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How to Implement an Attendance Point System for Your Small Business

Attendance Point System
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What is an Attendance Point System?

An attendance point system helps employers track attendance for their employees. Points are compiled when an employee is late, tardy, or absent. After collecting a number of points, usually within a 12-month period, an employee may be subjected to discipline, up to and including termination. You may have stricter guidelines set up for newer employees. 

As a small business owner, you may find you don’t need an attendance policy. However, if you start with one, it may prevent problems down the line. As your business grows, it may be vital to help you determine how many to hire and how many to schedule for work. 

It is important to think about why employees are missing work. Determine how you can prevent them from missing too much work. When thinking about whether you should implement a policy, also consider the costs of high absenteeism. Consider tracking direct and indirect costs to determine how much your business is paying for absenteeism. 

For example, do others work overtime, or do you have to hire additional workers? How does it affect productivity? When your good employees are having to work overtime for those that miss a lot, how does that hurt your business? Overworked employees may become less engaged. Also, can you change your methods to hire better workers who show up?

How Do You Create an Attendance Point System?

  • Evaluate your culture and needs. Why do you need an attendance policy? How will your current employees respond to a new policy? Are you thinking about implementing a policy to prevent issues or are you implementing a policy because there is an issue?
  • Ensure you have the proper systems in place to track attendance. Point systems can be automated with the right attendance and time clock software. Consider investing in a time clock app like ezClocker. The ezClocker time clock app is simple, easy to use, and affordable. This scheduling and time-tracking app allows workers to use their own mobile devices to clock in or out. A GPS time stamp is also recorded. This allows you to verify that your employees clocked in and out at the right locations. This is a great feature if you have workers who go to different job sites like landscapers and janitorial staff. 
  • How will you keep up with points that occurred? You want to ensure that you have systems in place that provide correct information and leave little room for error. 
  • Train your managers first and make sure they will follow it. You want to ensure all of your employees are treated fairly and equally. 

How Does it Work?

There are several examples online of policies you can review and modify to make your own.  You should make sure that once you write any policy you communicate the new policy and answer any questions your employees may have. Furthermore, explain why you are implementing your new policy. 

It is also important to define and explain in your policy:

  • Your expectations
  • What counts as an absence, lateness, or a tardy?
  • Can they have excused absences, and does it count as a point?
  • Can they leave early?
  • What documentation is needed for an excused absence?
  • What disciplinary action will occur?
  • How many days do they need to miss and not call before considering it a resignation or termination?

Also, if your point system will be on a 12-month rolling system, you should explain that in your policy. How many absences can a new employee have in their first 90 days? 

What about no-show employees? How will you handle those issues? Ensure your no-show policy is tied to your attendance policy. Your policy should clearly state when they will receive a verbal, written, and final written notice. You should also make sure you have a good system to document absences. 

Unplanned absences can hurt your small business. For example, if you own a janitorial company and you have someone no-show without warning you may find yourself placing people in different locations. Furthermore, you may have to notify the client your staff can’t make it that day to clean. 

When that happens, your business will start falling behind and then you may find yourself trying to catch up. You then become unreliable to your clients. Unplanned absences can hurt a small business. It can hurt your small business’s reputation when people miss work. 

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How Many Absences are Considered Excessive?

Each business is different regarding how many absences are excessive. You should write your policies to ensure you cover each issue. For example, are you going to allow excused and unexcused absences? Will you implement a no-fault policy?

No-Fault Attendance Policy

A no-fault policy counts points regardless of the reasons missed except vacation or paid holidays. However, it can be risky if the reasons are protected by law. Your attendance policy should be written based on your needs. 

Amazon has a no-fault attendance policy. It has been controversial for some lawmakers.

Employees who don’t report absences at least 16 hours before the start of their shift receive two points on their record. If they give notice less than two hours before a shift, they receive two points and an “absence submission infraction”. If workers receive three absence submission infractions and eight attendance points, Amazon will consider termination. However, points expire two months after the date they are given. Companies with “no-fault” attendance policies have run into legal issues (i.e., Verizon), so it is important that you don’t violate any Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or disability laws. 

What Works for Your Small Business?

As an employer, think about what types of absences are excessive for your small business. If you have someone call in every week, that may be excessive. Implementing an attendance policy can help you prevent absenteeism, and it can also be a point of discussion between you and new recruits. If an employee has a long-term sickness but you don’t offer FMLA, what will you do? Brainstorm along with your management team any issue that could arise and ensure your policies address those situations. 

You want to create a policy that helps your business but doesn’t cause employees to quit. 

The Department of Labor (DOL) estimated that approximately 3.5 percent of the workforce was absent from work. You don’t want to seem unreasonable as people are going to have a sickness, childcare issues, etc. But what is too much? 

Is an Attendance Point System Legal?

You should ensure you research your local, state, and federal laws. There are several federal laws to consider. If you have 50 or more employees, you will need to make sure you are in compliance with the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you have 15 or more employees, you will need to make sure you comply with the American Disabilities Act and The ADA Amendments Act of 2008

There may be other state and local laws to take into consideration. 

Also, you want to validate that your decisions are ethical. You don’t want to develop a bad reputation for terminating people easily because of a couple of absences. 

Examples of Companies Who Use an Attendance Point System

Many large companies use an Attendance Point System. Companies such as Tesla, Whole Foods, Amazon, Walmart, and Brunswick use an attendance point system. 

Likewise, an attendance point system helps small businesses too. For example, if you have a service business like a janitorial business, implementing a point system will ensure your employees show up for your customers. If they do call-in that day, you have to determine if you need to reschedule. Implementing a point system can prevent those missing work for small issues. 

Final Thoughts on an Attendance Point System

Once you implement your point system, you will be able to see where you have problems. You can also adjust it in time. Your attendance point system can help you track and keep a history of each employee. This can also help you when talking to them during performance reviews

Furthermore, think about rewarding good attendance. This can help motivate employees as well. Also, consider implementing a point-based system for perfect attendance. This system will let them earn rewards based on how many months of perfect attendance they have. 

Always ensure your employees have access to their information so they can track their absenteeism. Consider investing in a good scheduling system like ezClocker to track time, create schedules, and enter notes regarding absences. Ensure all employees are treated equally and your policies are communicated clearly. If you give exceptions to any policy, you should also make sure you document those. 

Finally, when hiring you should state your expectations to your new hires. They should know how absenteeism will hurt your business. Good team members want to help a small business. They also want to work with good team members. Ensure you hire top-notch workers. If you find yourself with a bad worker who misses a lot of work, make sure you have a good attendance policy to help with discipline and termination. 


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.

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