federal laws and other applicable laws, and should not be considered a legal document. Neither the author nor Time Doctor will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this sample Employee Attendance policy. 

Wrapping up

The most important thing to remember when drawing up your attendance policy is that your employees are human. Having an empathetic outlook when drafting up this policy will encourage fairness and will create a system that works for everyone.  

And to ensure that you create a fair employee attendance policy for your employee handbook, simply follow the steps we outlined here and you’ll be fine.

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