Want to draft an absenteeism policy for remote employees?
Teleworking shouldn’t reduce the rationale for taking time off from work. After all, remote employees also need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
You should set up a clear policy that allows remote employees to be absent from work on a few occasions. The policy should also have measures in place to avoid any misuse.
Additionally, remote working poses many unique challenges, so companies should make sure that their absenteeism policy considers those factors.
Sounds like too much work?
Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about creating an absenteeism policy and give you a free absenteeism policy template for remote employees.
This article contains:
(click on links to jump to a specific section)
- What is an absenteeism policy?
- What should you address in your absenteeism policy?
- A free absenteeism policy for remote employees template
- Why do you need an absenteeism policy for remote employees?
Let’s get rolling.
What is an absenteeism policy?
An absenteeism policy is a set of guidelines used to regulate a teleworking employee’s absenteeism. It outlines the acceptable reasons why a remote worker might miss work.
It should also highlight the disciplinary action the management can take for chronic absenteeism or tardiness.
The best absenteeism policies encourage employees to reduce the number of workdays they miss while still being fair and accounting for the reality of sickness, PTOs (Paid Time Off), vacations, and more.
Note: You should include all your policies (remote work policy, absenteeism policy, etc.) in your employee handbook for easy reference.
What should you address in your absenteeism policy?
Here is what you must consider while drafting your absenteeism policy:
The first thing you should address in an employee absenteeism policy for your remote employees is the purpose of the policy.
Here you’ll explain to your remote employees why you’re implementing an absenteeism policy.
It should also mention the importance of using an absenteeism policy for every employee, such as avoiding workflow disruptions, ensuring efficient team collaboration, etc.
In this section, you must identify which individuals have to follow the rules, guidelines, and disciplinary procedures within the remote work agreement.
The absenteeism policy may apply to your remote full-time employees, part-time employees, independent contractors, or any other partners who are a part of your company.
3. Elements of the policy
Let’s take a look at the key elements of the policy:
A. Leave entitlements
Entitlement refers to the number of leaves an employee gets from the company and usually defines the Paid Time Offs (PTOs.
Your leave days must account for the number of leaves an employee can take, how often they can take them, and when. These can include:
- Vacation days
- National holidays
- Festival leaves
- Administrative leave
- Paid sick leaves
- Family and medical leave
- Parental leave, etc.
Lay down the rules for different kinds of leave and how employees can avail them. Check your country or state laws to ensure that your company follows any leave mandates put down by law.
Set out clear guidelines on when an employee is granted paid leave, unpaid leave, carryforward leaves, etc.
If you have a leave policy that gives employees an unlimited number of leaves, consider adding a clause that holds employees accountable.
You can also consider a bonus for good employee attendance or reimbursement for the leaves not availed by employees.
B. Approvals and documentation
Mention who is responsible for approving leaves at the workplace.
Additionally, write down the different documents required when employees apply for leaves like sick day leaves, maternity leaves, etc.
Consider specifying how employees need to document their work well to make it easier for someone else to take over in case of an emergency.
C. Approved absence
An approved absence is when the employer has granted the employee permission to take an off on workdays. For example, sick leave, jury duty, etc.
Clearly state what is considered an approved absence in your absenteeism policy.
There will be times when employees cannot follow their work schedule.
Approved employee absences in your policy will ensure that employees are not unnecessarily marked absent.
Additionally, approved absences can be verified using official documents that can include a doctor’s note, jury duty notices, etc.
D. FMLA protected leave
If your company is based in the US, check if the company is covered under FMLA( Family and Medical Leave Act.)
Under FMLA, employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year.
You also need to include the difference between exempt or non-exempt employees under FMLA.
According to the regulations, exempt employees can’t claim overtime pay, whereas non-exempt employees can demand overtime pay for all the additional work hours.
Defining absenteeism in your policy isn’t enough. Your company policy also needs to include a clause for tardiness.
Employees should be expected to report to work, as well as return from a break on time.
Telecommuters should have an effective teleworking arrangement at home and let their managers know in advance if there’s any change in their schedule.
Why is this important?
Small instances of tardiness, like being late for a few minutes or taking a longer lunch break, can add up to a huge loss of employee productivity.
Setting up a policy for tardiness will ensure efficient collaboration of the remote team and encourage remote employees to be prompt in their work.
4. Disciplinary action on unapproved or unforeseen absences
Your absenteeism policy must include actions that can be taken against employees who fail to abide by the rules of this telecommuting agreement.
While informing staff members about the disciplinary actions, keep in mind that these are laid only to correct and not to punish the work-related behavior.
A free absenteeism policy for remote employees template
Once you have decided what your absenteeism policy should look like, you have to document it.
How do you do that?
Consider all the points we’ve covered above and use this policy template to draft the perfect absenteeism policy for your remote employees.
A. Introduction and purpose of the policy
We at [company name] are proud to have built a team of highly engaged remote workers who are motivated to give their best performance every day.
We understand that the biggest perk of working remotely is the freedom and flexibility it provides, and we make sure that employees can take full advantage of it.
However, to ensure easy team collaboration on projects and efficient workflow of the company, we must implement a few guidelines.
The purpose of this policy is to make employees of [company name] aware of the company’s expectations of reporting to work.
It lists the procedures of handling absences and tardiness of remote employees to avoid unnecessary disruptions in the workflow and minimize unscheduled absences.
B. Scope of the policy
This policy covers all non-exempt employees of [company name] regardless of position or employment type.
Note: Employees can consult our HR professionals to check whether they are exempt or non-exempt employees under FMLA.
C. Employee absenteeism
We expect employees to report at a scheduled time convenient to them to pre-plan all tasks and meetings accordingly.
Employees are also expected to stay signed in and complete their entire stipulated schedule every day.
Late reporting, early sign-outs, or other absences from scheduled hours are disruptive and must be avoided at all costs.
1. Absenteeism and tardiness
Absenteeism is defined as unreported and/or unverified absence.
Tardiness is defined as the inability to keep to the daily work schedule as set out for the employee. This includes late clock-ins and/or early departure times and over-extended coffee or lunch breaks.
All employees should clock-in and clock-out their work hours on [software name] and complete their stipulated period of time at work.
If an employee’s tardiness or chronic absenteeism starts to disrupt the company’s daily operations, it will be considered ‘inappropriate behavior,’ and our HR professionals might take disciplinary actions against the employee.
2. Absenteeism policy
XX consecutive days of absence without a verifiable reason will be considered job abandonment.
The employee would then have to provide evidence to justify their absence.
The management will authenticate the evidence and decide the future course of action on a case to case basis.
While employees should avoid absenteeism at all times, we understand that emergencies can come up at any time and make them unable to attend to their necessary job duties.
[company name] will consider the following special circumstances for an employee’s absenteeism:
- Military Duty
- Power Cuts
- Jury Duty
- Medical Appointment
- Unavoidable Emergencies.
An appropriate reason for an employee’s absenteeism and tardiness can’t include:
- Unverified medical conditions.
- Unverified sickness of family members.
- Non-approved leave days.
- Personal daily tasks, errands, etc.
It’s the employee’s responsibility to provide their supervisor with official documentation to prove the special circumstance that resulted in their absence.
3. Family and medical leave act (FMLA)
Employees must check their qualifications for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Eligible employees should communicate and arrange their off time with their supervisors XX days before their planned absenteeism.
4. Attendance bonus
Employees who have achieved an attendance record of XX% will be rewarded every XX months. Those achieving an attendance of XX% during the year will stand a chance to receive an annual attendance bonus worth $XX.
Attendance rewards shall also be given to employees who always show up on time for their work shift and keep their supervisor informed about leaves.
D. Disciplinary action
Employees who don’t adhere to the guidelines mentioned above or show consistent low attendance for XX months or days can be subjected to disciplinary action including, but not limited to:
- Suspension without pay.
- A pay cut of $XX.
- Termination of employment.
Other reasons for disciplinary action may include:
- An employee fails to assist the management in tracking their attendance responsibly.
- An employee continuously disrespects the rules of this policy.
- An employee, on multiple occasions, disregards warnings given to them.
I have read and understood the absenteeism policy laid out in this document.
[company name] Representative:
[company name] Employee:
Disclaimer: This template only provides a general guide and reference to create an absenteeism policy for remote employees. It’s not a legal document and doesn’t account for local, state, or federal laws. Neither the author nor Time Doctor assumes any legal liability that may arise from using this sample template.
Why do you need an absenteeism policy for remote employees?
The very notion of telework implies that employers trust their employees enough to do their tasks in their own way.
Most workers have flexible work timings and can choose their own work location.
However, this doesn’t mean that employees are not answerable in any way.
A manager needs to ensure that employees:
- Complete their stipulated amount of working hours every day.
- Follow the guidelines and recommendations outlined in their remote work agreement.
- Set up a separate workspace at home, check-in to sensitive worksites using VPN, etc.
- Use the communication management tools as required by the company, like Zoom for video conferencing, Slack for instant messaging, etc.
- Set up their work schedules in a way that aligns with their coworkers.
Without ensuring these guidelines, it would be challenging for team members to collaborate on a project efficiently.
An absenteeism policy strengthens the remote work arrangement and ensures this by holding employees accountable when working remotely.
It regulates when employees can miss work to avoid disrupting the company’s workflow – curbing chronic absenteeism.
This means your employees don’t have to cover or compensate for their absent or late colleagues – ensuring that the present team members can focus on their work and be more productive.
An adequately documented absenteeism and attendance policy can also protect a company from possible litigation in case the employee’s absence and consequent disciplinary action lead to unfair treatment claims by that employee.
Businesses around the world are embracing telework, and the reason for this is not the Covid pandemic alone.
Telecommuting has tons of advantages for both employers and employees.
However, remote work also brings its own set of challenges.
To ensure you make the most of your human resource, you must implement an absenteeism policy that helps them stay committed to their work and minimize unplanned leaves.
Setting up an absenteeism policy may seem complicated at first, but it doesn’t need a lot of work.
Just follow the tips we have mentioned and use the above template to create an effective absenteeism policy for your remote employees.
Liam Martin is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.