Tips to Help you Create a Time & Attendance Policy For Your Business

Absenteeism in the workplace is a real issue and can have serious monetary and productivity effects on your business if not tackled. A time & attendance policy, which is a set of rules and guidelines that defines employees’ responsibility concerning work time and attendance, is imperative for running your business successfully. It often includes clear and consistent expectations for employees regarding clock-in and clock-out times, tardiness, and absenteeism and how violations will be handled or otherwise disciplined by the company.

If you’re a small business owner, an attendance policy might seem unnecessary; shouldn’t everyone be aware of their responsibilities? Absolutely, but having an attendance policy keeps everyone on the same page, supports a professional work environment, levels the playing field for all employees, encourages productivity, and can protect you and your business from possible litigation, among other benefits. Even if attendance isn’t a current issue in your company, such a policy will improve communication with your employees and keep your business organized.

Now that you know why you need an attendance policy, here are some tips to help you create the perfect one for your workplace:

Study the Impact of Absenteeism on Your Business

The first step to creating the perfect attendance policy is gathering past attendance data and studying how different absences have affected your business’s performance. Determine whether your company’s current absenteeism rate is above or below average and decide how to address your findings with the new policy.

Examine Your Current Work Culture

Your employees’ attendance is part of your company culture. This includes your preferred way of working, beliefs, overall values like the importance of punctuality, what constitutes zero tolerances, cultural factors like family-first priorities, shared expectations, and so on. By defining the kind of work culture you want, you will create an attendance policy that reflects that. Be sure to talk with your shift leaders and managers about their expectations for employee attendance and how they’re currently dealing with absenteeism, and then find common grounds to make a business-wide policy so you don’t send mixed messages.

Define Work Hours

How many days of the week should your employees be at work, should they clock in and out, are there a specific number of hours they should be working? By laying out a basic attendance policy, employees will know what kind of attendance is expected from them during a typical workweek. This is particularly essential in this age of remote working as it outlines when employees should be online and for how long.

Create Relevant Definitions

Clearly explain each term used in the policy to avoid any possible confusion or employees claiming that they didn’t know. Start by defining the following terms with regards to your business’s situation:

  • Tardiness
  • Absenteeism
  • Approved vs unexcused absence
  • Exempt and non-exempt employees
  • Sick day vs personal leave
  • FMLA protected leave

Consult With Your Employees

The perfect attendance policy feels like a team effort. Once you’ve put together your first draft, set a meeting with your employees to discuss any concerns and possible adjustments. Does the policy seem fair, realistic, and objective? Incorporating employee feedback into the policy will increase its chances of success.

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Include Realistic Disciplinary Actions

Clearly state what happens if an employee violates the time & attendance policy. Your disciplinary actions should be impartial, fair, and applied even-handedly across the workforce. Keep in mind that employees can be late or absent for one reason or the other; therefore, enacting a zero-tolerance attendance policy will only lead to high turnover, which will also be costly to your business. The best cause of action is to match disciplinary actions to how each scenario affects productivity.

Comply With Employment Laws

Different regions have different employment laws that employers must comply with, and they’re often related to:

  • Paid sick leave
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), etc

It’s important to review your attendance policy and ensure it adheres to all national, state, and local employment laws and regulations. Failure to do so will expose you and your business to all kinds of legal liabilities.


Your time & attendance policy is only as good as your implementation of it. If there are any violations, enforce the consequences fairly and consistently among all employees. That being said, it’s important to remember that your employees are human. Having an empathetic outlook when creating and enforcing attendance policy will encourage fairness, thus creating a timekeeping system that works for everyone.

At ASAP Payroll, we help small businesses navigate issues relating to time and attendance, payroll, paying and filing taxes, human resource management, and more. We will provide you with a customized solution that best suits your business’s needs. Contact us today for a free quote and remember to sign up for our newsletter to get information and insights that will help you achieve maximum productivity and ROI.

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