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How to craft a perfect employee attendance policy 

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We can try to be as punctual as humanly possible but whether we like it or not, we will be late from time to time. 

Whether it’s due to commuting, an illness, or personal matters, we can all be occasionally late to work from time to time.

Therefore, employers tend to protect themselves with employee attendance policies that establish clear-cut rules and sanctions in cases of prolonged tardiness.

In the following lines, we will:

  • Establish what employee attendance policies are,
  • Offer a free template and examples on filling out a policy, and
  • Give you tips on improving an attendance policy.

What is an attendance policy?

In essence, an employee attendance policy represents a set of documents that display clear rules on attendance and company guidelines regarding matters such as:

  • Shift times, 
  • Lunch breaks,
  • Tardiness, 
  • Procedures (PTO, leaves, etc.), and 
  • Any disciplinary actions arising from disobeying the rules.

The intricacies, exact rules, and numbers are up to the employer to regulate, as long as they are:

  • Legal, 
  • In accordance with the employment contract, and 
  • In line with employee rights.

What to include in an attendance policy?

Choosing the key points of your attendance policy is almost always arbitrary since it largely depends on the needs and type of the business. 

However, there are some regulatory measures that always seem to find their place in most of attendance policies:

  • Introductory part,
  • Working hours policy,
  • Tardiness policy,
  • Paid Time Off (PTO) and excused absences policy,
  • Unexcused absences policy,
  • Disciplinary actions policy, and
  • Exceptions.

Up next are explanations in more details and examples on how you can fill out your employee attendance policy.

How to fill out the attendance policy template?

Here’s a breakdown of what the best possible attendance policy should include in order to improve your business.

⬇️ Employee Attendance Policy (FREE TEMPLATE)

Introductory part

As the heading suggests, an introductory part represents an opening to your employee attendance policy that should set the tone for the rest of the document or set of documents.

Generally, you’d want to sound professional and concise, but you shouldn’t sound too strict.

Here’s a simple example of how you can start the introductory paragraph:

Our mutual goal is maintaining stability and achieving progress. Therefore, we think it’s in everyone’s best interest at (Company name) to follow the guidelines set forth in this document in order to avoid disciplinary actions.

Working hours policy

Nowadays, most companies offer flexible working hours, but it’s still of major importance that employees work in somewhat overlapping schedules to improve communication and collaboration.

So, most companies either set a specific time period during which an employee works per shift, or a specific timeframe within which they have to complete their tasks.

Here’s an example on how you can write your own working hours policy:

Working hours at (Company name):

  • All employees are expected to start their shifts from (Input clock-in time here) to (Input clock-out time here).
  • All employees are entitled to a lunch break lasting 30 minutes, anywhere between (Lunch break start time) and (Lunch break finish time).

Tardiness policy

In almost all cases, businesses craft attendance policy due to tardiness, which is present in all industries. In general, tardiness is considered being late to work, no matter the time frame.

Employers, however, are aware of external factors that could impact one’s attendance, which is why a grace period is often introduced — at least 15-20 minutes or 30 minutes the most.

If your employees struggle with getting to work on time, here’s an example of a tardiness policy you can use:

In simple terms, tardiness is defined as the quality of being late or slow. All employees must arrive to work on time in order to avoid disciplinary actions. 

However, a grace period of (Insert time here) is provided in case of emergencies and excused absences.

Pro Tip

Are your employees absent from work frequently? Read the following blog to learn more about how to manage your employees and minimize the effects of tardiness:

In most cases, employees around the world have access to paid time off — usually referred to as days off from work that generally include:

  • Sick days, 
  • Vacation days, and 
  • Personal days.

No matter the accrual method or the number of days off from work the employee has, there are generally rules that have to be followed in order to take the time off.

Also, employers generally pool in excused absences with PTO since an employee does not have to suffer consequences in unforeseen situations, such as:

  • Accidents,
  • Illnesses, 
  • Childbirth, and
  • Emergency situations.

Here’s an example of a policy you can use for PTO and excused absences:

All employees at (Insert company name here) can take PTO during any period of the year if they do with the following:

  • Check with their coworkers if they planned a vacation in the same time frame, and
  • Notify their superior (Insert time here) in advance.

When it comes to excused absences, employees will not suffer consequences in cases of:

  • Illnesses,
  • Childbirth,
  • Accidents, and
  • Various emergency situations which are stated clearly in the work contract.

Pro Tip

If you’re in need of a software that can precisely track time and let your employees request PTO, look no further than here:

Unexcused absences policy

On the other side of the spectrum, there are situations when employees do not fulfill their work duties or simply do not show up for work (no call no show). 

Such behavior is usually characterized by unexcused tardiness and should not be tolerated if there was no prior notification.

Here’s an example on how you can handle such cases via policy upgrade:

In case of no show no call absence, the employee will receive (Insert disciplinary action here).

In case of repeated absences with no previous notification, the employee will be considered to have abandoned the job and will receive (Insert disciplinary action here).

Disciplinary action policy

As stated previously, disciplinary actions ensue when any policies established in the agreement are broken. They can range from less dangerous first-offender sanctions to termination of work contracts.

Here’s a breakdown of disciplinary actions you can use for your business:

The (Insert company name here) recognizes the following as disciplinary actions that will ensue in case of not following the previously stated rules:

  • First-offender warning,
  • Written warning,
  • Final warning — meeting with the HR department, and
  • Termination.


Due to business-specific or state-related intricacies, many employers will list out types of tardiness exceptions to the rules. In such cases, the employees will either not be penalized or they will suffer minor sanctions.

Here’s an example you can use:

The following are exemptions from unexcused absenteeism:

  • Jury duty,
  • Military duty,
  • FMLA leave,
  • Voting leave, and
  • Emergency response leave.

How do you improve an attendance policy?

Since the previous are generalized attendance policy points, there’s no way to know if they’ll fit the needs for your business. Some employers might find more benefits from a detailed tardiness section, while others might need more disciplinary actions if they run a tight ship with a lot of employees.

Still, there are 4 generalized tips we can offer to help you improve your employee attendance policy overall:

  1. Be specific: make sure your employees know the right clock in/out times and the exact grace period in order to protect your business,
  2. Be just and fair: make sure your disciplinary actions fit the crime,
  3. Make sure everyone understands the policies: make sure your HR department informs everyone on the key points of the attendance policy, and
  4. Reward compliance: make sure perfect attendance is rewarded, and therefore, is inspiring to others.

Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Clockify blog.

To learn more about attendance policies and how to craft them, we recommend reading the full article: