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How to Write an Attendance Policy for Your Small Business

how to write an employee time attendance policy
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Implementing an attendance policy may be necessary for your business.  You may have noticed increased absences, or you are writing a new employee handbook

You should include the following in your attendance policy:

  • Your expectations
  • How you will track attendance (how to clock in and out)
  • Absences which will be excused or not excused
  • Documentation needed
  • Disciplinary action

A good attendance policy should be strict enough for the employer to discipline those with issues. It should be flexible enough, so you don’t lose your best employees who rarely miss work. 


Top Reasons for an Attendance Policy

Cost Cutting

Install an attendance policy to help cut down costs for those missing work. 

Increased Communication

An attendance policy requires communication between a staff member and their manager.  

The manager may need advanced notice to schedule their team. They need to know if the team member is going to be late or absent. This helps the manager make adjustments to their schedule and their team. 

Managing Offsite Workers

If you have workers scheduled in varying locations, you may need an attendance policy. For example, if you are a landscaper you may have teams on different job sites. You need to ensure they arrive on time as stated to the client. Absent and late workers can cost you money (and clients). Also, you need to know who you can rely on so you can send those workers to your best clients. 

Ensures Fairness

Your attendance policy can also help ensure no one is receiving preferential treatment.  Also, employees who don’t miss work get frustrated with their team members who are missing work. They may have to take on extra duties due to their team members absences. Implementing a policy can ensure fairness and also helps morale for those that show up. 


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Disadvantages of Attendance Policy

What are some disadvantages of an attendance policy? 

Enforcing the Policy

Enforcing an attendance policy can be difficult if you don’t create the right policy for your team. You should research and think about every situation. For example, are you prepared to let go a great worker if they are missing a lot of work? What if their issue is only temporary like they have a childcare issue, or they are going through a divorce? 

Monitoring Offsite Workers

Monitoring offsite workers can be difficult if you don’t have the right systems in place. 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 employees 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 of the right locations.

Not Knowing Your Federal and State Laws

Ensure you know your federal and state laws as well. You should take these into consideration when writing your attendance policy. For example, if you have fifty or more employees, you will need to follow the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. If you have fifteen or more employees, you will need to ensure you follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). It is important to know how these laws (and any other federal and state laws) can affect your business and your policies. 

[Learn What Are The Time Clock Rules for Hourly Employees]

Attendance Policy Sample

This policy is an example attendance policy for a small business. 


Timely and regular attendance is an expectation of performance for all employees. Team members will be held accountable for adhering to their workplace schedule. 

This ensures adequate staffing and the ability to meet expected productivity standards throughout the company.

Employees must get approval from their manager in advance of any time off requests. This approval includes late arrivals or early departures from work.


Ensure you find out from your manager the best way to notify them if you are going to be absent or late to work. Voice mail, text, and e-mail messages are generally not acceptable. Your manager must be contacted (via phone call) as soon as possible. 

Point System

The company uses a point system for monitoring attendance for unexcused absences. 

  • Tardiness is .5 point. Tardiness is if you are more than 15 minutes late, leave work early, or if you take an extended break or meal time.  
  • Missed punches are .5 point.
  • Absence is 1 point 
  • No show or no call for three or more days is a voluntary resignation

Disciplinary Action

The following point system is in a rolling 12-month period. 

Excessive absenteeism or tardiness will result in employee discipline up to and including termination. 

6 points = Verbal Warning

9 points = Written Warning

12 points = Final Written Warning

15 points = Termination

Clocking In and Out

You should ensure you clock in and out on the company’s time keeping system (e.g. ezClocker). Notify your supervisor immediately if you should have problems clocking in or out. 

Excused Absences:

  • Missing work due to a work-related injury with medical verification that the employee is unable to work.
  • Absences due to jury duty, military leave, authorized medical leave, lack of work, subpoenas, or any other absence expressly authorized by the company.
  • Tardiness or missing work because of adverse weather conditions that causes closed roads in this county.   
  • Authorized vacation time.

Final Note on Creating an Attendance Policy

Ensure you explain the new policy to all members of the staff. You should allow questions from your team. Explain to them why it is important to the business. Good employees understand why you need policies. Once you roll out a policy, ensure your managers enforce it. 



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.