What Is an Absenteeism Policy?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
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  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2019
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Business managers must often deal with employee absenteeism, so they will develop a policy which addresses this concern. A standard absenteeism policy might discuss how many times a worker can be absent before he will face disciplinary action. It might cover certain types of absences, which are excused, and others that are unexcused, with the goal of reducing absenteeism in the workplace. Most companies require employees to read this policy and sign a statement agreeing to its terms at the time they are hired.

An absenteeism policy is generally geared toward reducing employee absenteeism by spelling out certain sanctions that might occur if it is violated. This could be anything from a verbal warning to termination depending on the frequency of these incidents. The consequences for a first offense are less severe than that of subsequent ones. Most employers have specific guidelines to follow concerning punishment of workers in order to make sure everyone in the workplace is treated in the same manner.


Workplace absenteeism can cost businesses a great deal of money, so many try to address the reasons why people miss work when creating a standard policy. For example, some allowances could be made for individuals who are sick, provided they bring a statement from a physician to their boss. Other companies provide workers with sick days. Employees might also be excused for other things such as jury duty, military service, or a death in the immediate family if they are able to provide documentation of these things to their supervisor.

An absenteeism policy may address tardiness as well. This could mean arriving late for a shift or being tardy when clocking in from break or lunch periods. In some cases, leaving work early could count as an offense as well. Just as with other types of workplace absenteeism, tardiness is generally treated with a verbal warning on the first occasion and more harshly if a pattern of this behavior continues.

Most companies include a standard absenteeism policy as part of an employee handbook, which is given to all workers in an organization. During new-hire training, this document is often one of the first discussed, and workers may also be required to sign a statement saying they have received a copy of this policy. By having rules in place, employers can effectively reduce absenteeism so they can effectively conduct business without being short-handed on a regular basis.


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