In order to maximize productivity, many companies implement time and attendance management policies that employees are required to abide by. The policies explain how much sick or vacation time each employee is entitled to, and how employees should go about scheduling time off. Time and attendance policies also explain how the firm will track each employee’s hours of work and how pay periods are structured.
Laws in some nations, including the United States, require most companies to pay an hourly wage to people not employed as managers or supervisors. A firm's time and attendance management procedures must specify how managers track and record the hours worked by employees. In some countries, firms are required by law to use time cards, on which each employee must document his or her own hours of work. The hourly employees present the completed time card to the department manager at the end of the work week, and the manager must review it for accuracy before approving it and passing the information onto the payroll department.
Many companies allow employees to take sick and vacation time during the year as well as time off as a result of certain life events such as pregnancies, funerals, or military service. The company's time and attendance management policy must explain whether such absences are paid or unpaid and how much notice employees are required to give before taking time off. In most instances, managers or supervisors have to approve staff absences, and employees who take unauthorized time off can face disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Employees are responsible for arriving at work on time and ensuring that they are prepared to start work at the time of their shift. People who get to work late are normally regarded as being tardy, and many firms have strict rules in place that limit the number of times an employee can be tardy before disciplinary measures are taken. Definitions of tardiness vary, and some firms provide employees with some leeway by only recording employees as tardy if they arrive at work several minutes after their scheduled time.
Department managers must take each employee’s attendance record into account when quarterly and annual reviews are conducted. High rates of absenteeism and tardiness can slow down production and reduce efficiency at a firm, so employees with poor attendance records often receive negative performance appraisals. In order to avoid lawsuits stemming from allegations of discrimination in such situations, companies keep time and attendance management records on file for several years.