Attendance issues.

We’ve all struggled with showing up to work on time here and there. Some of us are probably habitually late more often than we would like. Regardless of the situation, attendance at any job is necessary for operations to continue without interruption. Attendance was the number one reason for employees losing employment as I worked at my last job. It’s hard for me to understand how one wants a job and can’t get to work on time.
But before I stereotype those who are habitually late, I’m also a very understanding person when it comes to attendance. If you work in Baton Rouge, it is near impossible to get anywhere on time unless you leave with a large amount of cushion. I commuted to Baton Rouge for 5 years and was only late on the days when there was a three hour accident. I spent many of those days in my car wondering why I had to experience this with everybody else. I was lucky to work for a flexible company which understood how traffic was out of my control.
I recommend all managers and supervisors to be very understanding and reasonable with time and attendance. Some individuals may have reasonable situations which prevent them from getting to work on time. For a person to just write someone up for being late/tardy without hearing the persons excuse is just insane to me. I like my managers and supervisors to give verbal warnings and or work with the employee to adjust their schedule to accommodate the lateness issue. Sometimes, a simple adjustment can make for a loyal and on-time employee.
I tell managers and supervisors how a person who says their tire blew out on the interstate, their child got sick, their car would not start, or they got stuck in really bad traffic (etc.), this would usually fly as a reasonable excuse the first go around. A reasonable employee would reach out to their manager or supervisor and let them know they will be late because of the situation. I believe an employee who discloses their excuse ahead of time in a reasonable fashion should not be counted tardy unless the same excuse comes up more than once in one week. If a person says they have a blow-out or engine trouble more than once a week may need to be told to get their car looked at or find a way to get to work on time.
I know if my car would not start, I would have a 40+ mile drive ahead of me with nobody to pick me up or take me there. It’s difficult for some individuals to get to work, but I would find a way because I care about being at work. Not everyone feels the same about being conscientious about showing up to work, and will take their personal lives first before coming to work. I never struggled to have the conversation with the individual who had issues showing up to work on time. I had an employee once ask me if should they choose their job over their child; I would simply answer their question by saying it is important for them to care for their child, but I was not going to make the decision for them.
I scheduled a meeting with an employee who was chronically late to work all the time. I had suspended her since she could not show up to work on time. I chuckled to myself because she was 30 minutes late to the meeting. I sat her down and asked her if she wanted to keep her employment, she needed to be more conscientious about time and get to work on time. I left my employer prior to seeing if she actually started showing up on time, but it appeared she was there before I left. Sometimes a simple conversation with an employee can clear up any mess and potentially gain their loyalty.
Mind you, there are potentially some issues which can arise from a person being late. Some of those reasons extend to something of a personal nature like a disability or a family member’s disability. The ADA is nothing to play with either, especially in this litigation filled environment we’re in today. I would proceed with caution when asking an employee about what is causing them to be late like, “Susie, can you help me understand what it is which is making you late everyday for work? If it is a health related issue, please just tell me a “health related issue” and not the specifics of the health issue.” This I feel gets down to the bottom of the issue by focusing on what is causing the person to be chronically late. If it is health related, the conversation will then need to shift to FMLA or intermittent FMLA. The employee should be directed to the LOA department to discuss procedures which need to be followed in order to start the process.
In a lot of the cases I handled, many of the individuals could not get to work on time even after being written up. A lot of them continued down the path they were on until myself and the company decided to terminate their employment. Some employees would start working at the facility and not show up for 3 consecutive days. That resulted in a no-call, no-show termination. It would baffle me how employees would do this so often without letting us know they were not coming back. If the employee would call us and say they were not coming back, I would simply ask them to email me a letter of immediate resignation so I could move forward with removing them from the system.
I understand many people have things going on in their lives which prevent them from getting to work on time; however, it is important to be conscientious about time if you want to keep your job. Being late or not showing up will eventually result in disciplinary action up to including discharge. Firing someone who did not file FMLA and continued to not show up to work on time (or at all) after being advised so was always difficult. It was necessary and it was something we needed to do to keep operations where they needed to be. Running any business requires regular attendance from all employees, too many absences/tardies will usually result in incremental overtime as well as delay in processes.
When interviewing with a company here in Hammond, LA; they asked me if I had any illnesses or disabilities which would prevent me from having regular attendance. I was completely baffled they asked me this as it was an illegal question to ask anyone. It violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it is trying to impede on information about a disability. When I informed the young lady interviewing me to please not ask the question to anyone else in the future, she had the wit to say they had to because their jobs require regular attendance. I chuckled for a quick second and told her how all jobs require regular attendance; however, it does not mean a company should inquire about someones disability illegally in the form of questions in the interview. Needless to say, I did not get the job and am happy I did not because I would never ask the question to someone in an interview.

What types of issues are you experiencing in your business? Do you believe attendance impedes your ability to operation 100%? What measures can you take to make your business better with attendance? I have a few solutions and can gladly offer those to you if you ask. Thanks for reading!


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