Points-Based Attendance Policy – how to customize for your company

A points-based attendance policy allows for the occasional emergency but still keeps productivity (and your bottom line) front-and-center.



Tardiness and absenteeism in the workplace negatively impact morale and productivity. What can you do to curb the problem? Try a points-based attendance policy that allows for the occasional emergency but still keeps productivity (and your bottom line) front-and-center.

How a points-based attendance policy works

Generally speaking, a points-based attendance policy works like a points-based driving system, where you receive points for each infraction. In other words, points are bad (think golf). If you clock in late or leave early, you are given points depending on how late or early your time punches are. If you miss several hours of work, you’re assigned points. If you miss an entire day of work, you accumulate more points. You can call your supervisor ahead of time to let them know you’ll be late (or gone) to get fewer points than a no-call, no-show, but you’ll still be given points depending on the situation and how far in advance you notify them.

After racking up a certain number of points, you are subject to discipline, up to and including termination. New hires may be more tightly disciplined (i.e. they may be terminated for fewer points than employees who have worked for the company longer) and points may fall off an employee’s record after several months of perfect attendance. It’s all a matter of how a company sets up the points-based parameters.

Can different departments have different attendance policies?

Absolutely! Some departments have more stringent attendance needs than others, such as shift work or waiting on customers. Managers can help set up a system based on their attendance needs to develop an appropriate points-based attendance policy for their department. Before rolling out the new system, employees should be instructed on why attendance is important to the organization/department and how it impacts both the business and coworkers when they’re late. For example: Where will customers have to wait? Will it push production back? What’s the effect on the rest of the team? How will this affect your company’s reputation and bottom line? The clearer the explanation, the better they’ll understand the importance of being punctual.

Should we ask for doctor’s notes to qualify an absence?

Your attendance policy is completely based on your company’s needs. If you need to reign in “medically-necessary” absences or tardies, you can certainly request a doctor’s note. Perhaps you may consider a policy that requires a doctor’s note for any illnesses that extend beyond an employee’s paid sick leave or a certain amount of days within a specified timeframe. If your company has 50+ employees, you may want to highlight when the clock starts ticking for FMLA time. Simply outline the criteria in your attendance policy.

How do we make a points-based attendance policy more positive?

Positive rewards have been shown to be much more effective at motivating good behavior than negative awards are at preventing bad behavior. So how can you flip a negative to a positive? Reward employees for good attendance! Create a points-based system for perfect attendance where employees are recognized for their zero unauthorized absences and/or tardies. Perhaps employees can be promoted from a disciplinary-based system to a rewards-based system after so many months of perfect attendance. Have perfect attendance milestones broken down for employees to earn rewards. Make a big deal about them, emphasize the significance each employee’s perfect attendance has played for your company, talk about who’s on track for earning the next big reward for perfect attendance at company meetings, post about it on internal forums and company boards. Positive peer pressure is powerful, but it takes effort to create a company culture!

Developing an attendance policy isn’t just for companies with an absence/tardy problem; it’s beneficial for all companies. As with any policy, a defined attendance policy outlines expectations for employees and provides guidelines for managers to follow, which may help avoid a future lawsuit if employees aren’t treated the same way in similar situations. For questions or to get a basic points-based attendance policy set up for your company, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.

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