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Ask Cari: I Have a Problem with Employees Missing Shifts. Should I address this in my Employment Handbook?

I always tell my business clients that having an employee handbook is imperative.  It is, essentially, the laws of the employment relationship.  It can be as detailed as the employer would like and can cover anything that might arise affecting the employer/employee relationship.  While many state and federal laws govern certain aspects of the employer/employee relationship, a lot is left to the decision of the individual business.

One issue that comes up frequently, is an employee missing shifts and not calling in to notify the employer he or she will be absent.  This causes a major problem for obvious reasons such as not having enough coverage on a shift, deterioration of the trust between employer and employee, and overall reliability of the employee to perform job duties.

In an employee handbook, the employer can provide that non-compliance with the policies can result in job abandonment or voluntary resignation, which has the consequence of the ex-employee not being eligible for unemployment benefits.  This is usually a deterrent to missing shifts without an excused absence.

I personally recommend that the handbook contain a section on “Discipline.”  This title conspicuously notifies the employees that there are consequences for certain actions.  With regard to not showing up for a shift, the handbook should contain a provision that plainly states that “excessive tardiness or absenteeism may result in immediate termination.”

Similarly, a section on “Attendance, Punctuality and Dependability” might be appropriate, especially if your business deals with working with children, elderly, or animals who might have a personal connection with an employee.

What happens once an employee is terminated per the terms of the handbook you might ask? Well, these policies discussed above help to deal with any unemployment issues that may arise as a result of termination for absenteeism or tardiness.  In the end of an employer/employee relationship, a letter should be sent to the ex-employee acknowledging their resignation/job abandonment per the handbook.


"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."

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