What You Need To Know

It is important that employers and employees understand their role in managing attendance.

As an employer, you have the right to expect that employees will attend work regularly and that they will fulfill the duties they were hired to provide.  You also have a responsibility to allow employees to take a leave of absence as defined by the Employment Standards Act and as outlined in your policies and procedures.

Where circumstances occur that require an employee is to be away from the workplace, employees have a responsibility to report such absences as outlined by your company’s policies and/or procedures.  Where a long-term illness or disability exists, employees have a responsibility to report progress and expected date of return regularly and actively participate in return to work planning and/or accommodation.

Why You Need To Know

It is important to understand the variety of factors that may influence employee absenteeism, as some may be for legitimate reasons while other absences may be for illegitimate reasons.

Having policies, procedures, and access to programs that support employees in maintaining regular attendance is a good practice.  Managing absenteeism by using disciplinary procedures is often ineffective.

What You Need To Do

When you hire a new employee, a good orientation should include a discussion about policies and procedures for requesting leaves and reporting absences.  If your employees understand what is expected and the business’ culture is healthy, you may avoid problems. Be proactive and maintain open communications with your employees.

Good strategies for managing absenteeism:

If action is necessary to address performance or attendance issues, use progressive discipline:

  1. First, warn the employee by speaking to them about their absences or performance.
  2. Second, put it in writing. Use clear language. Describe the required change, the timeframe, and what will happen if change does not happen. Have the employee sign that they have read and understood the letter. Keep this signed letter in the employee’s personnel file.
  3. Third, if the written warning did not work, or the situation worsens, consider suspending the employee. Use this as a last chance. Seek the advice of an HR professional before acting.

Termination is a final step. Again, it is wise to seek the advice of a Chartered Human Resources Professional (CPHR) or legal counsel.