Regular attendance is key to maintaining a successful,
productive organization. A full-time job cannot be performed by a
part-time employee. An employee should be expected to come to work
ready to perform the requirements of their job every day; excessive
tardiness and absenteeism cannot be tolerated. Managing employee
attendance is critical in maintaining an efficient and effective
workforce, and creates a number of challenges for
Perhaps the most significant challenge presented by poor
attendance is the impact to overall productivity. If employees
cannot be depended on to come to work when scheduled, operations
may be short-handed, which can lead to unnecessary costs.
Additionally, other employees may be forced to take on more work in
order to compensate for the missing individual. This can have
impacts on overall employee morale and engagement, where there may
be a perception that the absent employee is not pulling their
weight, or is being given special treatment.
Accordingly, managing attendance effectively should be a key
priority for all employees. Here are some tips:
Implement an attendance management policy and program which
establishes expectations and identifies specific, progressive
consequences for each level of infraction. Make sure it
distinguishes between culpable and non-culpable
absences.1 For example, generally speaking, employees
cannot be penalized for non-culpable absences (e.g. statutory
Consistently apply and enforce that policy. Employers must be
diligent and consistent in managing absenteeism, but it is
important to be fair and flexible.
The Employer has a statutory obligation to accommodate
employees who are disabled. There may also be a requirement under a
collective agreement. In meeting this obligation, employers should
alter or modify work methods or schedules, as well as make
facilities accessible wherever possible. Ensure that any
accommodation is based on dialogue with the employee and that the
employee is providing the necessary information (see next point) so
that the accommodation can work.
Wherever possible, it is recommended that medical documentation
be provided by a specialist who is treating the employee, rather
than simply a note from the individual's family doctor.
Remember that some collective agreements have restrictions on
obtaining medical information. Employers should be diligent in
ensuring employees justify their absence and in determining the
employee's restrictions and functional abilities, as they may
be able to accommodate the individual.
Document, document, document! Keep records which account for
all interactions regarding an employee's record of
1. There are two types of absenteeism: culpable and
non-culpable (or innocent). Culpable absenteeism refers to an
unexcused absence for which the employee is blameworthy (e.g.
sleeping in, no call/no show). Non-culpable (or innocent)
absenteeism, refers to a recognized and approved excused absence
(e.g. vacation, bereavement, etc.).
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