Employee Time-Off Policy

Do you have an employee who is constantly calling out "sick" or taking excessive amounts of time off?  While many employee absences are legitimate, recurring unscheduled absenteeism can really disrupt a business – especially if the employee is taking paid time off.

Your first instinct might be to discipline the employee, accuse them of taking advantage, or even threaten to fire them. But if their reason for missing work qualifies as a legally protected absence, you could land yourself in hot water.

What to include in your policy

  • Employee work hours: Define the expected business hours and number of hours worked per week, as well as a clock-in/out procedure to make sure employees are meeting those requirements.
  • Available paid and unpaid leave: Aside from regular paid time off (including sick days, personal days and vacation days), list out paid (or unpaid) holidays, leave periods (e.g., bereavement or jury duty), and federally protected absences like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and disability leave.  "Write a clear description of what paid and unpaid leave is available for employees, including when and how they qualify for leave and how much leave they accrue each week, pay period, month or year," said Jaime Lizotte, HR solutions manager at ComplyRight.
  • Calling-in procedure: What is the procedure for calling in sick or notifying the company when an employee won't be in? Should someone be notified if an employee will be late? Are employees responsible for finding a replacement for unscheduled time off?  "Be sure to explain the policy for requesting leave, including any deadlines for vacation request and blackout periods," Lizotte told Business News Daily.  Your policy should be shared among all employees, supervisors and managers. Additionally, executives should be trained on how to apply it fairly, according to HRhero.
  • Consequences for violations: The last part of your policy should spell out the repercussions if an employee does not follow the policy.   "Write down the steps that will be taken for various infractions, to protect your business from charges of favoritism or discrimination down the line," said Lizotte.

Tricia Meyer, founder and managing attorney at Meyer Law, noted that it's important for employers to understand federal or state laws regarding employee leave so they aren't creating illegal policies or making unfair demands of their workers.


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