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Employee Attendance Policy: Free Template + How to Write It

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Have you ever considered how the annual costs of absenteeism and tardiness affect your company? A study by Circadian reveals that unplanned absences might cost businesses up to $3,600 for each hourly employee and $2,650 for every salaried worker yearly. 

These numbers don’t show how harmful absenteeism can be to team morale, productivity, or customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking to give your business a leg up and encourage both accountability and productivity among your staff - creating an employee attendance policy is your answer.

In this article, we’ll give you actionable advice on how to write an attendance policy properly and also share a free employee attendance policy template in PDF format. 

If you’re considering taking your employee attendance management to the next level, we’ll introduce you to some of the best GPS employee tracker apps to help you monitor and improve your team’s performance.

So, let’s get started!

What Is the Employee Attendance Policy?

The employee attendance policy is a document that outlines the company’s rules and expectations about employee attendance to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity in the workplace. 

However, not all attendance policies are effective or fair. Some policies may be too strict, lenient, unclear, inconsistent, or incompatible with the company’s culture or goals.

Some may wonder: What is a good attendance policy?

A well-written attendance management policy:

  • Sets clear expectations and standards when it comes to employee attendance
  • Establishes procedures for requesting time off, reporting tardiness or absences
  • Addresses the potential problems associated with attendance infractions, such as excessive absenteeism, no-shows, late arrivals, or excessive sick leave.
  • It is written in a clear and easy-to-understand manner and accessible to all employees in the employee handbook.

Besides setting the company’s expectations, an employee attendance policy makes scheduling, tracking, recording, and enforcing employee attendance transparent. 

By having a good attendance policy, the company can ensure compliance with labor laws, maintain fairness and consistency, and treat its employees equally. Businesses can also improve employee morale, engagement, and performance in the workplace by following the guidelines listed in an attendance policy.

What Is a Reasonable Attendance Policy? 

Let’s face it - life is unpredictable, and unforeseen situations happen. A last-minute family emergency is just one example. 

But for this to be an exception and not a rule, your team must be on the same page regarding absenteeism and tardiness. Your attendance policy will establish clear standards for employees while also allowing flexibility.

In all honesty, being late, tardy, or absent frequently puts co-workers under pressure and causes disruptions in work.

To promote a healthy workplace environment, the company attendance policy should aim at maintaining a steady work schedule while encouraging employee autonomy at the same time. 

What Are the Benefits of Having an Attendance Policy?

Before we get to the most important part - how to write an employee attendance policy that works, let’s quickly go over why it matters and what benefits it brings to your company.

  • Streamlined Workflow. When you set clear schedules and absence rules, employees know when to show up for work and how to notify you if they need time off.
  • Universal Standards. A consistent attendance policy means everyone is on the same page and accountable for their actions.
  • Balanced Flexibility. If you have remote or flexible workers, you can give them enough freedom while still holding them to the core attendance expectations.
  • Reduced Absenteeism. By tracking how often your employees show up for work, you can spot any patterns of frequent no-shows and address them before they become a problem.
  • Improved Team Morale. Managing absenteeism proactively ensures that the workload is fair and balanced. This prevents overloading the employees who are present, keeping the team happy and productive.
  • Cost-efficiency. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that absenteeism costs an average of $1,685 per employee each year or $225.8 billion annually. By decreasing the number of unexpected absences, you can eliminate the need to hire extra help, outsource, and deal with high employee turnover.

In short, a good employee attendance policy is not just about keeping track of time - it’s about creating a positive, efficient, and profitable work environment.

How Do I Write an Employee Attendance Policy?

If you want your company to run smoothly and maintain a professional atmosphere, crafting an effective employee attendance policy is vital. 

Here’s a concise guide to help you draft a transparent and fair tardiness policy that aligns seamlessly with your company’s culture and objectives.

Determine the Scope

Who’s Affected? Start by pinning down which members of your workforce the policy pertains to. Is it designed exclusively for nonexempt employees? Are specific positions or types of employment exempt from this policy? Be explicit in your criteria.

Establish Key Policy Elements

Set Clear Expectations: Clearly articulate what’s expected regarding attendance. This includes punctuality, adhering to schedules, and the repercussions of frequent tardiness or absenteeism.

Distinguish Between Excused and Unexcused Absences

Excused Absences: Offer a comprehensive list detailing circumstances that qualify as excused absences. This might include grave accidents, pressing family matters, or sudden medical emergencies. Remember to mention the type of documentation or proof required to validate such absences, such as a doctor’s note.

Unexcused Absences: Provide a roster of reasons that won’t be accepted as valid excuses for unexcused or unreported absences.

Lay Down Employee Absence Reporting Protocols

When it comes to the reporting process, clarity is the key. 

Elaborate on how employees should communicate their absences or late arrivals. Who should they reach out to? How should they log their absence in the company’s official timekeeping platform? 

Every step should be transparent.

What Are the Consequences For Not Meeting Attendance Policy? 

Accountability in the workplace is crucial. Be explicit about the ramifications of not sticking to the attendance policy.

If an employee consistently sidesteps the policy, what are the consequences? 

This might range from a verbal warning or written warning to a progressive disciplinary approach, ultimately ending in termination. 

For more details, check our comprehensive guide on creating an employee attendance policy

What Are the Key Points Of a Comprehensive Attendance Policy?

timeero mobile app preview
Timeero: A Simple and Effective Attendance Solution for Employees

Working Hours and Employee Scheduling 

If you don’t allow flexible hours at your workplace, define working hours and the scheduling procedure in your company. If there are any differences depending on the type of work or locations, specify it in your policy, too.

If you have remote or hybrid employees, include them in the policy, too.


In addition to describing the work schedule and attendance expectations, it’s also recommended to include the time and attendance tracking method your company implements.

Make your expectations about accurate timekeeping clear, and explain the importance of tracking their working hours and/or breaks.

In today’s digital age, it’s common to move away from paper timesheets and adopt modern GPS trackers for employees. These solutions are easy to implement and won’t put an additional burden on your employees’ shoulders.

Good attendance 

To make the concept of employee attendance easy to understand, start by defining what is considered good attendance. You can include that a good attendance record consists of  behaviors such as:

  • consistently reporting to work
  • arriving at the start time of the scheduled shift 
  • leaving work at the shift end time
  • remaining at work when overtime is required
  • being present during working hours 
  • taking breaks according to the company’s break policy
  • Informing a manager when the need arises to be absent or late
  • requesting PTO according to the company’s procedure
  • Providing valid excuses and documentation when tardy or absent  
  • tracking attendance using the company-chosen method regularly

Definitions of Potential Attendance Violations

Not all time and attendance policies contain definitions.  

Besides explaining regular attendance requirements, be sure to define common attendance issues. Make sure you clarify terms such as absence, tardiness, early departure, and no-show.

Defining what type of behavior is considered job abandonment is also an important part of your attendance policy. For instance, failure to show up for work for a specific number of days in a row without notifying the company can be cause for termination. 

Procedures for Excused Absences

Excused absences include paid time off (PTO), time off in lieu (TOIL), maternity and paternity leave, public holidays, and scheduled work-from-home days scheduled and agreed upon in advance. Define what is considered an excused absence in your company.

The written procedure for excused absences typically addresses whom workers should submit their time off requests and how far in advance they need to be submitted.

Some excused absences won’t be scheduled.  Writing clearly defined requirements for taking such leaves will establish employee expectations and provide reporting guidelines.    

Sick days are the most obvious excused absences, where employees must notify their managers as soon as possible and, upon return, provide a doctor’s note.

Check out our article on the Vacation and Sick Leave Policy, or download a template that you can easily adjust to your needs. 

Procedure for Unexcused Absences

A fair and effective employee attendance policy will explain what is considered an unexcused absence.

To learn more about this issue, check out our piece on the no-call/ no-show policy.

Failure to Clock In and Clock Out

Your employee attendance policy should define what employees should do if they have a problem reporting their time.  Employees need to know the process to follow when an issue arises during clocking in or out, who to report issues to, and how soon they must report the issue. 

It should also address the situation when an employee repeatedly forgets to clock in or out - whether it will be considered a violation and a subject of disciplinary action.

Disciplinary Measures

Most employers resort to disciplinary measures to discourage poor attendance.  Levels of discipline range from verbal and written warnings to disciplinary meetings, suspension, or even termination.

Creating an attendance point system is an easy way to track infractions and apply actions progressively.

It’s also a great way to identify the employees with perfect attendance and reward them. A day off, Perfect Attendance Bonus, or Employee of the Month Award are just some ideas you can consider.

Employee Acknowledgement

Employee acknowledgment forms are essential parts of corporate policies, even though they are often overlooked. Including it in your policy is advisable, as it provides evidence that an employee has reviewed it and consented to its terms.

If the attendance policy needs to be enforced, having an employee’s signed acknowledgment in their personnel file strengthens your position. Although the law does not mandate signing a policy or an employee handbook, it is a wise business practice.

Give Your Employees Flexibility Along With a Set of Guidelines

Structure and clear rules are essential for us all. They help us navigate our daily lives and know what to expect. The same goes for the work environment and your employees. When they see what’s expected of them and your company’s culture, it will be easier for them to follow it and organize their workdays accordingly.

However, we all know how unpredictable life can be, so it’s essential for your employee attendance policy to provide fair guidelines.

Make sure to allow some room for issues that can emerge at the last minute that could prevent your team from fulfilling their work responsibilities as usual. 

For example, you may grant a Mental Health Day or a one-time excuse (without a penalty) for an absence that’s not scheduled or tardiness. Even the best of your employees, with spotless attendance records, may sometimes be late or have an unscheduled absence due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Instead of disciplinary action, you’ll allow them some wiggle room; for instance, a one to five minute grace period after clock-in is given before an employee is considered tardy. 

This type of flexibility is an optional part of your policy. Still, it’s a great way to show your employees you appreciate their effort and are willing to be flexible as long as they have a good attendance record.

Ensure Compliance: Which Laws Should You Consider?

Now that you know the key elements of a comprehensive attendance policy, it’s time to introduce the legal considerations you must be mindful of when creating your guidelines.

Take a look at relevant laws in the context of time and attendance policy writing:

Aside from these laws, there are a few more regulations to take into account:

  • Equal employment opportunity laws - federal and state legislation
  • State regulations related to wages, hours, and overtime
  • Paid sick leave laws - both state and local
  • Break laws for states with specific requirements, such as California Break Laws 

Timeero: A Simple and Effective Solution for Your Employee Attendance Policy

An important factor of a healthy work environment is the equal treatment of every employee. Regarding time and attendance, your safest bet is to use software built precisely for that purpose. 

Timeero is a reliable partner for this endeavor. Here is a brief explanation of why:

  • Easy for your employees to use. All your employees need to do is download the Timeero mobile app on their phones to be able to clock in and out easily.

Timeero GPS TIme clock mobile preview
Timeero GPS time clock is a great way to track employee attendance.

The app will log their hours accurately, including any overtime. Time cards will automatically be created with all the needed information.

Timeero timesheet preview
Employee timecards are automatically created as soon as they clock in.

  • Kiosk app for multiple employees. Multiple employees can track time and attendance using Timeero’s Terminal Kiosk app, installed on an iPad device.


timeero facial recognition preview
Prevent buddy punching using the Facial Recognition feature.

Additionally, you can activate the Facial Recognition feature to prevent buddy punching and have the employees clock in with their selfies.

  • GPS to verify the whereabouts. If you need to manage employees working in multiple locations or track field employees, verifying their GPS location during their punches and working hours is a huge plus. 

Who’s working feature preview
See where your available employees are at any given time.

You can even combine it with geofencing to restrict employees from clocking in when offsite, from a cafe nearby, or during a commute. Or you can just let the app flag their timecards in such situations.

  • GPS to verify the routes. If your employees travel a lot during their working hours, Timeero tracks their rides so you can see whether they spend excessive time idling or driving during their travels.

timeero segmented tracking feature preview
Segmented tracking: See the entire employee’s workday at a glance.

  • Easy scheduling procedure. Using Timeero, you can easily create and edit jobs, assign them, and schedule them to your employees. Employees will immediately receive notifications about the new or changed shifts and view them in their schedule.

timeero scheduling feature preview
Easily create and edit shifts and let your employees know about the changes immediately.

When creating a shift, managers can also allow employees to accept or deny it, preventing scheduling conflicts.

timeero accept or deny shift preview
Let your employees accept or decline their shifts and prevent any potential scheduling problems.

Timeero has numerous safeguards against scheduling conflicts.


  • Straightforward time off procedures and tracking. Timeero makes the entire schedule request process smooth, fast, and centralized. 

timeero time off approval procedure preview
Easily approve or disapprove employee’s time off requests and let them know immediately.

When you define types of leave in the system, employees can request a day off right from the app, and managers can approve or deny it easily in the same way.

timeero time off request mobile preview
With Timeero, requesting time off couldn’t be easier.

  • Customizable settings. Timeero helps you stay compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Since labor laws vary from state to state, there are customizable settings for overtime or breaks.

timeero California breaks mobile preview
Californian employees can attest to their breaks using the Daily Sign-off form in the app.

With the most stringent rules, California has its overtime settings predefined in the app, and the California Breaks Tracker feature will help Golden State employers avoid penalties and lawsuits.

  • Alerts, notifications, and reminders. Timeero can help you make your employee attendance policy work for you in numerous ways. Besides all the above mentioned features, you can set up various alerts - for example, when an employee doesn’t clock in for their scheduled shift, punches out of the job site, or reaches the overtime threshold. 

timeero reminder settings preview
You can set various alerts, notifications, and reminders in the app.

Or, you can use geofencing and set up clock in/out notifications when an employee arrives or leaves the job site.

Employees can set their own clock-in and out reminders according to their schedules and working hours. 

  • Integrations for smooth payroll. All data Timeero captures can be easily shared with integrative software for seamless payroll and mileage reimbursement. You can say goodbye to manual data entry and human error; the system does everything.

timeero integrations preview
Use Timeero’s integrations to streamline the payroll and mileage reimbursement.

You can read our detailed Timeero review to learn about other great features besides attendance and time tracking that might benefit your business.

Grab Your Free Attendance Policy Template

To give you a headstart, we’ve created an employee attendance policy PDF file that you can download, print, and use as a guide. This document will help you create a policy that best suits your business needs in no time! ‍

Disclaimer: The purpose of this policy is to serve as a general guideline, so use it as a reference. It is not a legal document and may not take into account all relevant local, state, or federal laws. Before implementing it, consult your legal counsel and review this policy for compliance with applicable law on all levels. Neither the author nor Timeero will assume any legal liability that may arise from using this template. 

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