Modernize your attendance tracking, without needing an app. Join the webinar.

Modernize your attendance tracking, without needing an app.

Book a Demo
Worker clocking in
Jun 29, 2023

How to Write an Effective Employee Attendance Policy: Template & Example Included [2024]

Explore Topic: Attendance Management

Tips for writing and implementing an employee attendance policy. If you're having trouble getting employees in the door, it might be time to update and refine your company's policy.

Fix the root cause of No-Call No-Show with TeamSense Book a Demo

Fix the root cause of No-Call No-Show with TeamSense

Book a Demo

If you're grappling with chronic lateness, unexplained absences or simply want to establish a strong employee attendance policy from scratch, you're in the right place.

Together, we'll lay the pieces on the table, examine them carefully, and build a policy that's as robust as it is fair. After all, a well-structured attendance policy is much more than just a list of rules – it's the foundation for a productive, engaged, and happy workforce. In fact, employee illness, injury, and absenteeism cost employers $226 billion annually!. But, the good news is that a well-structured employee attendance policy can help alleviate some of that burden.

Our comprehensive guide is designed to help you navigate the intricacies of creating an effective employee attendance policy in 2023. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential elements your policy should cover, discuss how to handle persistent poor attendance issues and provide you with a handy template to get you started. By putting in place an attendance policy that is both efficient and fair, organizations can curb absenteeism, mitigate productivity losses, and cultivate a culture where accountability and responsibility thrive.

So, let's dive in and review how to craft an employee attendance policy that will set the foundation for a thriving and engaged workforce.

Why Create a New Employee Attendance Policy in the First Place?

Ah, the age-old question: "Why fix something if it isn't broken?" But when it comes to your company's productivity, employee morale, and overall harmony, waiting for things to 'break' is not the best strategy. An employee attendance policy isn't just a preventive measure—it's a tool for nurturing a respectful, professional, and highly productive workplace. It’s about setting expectations, reducing both absenteeism and tardiness, and optimizing productivity and costs. Let's explore this a bit more.

Standardize Attendance Requirements

Crafting an employee attendance policy is a great way to communicate consistent attendance rules and requirements across the board, regardless of departments or positions. With well-defined expectations about punctuality, working hours, and time-off procedures, employees will know exactly what’s expected of them and can feel a sense of consistency and equity throughout the organization.

Reduced Absenteeism

One of the significant challenges organizations face is absenteeism, which can disrupt workflow, decrease productivity, and put a strain on other employees. Employee attendance policies can address absenteeism by clearly outlining the consequences for unexcused absences, tardiness, and excessive leave. They set the basis for regular check-ins and promote scheduling PTO and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Additionally, it’s an opportunity for management to impress upon their teams how crucial they are to the success of the business.

Optimize Productivity & Costs

An effective attendance policy paired with a great absence management system provides a structured framework for managing employee schedules, shift rotations, and time-off requests. Supervisors can easily track and manage employee attendance infractions, optimize staffing levels, and facilitate efficient resource allocation. This can lead to improved operational efficiency, enhanced productivity, and better coordination among team members.

What to Include in Your Employee Attendance Policy

As promised, let's now delve deeper into crafting your employee attendance policy. Each component of this policy plays a pivotal role, just like unique pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Together, they create a comprehensive policy that champions fairness, supports productivity, and fosters an inclusive work environment. Let's explore each of these key pieces.

1. Clear Definitions of Common Terms

Your employee attendance policy should include clear definitions of common terms related to attendance, such as approved absences, unscheduled absences, tardiness, no-shows, sick days, early departures, and job abandonment. Providing concise and well-defined explanations eliminates ambiguity and ensures all employees know what constitutes each type of attendance-related event.

2. How to Report Absences

Your attendance policy should also clearly outline procedures for reporting absences. It should specify the preferred channels of communication, such as email, phone call, or text, as well as detail the required information to be included in the absence notification, such as the reason for the absence and the expected duration.

3. Realistic Policy Violation Consequences

To encourage compliance, attendance policies should clearly outline the consequences of policy violations. By specifying the potential disciplinary actions, such as verbal warnings, a written warning, probationary periods, or termination, employees will understand the seriousness of non-compliance and the potential impact on their employment. However, consequences should always be equitable, consistent, and proportional to the severity and frequency of attendance infractions.

4. Flexible Attendance Policies

It is important to offer flexible attendance contingencies in order to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. This may involve providing options for remote work, flexible working hours, or alternative work arrangements to accommodate employees' personal or family needs. By incorporating flexibility, you can promote a healthy company culture and work-life balance while boosting employee engagement and retention. It’s a win-win!

5. Support for Employees

One of the most vital aspects of your company's attendance policy, is how it reflects your company's commitment to employee well-being. It's important to understand that employees may face personal or health-related challenges that can impact their attendance. This is where your policy should offer a helping hand. Incorporating resources such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or counseling services in your policy not only support employees during difficult times but also underlines your organization's genuine care and empathy for its team members.

6. Accessibility & Accommodations

Inclusivity is crucial in any attendance policy. Ensure that your policy emphasizes accessibility and accommodations for employees with disabilities or other special needs. This may involve providing alternative attendance tracking methods, adjustments to attendance requirements, or flexible leave options for exempt employees.

By promoting accessibility, you create a more inclusive work environment where all employees can thrive and contribute their best.

Boosting Efficiency: A 3PL Company Slashes Absenteeism by 39% with TeamSense

TeamSense changed the way this 3PL handled absenteeism, resulting in significant improvement in absenteeism rates, and can help your company too!

Take Me to the Case Study!

Best Practices: Things To Consider When Creating & Implementing Your Attendance Policy

It's time to put our insights into action. Creating an employee attendance policy is just one part of the journey; effectively implementing it is where the rubber meets the road. Here, we're going to walk you through some best practices to ensure your policy not only looks good on paper but also works effectively in your unique organizational environment. From understanding your company culture and securing employee buy-in to enforcing the policy consistently, we've got you covered. Let's get started.

Understand Your Company Culture

Consider the values, norms, and expectations that shape your organization. Aligning the attendance policy with your company culture ensures it resonates with employees and is more likely to be embraced and followed.

By incorporating cultural nuances, you can create a policy that reflects the unique identity and working environment of your organization.

Consider Employee Buy-in

Securing employee buy-in is essential for the success of your an attendance policy. One way to achieve employee buy-in is by actively involving them during the policy's development through surveys, focus groups, or open forums. Incorporating employee perspectives demonstrates that their opinions are valued and that the policy is crafted with their well-being in mind.

Attendance policies should also be easy for all parties to understand and follow. Make it easy for employees to call off work and for supervisors to manage absences by combining a clear attendance policy with an attendance management system that works for everyone.

At TeamSense, one of our biggest focuses is employee buy-in. We designed our text-based call-off system to be loved by hourly employees–and it is! We use text messages to communicate, so there’s no need for hourly employees to download an app or learn new technology. With 100% adoption and zero employee complaints, TeamSense makes it easy to enforce adherence to attendance policies.

Provide Clear Definitions and Examples

It's important to avoid any ambiguity in your policy. Clearly define what constitutes tardiness, absenteeism, or a no-show. Be specific about when and how to inform about absences and what justifications for absence will be considered acceptable. Including examples can help illustrate these points.

Ensure the Policy is Accessible and Communicated Effectively

Your attendance policy should be readily accessible to all employees. It could be included in the employee handbook, posted on your internal website, or discussed during orientation sessions for new hires. Regularly reminding employees of the policy can also be beneficial.

Provide Training for Managers and Supervisors

Managers and supervisors play a crucial role in enforcing the attendance policy. Provide training to ensure they understand the policy in depth and are comfortable addressing any issues that arise. Their consistent application of the policy is key to its effectiveness.

Include a Process for Reporting and Addressing Grievances

Your policy should include a clear procedure for employees to report any issues or grievances related to attendance. This could be disputes over recorded absences, disagreements about penalties, or concerns about fairness. Addressing grievances promptly and transparently can help maintain trust and morale among employees.

Implement Fair Practices for All Employees

Consistency in policy implementation builds trust, fosters a sense of fairness, and minimizes the potential for conflicts or grievances. Ensure that the attendance policy is applied uniformly across all departments, levels, and positions within the organization and avoid any bias or favoritism when addressing company attendance policy-related issues.

Prioritize Compliance

Create a culture where attendance is valued and recognized as a crucial aspect of individual and organizational success. This reinforces the message that attendance is a shared responsibility and a fundamental part of the working relationship.

This means that everyone from hourly workers up to the CEO needs to comply.

Enforce the Attendance Policy

Address policy violations promptly and fairly, following the predetermined consequences outlined in the policy. Ensure that managers and supervisors are trained on how to enforce the policy consistently and handle attendance-related issues effectively. By enforcing the policy consistently, you demonstrate the organization's commitment to accountability and create a work environment that values attendance and punctuality.

Regular Training and Updates

Train all employees, especially managers and supervisors, on the intricacies of the policy and its enforcement. Also, make it a point to keep your team updated about any changes in the policy. Regular refresher courses can serve to reiterate the policy’s importance and ensure alignment across the board.

Employ Effective Attendance Tracking Software

Leverage technology to simplify attendance tracking. Using modern attendance software can reduce manual errors, provide real-time insights, and make tracking attendance more efficient. This digital approach can also help in identifying trends and facilitating data-driven decision-making.

Employees reviewing attendance policy

Is your call-in process terrible? Text reduces no-shows and absenteeism by up to 40%.

Don't believe us? Check out this case study to see how this 3PL benefited.

Book my walkthrough

Legal Considerations When Drafting an Employee Attendance Policy

Drafting an employee attendance policy requires a deep understanding of various legal frameworks to ensure your policy is not only effective but also legally compliant. Here are some vital legal aspects to consider when crafting your policy:

Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA governs standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment across the United States. Your attendance policy, specifically the provisions regarding timekeeping and overtime, should align with these regulations. This includes appropriately calculating overtime and ensuring accurate time tracking for all employees, especially those working non-standard hours.

Understanding and Incorporating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons, with the continuation of group health insurance coverage. Your policy should clearly delineate these FMLA leave provisions, ensuring that employees understand the eligibility requirements, the process for applying for such leave, and the protections provided under this law.

Adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. This might necessitate flexibility in your attendance policy, such as modified work schedules or additional leave. Ensure your policy accommodates these requirements to maintain an inclusive workplace and avoid potential discrimination claims.

Compliance with State and Local Laws

In addition to federal laws, your attendance policy should comply with applicable state and local laws. These laws can vary widely and may offer additional protections to employees, such as mandatory sick leave policies. Familiarize yourself with these regulations for each location where your company operates to ensure full compliance.

Incorporation of Jury Duty and Voting Leave

Most states require employers to provide time off for civic duties like jury service and voting. Your policy should include clear provisions for these types of leave, detailing the process for requesting time off and any documentation that may be required.

Respecting Privacy and Data Protection Laws

If your company uses attendance tracking software, it's vital to adhere to privacy and data protection laws. These laws, which may vary depending on your location and where your data is stored, protect employees' personal information. Your policy should include details about how attendance data is collected, stored, and used to ensure transparency and trust.

While these points provide a solid foundation, they are not exhaustive. It's always wise to consult with a legal expert when drafting your attendance policy. A well-crafted, legally compliant policy can protect both the organization and its employees while fostering a fair, productive work environment.

Employee Attendance Policy Example

Now that we've taken a deep dive into the whys and hows of crafting an effective employee attendance policy, it's time to put that knowledge to practical use. But fear not; you don't have to start from scratch. We've created a free, customizable Employee Attendance Policy Template to kick-start your process. This template incorporates all the vital elements discussed, providing you with a comprehensive framework that you can adapt to fit your unique organizational needs.

TeamSense has a free employee attendance policy template you can get started with right now.

Want to draft up your own? Here’s what you should include.

I. Purpose & Scope

State the overall purpose of your attendance policy and who it applies to. For example: “This attendance policy aims to manage proper operations, increase productivity, and foster a supportive work environment by encouraging regular and punctual attendance among all employees.”

II. Definitions

Next, include all your required definitions, including:

a. Absence: An absence refers to any occasion when an employee does not report for their scheduled work shift.
b. Excused Absence: Excused absences are when employees miss work for a valid and usually pre-approved reason such as personal illness, family emergency, or jury duty.
c. Unexcused Absence: An unexcused absence occurs when an employee misses work without a valid reason or prior approval from their supervisor.
d. Excessive Absenteeism: This term describes when an employee's rate of absence exceeds the standard or acceptable amount as defined by the company's attendance policy.
e. Tardiness: This happens when an employee arrives later than their scheduled work shift or returns late from a break.
f. Early Departure: Early departure takes place when an employee leaves work before the end of their scheduled shift without pre-approval.
g. Job Abandonment: Job abandonment is when an employee fails to report to work for consecutive days without notifying their supervisor or seeking approval.
h. Paid Time Off (PTO): This policy allows employees to accrue hours they can use to take time off work and still receive their regular pay.
i. Leave of Absence: A leave of absence is an extended period of time off work, granted by the employer, which could be paid or unpaid.
j. No-Call, No-Show: This refers to instances where an employee fails to show up for their scheduled shift without informing their supervisor.
k. Flextime: A flexible hours policy that allows employees to start and end their workday at varying times while still working the required number of hours.

Remember, your specific definitions may need to adjust to fit your company's policies or practices.

III. Absence Reporting & Time Off Requests

Make sure to include how attendance and sick leave will be reported and tracked. Something like: “Employees are required to report absences to [designated person/department] using [specific method], at least [timeframe] consecutive days before their scheduled shift start time.”

Other things to consider talking about in this section include:

Absence Reporting

If an employee cannot report to work due to illness or any other reason, they should notify their supervisor as soon as possible. Preferably, this notification should occur at least one hour before the start of their shift, or according to your specific company policy. Employees should provide a reason for the absence and, if possible, the expected duration.

Procedure for Planned Absences

For planned absences, such as personal days or vacation time, employees should submit a time off request to their supervisor in advance. The time frame for such requests should be specified in the policy (e.g., two weeks in advance for vacation days). All requests are subject to approval based on operational needs.

Procedure for Unplanned Absences

In the case of unexpected absences, such as sudden illness, employees should contact their supervisor or designated contact person as soon as possible and no later than the start time of their shift. The company may require a doctor's note or other documentation for absences due to illness, in accordance with applicable laws.

Extended Absences

In the case of extended absences, employees may be required to provide additional documentation, such as a doctor's note, and may need to take leave in accordance with FMLA or other relevant leave policies.

Time Off Requests

Time off requests should be submitted through the company's designated system, whether it's a digital platform, email, or paper form. The request should include the type of leave being requested (e.g., vacation, personal), the start and end date of the leave, and any other necessary information.

Approvals for time off are based on a variety of factors, including the operational needs of the business and the employee's available leave balance. Once a request is reviewed, the employee will be notified of the approval or denial of their request.

Remember, the purpose of this section of the policy is to clearly communicate expectations and procedures around reporting absences and requesting time off. This not only helps the organization manage staffing and productivity, but also ensures employees understand their responsibilities in maintaining regular attendance and timely reporting.

IV. Attendance Policy Approach (Point System, Non-Point System, or No-Fault)

Select your desired attendance policy approach and provide an in-depth explanation, including point values, thresholds, or case-by-case evaluation procedures.

Point System Approach

A point system approach to attendance involves assigning points or demerits for different types of absences, tardiness, or early departures. The specifics can vary greatly depending on the organization, but generally, employees accumulate points for each infraction. When an employee reaches a certain point threshold, disciplinary action is taken. This might range from a verbal warning for initial infractions to more severe consequences such as termination for repeated offenses.

This system provides a clear, objective method for tracking and addressing attendance issues. However, it can sometimes be perceived as rigid or overly punitive. If you choose to adopt a point system, it's crucial to clearly define the point values for different infractions and the corresponding consequences once certain thresholds are reached.

Non-Point System Approach

A non-point system approach, or traditional system, evaluates each absence on its own merits. Instead of accruing points, employees' attendance issues are handled individually, often involving discussions with management or human resources to understand the reasons behind the absences and find potential solutions.

This method provides more flexibility and can be seen as more humane, as it allows for consideration of individual circumstances. However, it can also be viewed as subjective or inconsistent. To ensure fairness and prevent perceived favoritism, clear guidelines should be established on how each case is evaluated.

No-Fault System Approach

The no-fault system approach, also known as the occurrence-based system, treats every absence as an 'occurrence,' regardless of the reason behind it. Employees are allowed a certain number of occurrences before disciplinary action is taken. It simplifies the process of managing attendance as it does not require distinguishing between different types of absences.

This approach promotes accountability as it applies the same rule to everyone, regardless of the reason for the absence. On the downside, it can be seen as lacking in empathy as it does not take into account legitimate reasons for absences, like illness or family emergencies. To adopt a no-fault system, it's important to define the number of allowable occurrences and the disciplinary procedures that follow when the limit is exceeded.

V. Consequences for Policy Violations

In any well-crafted employee attendance policy, it is essential to outline the consequences of policy violations. A clear system of the progressive discipline process helps employees understand the seriousness of attendance issues and the actions that will be taken if their attendance does not improve. Here's how you could structure it:

1. Verbal Warning

For a first offense or minor infraction, a verbal warning might be sufficient. During a one-on-one meeting, the supervisor should explain the infraction, emphasize the importance of regular attendance, and discuss ways to improve. The conversation should be documented in the employee's file.

2. Written Warning

If attendance does not improve after a verbal warning, the next step could be a written warning. This written documentation should outline the nature of the attendance issue, previous discussions about the problem, and steps the employee needs to take to improve.

3. Final Written Warning

If the attendance issue persists, a final written warning can be given. This should include a summary of past warnings, a clear description of the problem, and a final opportunity for the employee to correct their attendance. The warning should also include a note that further infractions could lead to more severe consequences, including termination.

4. Suspension or Termination

In cases of excessive absenteeism or tardiness, or if previous warnings have not resulted in improvement, more severe action may be necessary. This disciplinary action could be unpaid suspension or, in the most severe cases, termination of employment.

5. Appeal Process

It's also important to include an appeal process in your attendance policy. This allows employees to dispute attendance violations if they believe they were incorrectly applied or in case of extenuating circumstances.

Remember, every situation is unique, and disciplinary measures should be appropriate to the severity and frequency of the infractions. Always seek legal counsel when drafting or revising disciplinary procedures to ensure they comply with local labor laws and regulations.

VI. Support and Accommodations

When drafting an attendance policy, it's important to take into account the need for support and accommodations. Let's explore how these can be integrated into your policy:

1. Support for Employees with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. This could include a modified work schedule, additional breaks, or a work-from-home arrangement. Your policy should make it clear that such accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the law, and with the input of the employee and their healthcare provider.

2. Religious Observances

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees' sincerely held religious beliefs, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Accommodations could include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, or modifications to workplace policies or practices.

3. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Many organizations offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to support employees who are dealing with personal issues that may impact their attendance or job performance. These programs can provide resources for handling stress, mental health issues, substance abuse, and other personal concerns.

4. Work-From-Home or Flexible Scheduling Policies

For some employees, flexible scheduling or the ability to work from home on occasion may be the support they need to balance work with personal responsibilities. If your organization offers these options, they should be mentioned in the attendance policy, along with details about who qualifies for them and how to request them.

5. Medical or Family Leave

Your policy should reference the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. If your company offers any additional paid or unpaid leave options, these should also be included.

In all cases, your policy should direct employees to the appropriate human resources contact or department for questions or requests related to these accommodations and support programs.

Include details about available human resources and, support programs, or accommodations for employees with disabilities, religious observances, or other special circumstances.

VII. Policy Review and Updates

Indicate how often the policy will be reviewed and updated, and how changes will be communicated to employees.

How to Improve Employee Attendance

The decision to revamp your employee attendance policy is often triggered by concerns such as escalating absenteeism or no-call/no-show situations. So, how do you go beyond a well-drafted policy to create a culture that truly encourages regular attendance? In this section, we move from policy to practice, providing you with proven strategies to effectively improve attendance. From innovative incentives, work-life balance initiatives, to addressing root causes of excessive absenteeism, let's delve into how you can turn attendance from a requirement into a rewarding experience.

Offer Incentives

Consider implementing reward programs or recognition systems that acknowledge and appreciate employee performance or employees with excellent or good attendance records beforehand. This can include bonuses, additional time off, or other incentives that motivate employees to maintain regular attendance.

Support Work-Life Balance

Provide flexible work arrangements such as remote work options, flexible scheduling, or compressed workweeks, allowing employees to balance their personal and professional commitments more effectively. Additionally, encourage employees to take advantage of vacation time and time-off policies to recharge and reduce burnout.

Provide Employee Development Opportunities

When employees feel that their professional growth is valued, they are more likely to remain engaged and committed to their work and attendance. In fact, 94% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an employer if they invest in learning and development. Offer training programs, workshops, or educational opportunities that enhance employees' skills and knowledge. You can’t afford not to!

Address Causes of Absenteeism

Conduct regular assessments to identify common reasons for absences, such as health issues, workplace dissatisfaction, or personal challenges. Implement strategies to mitigate these factors, such as promoting a healthy work environment, offering wellness programs, or providing access to employee assistance programs.

By proactively addressing the root causes, you can reduce absenteeism and create a supportive workplace culture that encourages good attendance throughout.

Manage Employee Attendance with TeamSense

Crafting a practical and fair employee attendance policy can feel complicated, to say the least. You have to lay out expectations around punctuality, schedule management, and of course, attendance. There's also the task of finding a consistent and efficient way to track and monitor employee absences and time off. And let's not forget about enforcing the policy.

To top it all off, you have to be there for your team, accommodating flexible work arrangements, and providing resources to overcome any roadblocks that might affect their attendance. It’s a lot to take on.

But here's the good news: a well-executed employee attendance policy can do wonders for your organization. And if you pair your a solid employee attendance policy with an attendance management system–that’s when your management can turn around. Together, they can lower absenteeism, boost communication, enhance employee engagement, and supercharge productivity. It sets the stage for a more organized and supportive work environment where both employees and supervisors are less stressed and more engaged.

TeamSense is the perfect solution to facilitate this process seamlessly. Our platform allows you to manage attendance for hourly employees through text messages–no need for complicated apps or stuffy paperwork! Employees just text a designated number, fill out the intuitive survey that’s texted back to them, and then managers are notified immediately. It’s that simple.

Ready to streamline your company's employee attendance policy? Take the first step by seeing TeamSense in action. Experience firsthand how effective attendance management can transform your business.


The use of a point system can depend on your organization's specific needs. Such a system can help make the policy clear and easy to understand by assigning points for different types of absences or tardiness. However, it might also come across as punitive. It is crucial to maintain a balance between encouraging attendance and fostering a supportive work environment.

The best method for recording employee attendance can vary based on your organization's size and needs. Traditional methods include time clocks and timesheets, while digital solutions include time-tracking software and applications. The chosen method should be accurate, easy to use, and able to provide insightful data for decision-making.

Enforcement of the attendance policy should focus on accountability and fairness. Regularly communicate the policy's importance, provide clear expectations, and make sure to enforce it consistently. It's also crucial to address violations in a constructive manner that emphasizes improvement rather than punishment.

Regularly reviewing and updating the attendance policy can ensure its ongoing relevance and effectiveness. Consider conducting an annual review, although changes in legislation, shifts in company strategy, or feedback from employees might necessitate more frequent updates.

Chronic absenteeism can be addressed through clear communication, consistent policy enforcement, and by addressing the root causes. Consider conducting individual meetings with employees who have high absence rates to understand their challenges and find potential solutions. In some cases, disciplinary actions may be necessary, but always strive to address the issue in a supportive and understanding manner.


Target the root of no-shows in your call-in process. Text solves the issue.

Schedule my demo!