Mobile Workforce Management

7 Simple Steps to an Effective Employee Attendance Policy

Samson Kiarie
Last update on:
April 18, 2024 2:40 AM
Published on:

Besides being a good business practice, a well-defined employee attendance policy has numerous benefits. It improves employee productivity and morale, enhances workplace culture, and decimates the costs associated with employee turnover and absenteeism. If you're after these low-hanging fruits, we got you covered. 

In this guide, we'll show you seven simple steps to creating a functional employee attendance policy. We have covered all bases to help you create a policy that boosts flexibility and employee work-life balance. Moreover, we'll show you how Timeero helps implement your attendance policy without violating the underlying labor laws.

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What is a Typical Employee Attendance Policy?

‍An attendance policy is a document that outlines a transparent set of rules regarding employee attendance. It defines when employees should arrive and leave work and how they should register their arrival and exit to curb absenteeism and create a conducive working environment.


An employee attendance policy can apply to typical 9-to-5 jobs and field and mobile employees, where rotating shifts are more common. A well-thought-out employee attendance policy can help achieve the following:

  • Stipulates arrival and departure times from work
  • Establish absences, time-off, and tardiness reporting procedures.
  • Curtail chronic absences and job abandonment.
  • Lay out time-off or medical leave request procedures.
  • Outline the disciplinary action for violations such as unreported and unexcused absence and tardiness.

What Are The Consequences of Not Following an Attendance Policy?

While the benefits of an attendance policy are clear as day, the consequences of operating without one can bog down your business. 

To begin with, you can sometimes overlook occasional absences or tardiness, but these costs add up. According to research, unscheduled absenteeism costs approximately $2,660 each year for salaried workers and $3,600 per year for each hourly employee

The absence-related costs are not only financial. Other consequences of absenteeism include reduced productivity, poor quality of services, and various safety issues.

Managers must also spend more time dealing with disciplinary matters and handling shift replacements. At the same time, the morale of your other employees might be compromised, as they now need to cover for the absent coworkers.

How to Create an Effective Employee Attendance Policy?

Even though they deal with the same issues, employee attendance policies differ from one business to another. The differences depend on many things, mainly the industry, the business type, job requirements, employees, and company culture.

Practically, any attendance policy template that you can find online can be a solid starting point for creating your employee attendance policy. However, you must make extra effort to tailor it to your business needs and the underlying labor laws and regulations.

Here's a seven-step blueprint you can use to tailor your attendance policy: 

Define the Basic Terms That You Will Use

When laying out your employee attendance policy, you must be very clear about the basic terms. While you may be tempted to cover every possible scenario for employee absence, we suggest you stick to the most common issues. 

timeero custom time off categories
Timeero allows you to create custom time-off categories to suit your attendance policy. 

What Should be Included in An Attendance Policy?

Even though attendance policies vary across businesses, their cores often sport near-identical standard provisions and subsections. Some of the things that make up this core include: 

  • Excused Absence — An employee is absent but has notified their manager in advance. Excused absences encapsulate paid time off (PTO), time off in lieu (TOIL), maternity and paternity leave, public holidays, and work-from-home workdays. 
  • Unscheduled absences — An employee is absent for an emergency or other approved reason. These entail Paid sick leave, absence due to extreme weather or natural disaster, family emergency, mental health day off, and Bereavement leave.
  • Tardiness — An employee doesn't show up within a defined time from the start of their shift or is late when returning from a break. Define what is considered tardiness. Many organizations have a five to 15-minute grace period. Employees who overstep the defined grace period enter the tardiness zone. 
  • Early departure — An employee leaves before the shift ends or goes for a break earlier. How many minutes early can an employee leave a planned shift without violating your scheduling policy?
  • Sick days — An employee is absent because of illness. 
  • No-shows — An employee is absent and fails to notify their manager.‍ Read our guide to learn more about the no-call and no-show policy
  • Job abandonment — An employee is absent for several successive days without prior notice, and you can't reach them. How many consecutive absences does the employee need to hit to be considered to have abandoned their job? Also, outline clearly the procedure for providing termination notice. 

Set a realistic time frame for each of these scenarios within your company. For example, you can specify how many days or weeks in advance an employee should request to be absent. When outlining your expectations, use simple language that leaves no room for ambiguity to dispel any confusion. 

In your employee attendance policy, you may give your employees 5 or 10 minutes after their shift has started before you consider them tardy. You may also allow your employees to use sick leave for specific days before asking for a doctor's note. The policy may also require them to inform their manager of their sickness at least one or two hours before their shift starts.

Talk to your managers and team leaders before drafting the policy. Determine what their current expectations and approaches are when it comes to dealing with these issues. With the employee attendance policy set, you will avoid sending mixed messages to your employees and ensure everyone gets the same treatment. Hence, all their practices need to become uniform.                             

Determine Exemptions

You can't predict every possible scenario that may occur. But you may want to include that absence from bereavement, military or jury duty, or other specific circumstances are excused from disciplinary actions.

Also, determine the situations when the last-minute absences are approved. Such cases could, for example, include car accidents or doctor visits. In addition, remember to list what documents employees need to submit to prove legitimate absence. For instance, a medical note may prove that the employee or their child visited the doctor, etc.

Your employee attendance policy can also include examples of unreasonable explanations you will not accept as legitimate reasons for employee absence. This way, you may prevent employees from using excuses for their unscheduled truancy.

timeero shift management
Timeero lets you create employee schedules and hold them accountable in case of any violation.  

Work-From-Home Exceptions

Moreover, in a recent study by Buffer, 98% of employees claimed they would like to work remotely. Even if your company doesn't have a remote workforce, things might change in the future.

When you manage remote or mobile employees, specific challenges arise. Some or all of your employees may perform their duties outside a standard work location. They may work from home or do almost all of their tasks in the field, like construction workers, home healthcare nurses, or caregivers.

For this reason, your employee attendance policy should espouse flexibility. Some of the things to consider include:

  • Are you letting the entire workforce or a department within your organization work from home?
  • If it's a hybrid remote work model, define the days employees will work from home or the office.
  • What will be the starting hours when employees are working from home?

Set a Procedure For Requesting Time Off or Leave

An essential part of your employee attendance policy is a procedure for requesting time off or leave. You must ensure your employees know each step they need to take - what forms they must submit, whom, and how many days in advance. 

There are many ways to manage such requests. For example, some companies use printed templates. Others ask employees to send their requests via email. 

The most efficient approach is sending a request via a scheduling app on their mobile devices. 

Then, employers can approve or deny a request with a few clicks, and employees will be notified immediately.

timeero mobile app 
Timeero enables employees to request time off on Android and iOS smartphones. 

Define Your Employee Attendance System

However, when creating your attendance policy, one of the most critical questions that may arise is - how do you record employee attendance?

Your employee attendance system should include answers to basic questions, such as:

  • How do employees register their on-time attendance?
  • What methods will you use to monitor your employees' attendance?
  • How do you check if their recorded time is precise?

Some companies have security guards record the attendance of their employees. Others use time cards and let their employees punch in and out of their shifts. These methods may seem quick and straightforward but may cause some challenges in practice. ‍

Due to intentional or unintentional human practices, errors often happen. Small mistakes like forgetting to punch or time theft schemes like buddy punching may leave your company bleeding money. The loss transcends the financial cost; such errors could diminish employee morale and put your company's reputation on the line. 

timeero facial recognition 
Timeero facial recognition prevents time theft through buddy punching.

The most reliable attendance tracking system enables you to sidestep all these problems. The solution combines GPS tracking and geofence technology with facial recognition. The features eliminate the need for manual inputs while curtailing malpractices such as buddy and off-site punching.

This is particularly helpful for managers, and shift leads managing teams in dispersed locations, such as home healthcare providers and construction workers. You don't have to worry whether the employees have shown up on time for a shift or they've clocked in from a coffee shop nearby.

With GPS-enabled tracking, the system takes accurate data and provides real-time insights into employee attendance. You can see where mobile employees clocked in and monitor their real-time location from the comfort of your office. 

Attendance Point System

An attendance point system lets you create a scoring system that gives points for each violation. It enhances attendance reporting and enables you to reward employees with incredible attendance records while taking action against violators. 

Here are some examples of how to apply the point system to curb poor attendance:

  • Employees who are late for their shift (more than 10 minutes) get a half-point.
  • Employees who are absent but inform their manager in advance get one point.
  • In the case of a no-show, an employee earns two points.
  • If an employee leaves work early (more than 10 minutes), they are issued a half-point.
  • Suppose an employee is absent for four consecutive days without prior notice, and managers can't reach them. In that case, they get 6 points, equalling job termination.

Set Realistic Disciplinary Actions

timeero notifications
You can set timely reminders to prompt employees to clock in or out.

Even with a good attendance tracking policy and system, infractions are bound to happen. For this reason, you have to provide a transparent disciplinary process to ensure each employee gets the same treatment.

The disciplinary actions should be geared towards two principal goals. First, they help nip tardiness, absenteeism, and other attendance issues before they become pervasive. They should help spot and alienate the bad apples (employees) to prevent them from spoiling the entire bunch (human resources). 

Second, the procedures should be done in a way that keeps your company out of legal trouble (we have covered this comprehensively in the next section)

Remember that you set the boundaries in step #1. The disciplinary actions should outline the procedures to be followed should an employee overstep the stipulated boundaries. For example, if you're dealing with unexcused absences, you could set disciplinary actions such as:

  • Automatic deduction of paid time-off
  • Written or verbal warnings
  • Disciplinary meeting with the manager
  • Demotion or temporary suspension
  • Performance improvement plan (PIP)
  • Termination

Be clear on what circumstances may trigger each disciplinary action. For example, you can define the benchmarks for verbal and written warnings, a meeting with the supervisor, a suspension, or a termination.

You can build disciplinary procedures around the point system. Alternatively, you could use the data on your time-tracking systems to investigate each case. A reliable time tracking system can help zero in on recurring lateness, early clock-outs, and excessive sick leaves. Use these data points to examine poor attendance on a case-by-case basis closely.  

Ensure Your Compliance

To avoid costly inquiries from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you need to pay attention to many areas of employment law. 


Among other things, you need to ensure all your employees are paid properly. If, by any chance, you're thinking about "charging" them when they're absent or late, you must be extremely careful not to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act

When stipulating the conditions for medical leave, refer to the stipulations in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This will help determine employees entitled to up to 12 weeks of annual unpaid but job-protected medical leave. 

In addition, take into account federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when formulating the employee attendance policy. Likewise, don't disregard state laws, like California employment laws, when creating the employee handbook. 

There are many other, much better ways to hold your employees accountable. An employee attendance policy will help you with that.

Employee Acknowledgment

Employees are at the center of a regular attendance policy, and implementation may encounter headwinds without their buy-in. Share the first draft with employees for input that may help circumvent potential implementation hurdles. 

The idea is to get feedback on clauses that may sound out of place or unrealistic. Get input on things such as:

  • Shift start and end time
  • Procedures on PTO requests, emergency leave requests, sick leaves, etc. 
  • Do any disciplinary actions sound punitive?
  • Is the policy objective in general?
  • Is the work-from-home policy too rigid?

However, some employee feedback could be geared towards softening your stance towards policy violators. A good example is when one employee thinks a disciplinary action is too aggressive, whereas the rest think it's reasonable. Disregard such responses and pay attention to feedback that tunes out authentic friction points for the benefit of both parties. 

Once you reach a compromise and smoothen the rough edges around the attendance policy, get your employee to sign it. Employee acknowledgment is critical, as the employee attendance policy directly impacts them. Employees who sign the policy acknowledge that they have reviewed it and agree to its terms.

And suppose your business ever needs to hold the employee accountable for their attendance. In that case, their signature is proof of acknowledgment and gives you the authority to take disciplinary actions.

Implement Employee Attendance Policy With Timeero

Having employees sign the attendance policy sets the implementation in motion. However, the implementation success is hinged on two critical systems: employee scheduling and time-tracking apps. Luckily, you don't have to invest in standalone scheduling and time tracking systems because Timeero has both features. 

You can read our full Timeero review to learn how it streamlines employee attendance tracking. If you're short on time, read on to find the key Timeero features and how they boost employee attendance. 

Employee Scheduling Module

timeero scheduling 
Scheduling employee shifts is a cinch with the easy-to-use Timeero scheduling features. 

Timeero scheduling streamlines various facets of employee attendance, allowing you to maintain the proper staffing numbers at all times. It also outlines employee shifts and task distribution to ensure no employee is overworked — this promotes work-life balance. 

You can import custom schedules in CSV format. Alternatively, you can create a schedule from scratch with the easy-to-use scheduling tools. Creating a schedule is as easy as clicking a day on the calendar and adding the relevant information.

You can add start and end times to match your attendance rules. Lastly, add a description, such as instructions for the job, assign the schedule to relevant users, and hit publish.


When you publish or update the schedule, employees will get an email notification with details about their shifts. This way, they can clearly understand when they should report or leave work and can hold them accountable for violations. This goes a long way toward curbing absenteeism and tardiness. 

The good thing is that employees can decline or accept a scheduled shift based on the work on their plate. If an employee declines a shift, finding a replacement is easier. You can use the user's filter to find unscheduled employees to cover.  

Efficient Time Off Management

Beyond scheduling, Timeero simplifies time off management. Employees can request time off on their mobile devices anywhere, anytime.


All time off requests trickling from your workforce are available on a centralized dashboard. You can accept or reject requests as they come. Alternatively, you can filter them by categories to approve them in order of urgency. 

When you approve an employee's time off, Timeero marks the days on their schedule. This makes it easy for scheduling managers to spot the days and avoid assigning the employee any duty. 

Streamlined Time Tracking

Besides scheduling, Timeero improves time tracking. It ensures employees are clocking in and out at the designated time. To ensure punctuality, you can set the clock in/out reminders to prompt employees to punch in/out when their shift is about to start or end. Moreover, the app notifies shift leads and managers about late clock-ins through email. 

In addition, Timeero lets you set geofences for each job to prevent off-site punching. This is a case where an employee clocks in or out from the coffee shop or miles away from their job site, stealing valuable minutes.


If an employee attempts to clock in outside the job site, the app blocks their attempt. It also sends the manager a push notification when an employee clocks out of bounds. 

timeero geofencing
Timeero enables you to create geofences around job sites to prevent off-site punching. 

Moreover, some employees may ask their buddies to punch them in or out. Besides aiding employees to steal time, buddy punching makes it challenging to track attendance infractions. 

For example, an employee who's one absent day away from a suspension may ask a friend to clock them in and out. 

Thankfully, Timeero offers a facial recognition feature on the Kiosk app. The app captures an image of an employee's face as they clock in or out and compares it with the employee's profile. In case of a mismatch, the app notifies the manager immediately. 

So, How Do You Manage Employee Attendance?

Unscheduled absences and tardiness can be detrimental to your business.

With an effective employee attendance policy and GPS-based employee attendance tracker, you can start holding your employees accountable for their work-related behavior. Attendance problems can quickly become yesterday's problems.

 If you're looking for inspiration, use our attendance policy template as a springboard. 

Once you create a company attendance policy, Timeero will simplify its implementation. The app offers scheduling, time off, and time tracking tools to streamline attendance tracking. Start a free trial today to get a first-hand feel for Timeero features.

Schedule a consultation to learn how Timeero streamlines employee attendance.

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Samson Kiarie

Samson is a mathematician turned content marketer specializing in SaaS and Tech content. He focuses on the practical aspects of software systems while keeping abreast of the industry’s cutting-edge principles to create informative and engaging content. When he’s not writing, Samson spends time playing or watching soccer.

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