Looking for a thorough time and attendance policy for remote workers?
A time and attendance policy is essential for every business. It contains everything employees need to know about work hours, attendance and applying for time-offs.
Implementing a time and attendance policy for brick-and-mortar businesses is easy. But how do you implement a time and attendance policy for remote workers?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about drafting a standard policy for every telecommuting employee. We’ll also give you a sample policy template you can use to create your own remote time and attendance policy.
This Article Contains:
(Click on a link to go to a section of your choice)
- What Is A Time And Attendance Policy?
- Why Do You Need A Time And Attendance Policy For Remote Workers?
- What You Should Address In A Remote Time And Attendance Policy
- A Sample Time And Attendance Policy You Can Use
Let’s get started.
What Is A Time And Attendance Policy?
Note: The first few sections of this article explain what a time and attendance policy is, and what goes into creating one. If you’re looking for the policy template, skip ahead to this section.
A time and attendance policy is a document that details what an employer expects from their employees concerning work hours and time-offs.
Here’s what’s usually covered in a time & attendance policy:
- Who does the policy apply to?
- What are the working hours?
- How is work time tracked?
While a time and attendance policy for remote workers is important, it’s not the only policy needed to keep your employees focused.
Check out our guide on how to set up a remote work policy.
Why Do You Need A Time And Attendance Policy For Remote Workers?
While time and attendance policies are considered essential in brick-and-mortar businesses, they’re even more important when running a remote team.
A team working on a telecommuting arrangement is spread across a wide geographical area. It is harder to supervise each remote worker directly in this setup.
And even though a remote work arrangement has its perks, strict guidelines need to be in place. More important than this, each telecommuting employee needs to follow them to work productively.
These guidelines can be laid out in a time and attendance policy — just like an employee handbook.
Through this flexible work policy, you can detail everything relating to –
- Employees’ work hours,
- Time tracking,
- Attendance, and
- Leave approval.
Then, you can set up systems to ensure that your employees abide by the rules and regulations laid out in the telework policy. It will help you take disciplinary action against any telecommuting employee who violates the policy.
What You Should Address In A Remote Time And Attendance Policy
Now that you know the importance of using a time and attendance policy, let’s take a look at what you should include in it:
1. Introduction To The Policy
The introduction to the policy should explain the purpose of the policy.
It should detail which areas will be covered and why this specific remote working policy is needed for employees on a telework agreement.
The introduction is the first impression you give to each remote worker, so make sure it doesn’t sound too lenient or too strict. A lenient policy will cause employees to ignore guidelines. On the other hand, a restrictive policy will unnecessarily stress out employees and affect employee engagement.
The introduction should explain to the telecommuter how the policy helps employees improve – and how that, in turn, helps improve the business.
2. Who Does The Policy Apply To? (Scope)
This section details which individuals are subject to the rules, regulations, guidelines, and disciplinary actions laid out in the policy.
The scope of a remote working policy usually applies to every telecommuting employee (full-time and part-time).
The only exempt employees would usually be the executives. Any independent contractor would also count as a non exempt employee.
3. What Are The Working Hours? (Work Hours)
The working hours section describes the time of day set out for employees to engage in their work.
Working hours can differ depending on the timezone of each employee, but you should set a minimum work hour limit for employees.
Ensure that every remote employee is available within the same timeframe for at least two hours every day. This will help you plan meetings and collaborate easily.
4. How Will Work Hours Be Measured? (Time Tracking)
This section explains how the working hours of employees will be measured.
Since employees work from an alternate worksite, it’s impossible to say how many hours they actually spend on tasks, which is why time tracking is required.
Most companies use a time tracking and productivity tool like Time Doctor to see how many hours employees actually spend on work. Time Doctor can also function as an attendance software since timecards aren’t an option.
These tools will also provide you with metrics like what tasks each remote worker worked on, the number of hours spent on employees’ work and even generate a timesheet and detailed reports in real-time.
5. How Can Employees Keep The Team Informed Of Time Away From Work? (Work Schedule Updating)
The employee scheduling section details how every telecommuting employee should inform teammates about time away from work.
It’s easy to keep track of who’s working and who’s on break at an office.
But when you work in a remote team, you have no visibility of who’s at their desk and who’s not.
So it’s vital to have a common space to let teammates know about work schedules.
You can use something like a Slack channel for this purpose – every worker can send updates on it when they sign-in/out and step away from the workspace for a break.
6. How Will The Attendance Of Field Workers Be Tracked? (GPS Tracking)
The GPS tracking section explains how the employer will track the field agents’ activity while continuing to work from a remote office.
This will function similarly to operations at a brick-and-mortar office – the GPS tracking system will become active when the field agents check-in to work.
You can set up the tracking and attendance system so that field agents will have to submit a list of locations they will travel to during the workday.
The GPS will then track field agents throughout the workday and sync over WiFi so you can see if they’re working on tasks at an approved work location.
7. What Happens When You Track Time Dishonestly? (Consequences of Abusing Time Tracking Software)
This section should explain to each worker the consequences they’ll have to face if they abuse the time tracking software.
Abusing the software can include:
- Editing time entries.
- Presenting idle time as productive work hours.
- Spending work hours on personal tasks.
You can always restrict any telecommuting employee from editing time entries on the time tracking software. Still, it’s important to address the consequences of dishonest time tracking in your time and attendance policy.
8. How Should Employees Apply For Leave/Off-Time? (Leave Applications)
The off-time applications section will detail how every worker should apply for leave when working from a home office.
You can inform employees on a remote work agreement to obtain prior approval from a manager before taking personal time off (PTO). You can choose to set up an HR portal or provide a leave application template for employees to fill out.
It might not seem necessary to follow these steps if you manage a small business with a remote team – but these procedures ensure that every detail regarding employee attendance is recorded, which can be useful in the long run.
9. How To Deal With Unexpected Absenteeism? (Emergency Leave)
Every remote working policy should contain a section that explains what employees can do when they face an emergency and can’t report to work.
You should be clear about what your remote employee should do – have them report to their direct manager regarding the situation. The employee’s supervisor can consider the situation and approve the emergency leave for the employee.
Once the employee reports to work again, they can report the emergency leave to the HR manager or any team member handling HR.
10. How To Manage Leave Days When Working Remotely (Managing Leave)
This section will be less of a strict rule and more of a guideline on how each telecommuting employee can effectively manage their PTO.
Define the number of paid leave days available to each employee at the start of the year, along with the types of leaves available. This way, every remote employee will know which type of leave to choose to take time off.
For example, if they’re sick, they can choose to take “sick leave” instead of “annual leave.”
This will also help the business maintain accurate records of employee attendance.
11. What happens if you go AWOL? (Consequences of Being Absent Without Leave)
This section will detail the consequences of any worker not reporting to work without prior approval.
You can detail the disciplinary actions you will take against employees like fines, suspensions, and work contract termination. This will ensure employees adhere to the terms laid out in your time & attendance policy.
A Sample Remote Time And Attendance Policy You Can Use
Here’s a sample time and attendance policy for remote workers you can use for your business:
(A downloadable version of this policy is available at the end of this section.)
Purpose of The Policy
The purpose of this company policy is to help employees adhere to timekeeping and attendance best practices when tending to their respective job duties.
Through this policy, we expect each staff member to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them when signing in/out of work, working on tasks and taking leave.
Adhering to this policy will help employees improve the efficiency of their workflows, and in turn, help our business grow.
Scope of The Policy
This time and attendance policy applies to every employee of our business, full-time and part-time.
The policy will also apply to any independent contractors hired by the firm.
Elements of The Policy
The elements listed below will clearly define how employees should act concerning attendance, taking leave, and general course of their work.
The standard work hours for the business shall be 9 AM to 6 PM Pacific Time. All employees local to the Pacific Time Zone are expected to report to work within this period.
Employees outside of the Pacific Time Zone can work from 9 AM to 6 PM in their local time zone. However, each employee must be available for two hours every day between 9 AM to 6 PM Pacific Time to report on work progress and partake in meetings through video conferencing.
The business will use the “Time Doctor” time tracking and productivity software to remotely track the time employees spend on tasks. Employees are expected to track time using the software when working on tasks.
This productivity management tool will help managers track how long employees spend on tasks, how many projects an employee works on – and other useful data to help employees improve their efficiency.
Employees are required to use the specified Slack channel to inform team members regarding availability and work schedules.
Employees should announce in the channel when they:
- Log out for a break.
- Log back in after the break.
- Are unable to continue with work for any reason.
Doing so will help team members to keep track of what fellow employees are up to, and proceed with any work as required.
Field workers will have their GPS tracking system activated when they sign in for the day. Before they start the day, they will be required to submit a list of each work location they will be visiting for official purposes.
The GPS tracking system will then monitor field agents’ locations until they sign out. If agents aren’t at a specified worksite during work hours, they will be subject to an inquiry.
Consequences of Abusing Time Tracking Software
For the purpose of this policy, abusing time tracking software will include:
- Editing time entries.
- Presenting idle time as productive work hours.
- Spending work hours on personal tasks.
- Any other behavior deemed abuse by the firm.
If any employee is found abusing the time tracking software, they will be subject to a disciplinary inquiry, which may lead to:
- A warning and/or fine.
- Suspension without pay.
- Termination of employment.
Our organization places high importance on work-life balance. So every eligible employee can take leave on a workday with prior approval from their direct supervisor.
Please use the company HR portal to apply for leave.
Please note that leave applications are approved based on eligibility. If for any reason you are considered ineligible to receive leave approval, not reporting to work will be regarded as taking unpaid leave.
If an employee faces an emergency and cannot report to work, they may inform their direct supervisor and obtain an emergency leave.
Once the employee returns to work, they may file a pre-dated leave application and forward it to the Human Resource Manager to maintain records.
Each employee is allocated 24 days of paid annual leave and 10 days of paid medical leave per calendar year. When obtaining leave, please consult with your manager and request the appropriate type of leave.
This will help the company maintain accurate records regarding all employees.
Consequences of Being Absent Without Leave
An employee will be considered absent without leave when – prior approval from the manager has not been obtained, and the employee hasn’t reported to work for a continuous period of three days.
When an employee returns to work after a period of being absent without leave, the employee will be subject to an inquiry which may lead to:
- A fine
- Suspension without pay.
- Termination of the work arrangement (employment).
Disclaimer: The template we’ve included is meant only to provide a general guideline and should be used as a reference only. This template does 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 using this sample email policy.
Using a time and attendance policy for remote workers can help ease many workforce management problems you’ll have to deal with at work.
It’s not that hard to draft a remote time and attendance policy; just follow the tips we’ve mentioned and take pointers from our sample to draft your policy easily.
Once you finish creating your policy, you’ll be able to manage remote employee time and attendance with ease!
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.