Is an attendance policy required to be issued? If so, what should it contain? How can you tell if it is a good policy in the first place? We tackle questions in today's article.

Attendance is one of the most challenging aspects of running a team. As much as possible, you want your employees to be on their toes and present at work to do the work. However, we all recognize that life sometimes gets in the way. There are emergencies, family gatherings and vacations that we take. Your company should set the boundaries when it comes to taking time off work to accommodate these.

Is this Policy Required?

Let's answer the question first… are you required by law to have an Attendance Policy in place? Not directly. The law states that an employee is entitled to at least 5 days of Service Incentive Leave after they work at least a year with you. That means that yes, employees can avail of the leaves. It then follows that you need to set guidelines on how these leaves can be availed.

What's the alternative if you don't put a policy in place? People not showing up for work "just because they felt like it"? That would be madness. You can't have that. What if there is a looming deadline, and your employee suddenly decides to stay the day because it was "bed weather". Since they have Service incentive leaves under the law, that leave then becomes a gray area. Yes, there is an entitlement, but you never specified how they should avail of them.

On the other side of the coin, if you don't have policies in place, giving an employee the day off may look as if you are favoring them over others who have to stay at work. Envious employees may conclude that you gave the day off "because that is your favorite employee." You need objective standards to show them that you treat them all the same way.

So it appears that the sane way to run a business is to set guidelines on how leaves should be availed of. What's the legal basis for setting these rules? You should go and read our article on managment prerogative to set things straight.

Putting the right rules helps everyone

When you put proper boundaries in place, your team would know how to act and comply with your expectations. You are teaching them what constitutes proper behavior within your workplace and instructing them on the proper way to avail of benefits given by the law.

When expectations are set properly, you now have the proper basis to discipline them if they stray beyond the lines. You also have basis to grant their requests if they follow the procedures without fear of looking as if you are favoring them over other employees. You're able to point at an objective standard to protect you from any skewed perceptions from subordinates.

If their attendance request is denied, "Oh, you think that I am being hard on you? Did you apply for a leave in compliance with the policy? No? That's why it was denied. Hindi ka pinag-iinitan."

If an employee complains that another person got a leave and they didn't, you can say "Can you ask your workmate if they applied for a leave in accordance with the policy? Yes? See? That's why his leave was granted. Please don't conclude that they are being favored over you. They merely followed the guidelines. You should too."

Having these policies will make running your team easier. I guarantee it.

What constitutes a good attendance policy

I'm happy you asked. A good attendance policy will answer 3 basic questions.

First, it should answer what kinds of leaves are available.

The nature of the leave is important. Are there only SIL leaves? Are there vacation leaves? Sick leaves? Bereavement leaves? What things are available. Each kind of leave should have a corresponding policy. Or they can be bunched together in a single policy, with each leave being described separately.

Why is this important? So that the employee would be able to know by themselves what leave to apply for. Once that is clear in their heads, they can proceed to the next question which is…

How to avail of these leaves?

Your policy should be able to guide the employe on the step by step procedure they should take to apply for the chosen leave. The name of the game here is SPECIFICITY. There should be no doubt as to the exact steps you want the employee to take if they want to apply for leaves.

  • You want them to fill out a form? Which form? Where do they get it from?
  • You want them to apply for the leave in advance? How advance? Are we talking hours ahead? Days? If so, how many is sufficient notice for you?
  • Where do they get permission from? Is it from their immediate supervisor? Is it from HR? Where?
  • How is the permission given? Verbally? Written? Is the permission supposed to be reflected in the form? How?

As you can see, the policy's purpose is to answer as many questions that may arise so you don't have to. Make it work for you by being as specific as possible.

Finally, how many of these do they get?

Your policy should also be able to allow employees to tell if they are still entitled to these leaves. You should set limits on how many these leaves are.

My tip, it can be whatever limit you wish. The only requirement is that you don't go below the minimum presribed by law which is 5 days SIL.

Bonus benefit: makes it easy to determine if an employee is AWOL

There's an added benefit for having a good attendance policy in place. If there's a missing employee, the first thing you do is check if they complied with the policy. If they didn't comply with the policy, then it may be grounds for an AWOL Violation.

The implication is that without the policy in place, it would be difficult to pinpoint when an employee is absent without official leave because you never defined what taking an official leave looks like. Get it? No standards mean it would be difficult to point out the boundaries which were transgressed (note: difficult but not impossible).


So there you have it. Here's what we learned in this article:

  • It's a good idea to have an attendance policy in place
  • Great attendance policies answer 3 basic questions
  • Attendance policies also help out with AWOL cases because they define boundaries for employee behavior.

If you need assistance with AWOL matters by the way, we have a free AWOL Primer available. It contains 3 videos which should help you manage AWOL cases. It's available by signing up here.

Now that we've simplified this for you, go out and make better choices.

AWOL 3-Part Mini Video Course