Managing Absenteeism

Absenteeism costs Canadian employers over $16.6 billion per year. Add into this, productivity losses and other indirect costs, and that number actually increases to $37 billion.*

Employee absenteeism is a costly and disruptive problem to any organization. To ensure that a company is successful, it relies on its employees to be punctual, present and actively engaged. Employees should be held accountable for their attendance habits; however the employer does have an obligation to determine culpable and non-culpable absenteeism, and to deal with each type appropriately, providing accommodation for non-culpable absences where applicable.

What is the difference? A culpable absence is an absence that occurs as a result of factors within the employee’s control. For example, arriving late without an excuse, failing to notify a supervisor of an absence, or leaving early without notifying a manager. A non-culpable absence is an absence due to factors where the employee has little or no control. Examples of this are physical or mental illness, family responsibilities for which accommodation is required under the human rights act, or sick leave where proper notification has been provided.

So, how does an employer manage absenteeism in order to remain a successfully operating organization? The best way is to establish a policy that sets clear expectations around attendance requirements as well as the process for managing employees that fail to meet these requirements. Along with this, an employer can also implement an Attendance Management Program (AMP).

The purpose of an AMP is to set out the employer’s expectations for consistent and regular attendance, distinguish between culpable and non-culpable absences, provide a process for reporting absences, offer a means of assisting employees to achieve an acceptable level of attendance, and illustrate disciplinary action should an acceptable level not be reached.

Employers cannot adopt one approach for all cases of absenteeism. They can reasonably expect that every employee will fulfill their duties as an employee; however there are always circumstances that will prevent employees from showing up to work on time, every time. This is where it becomes the duty of the employer to deal with these situations on a case by case basis. There is no common solution to remedy all instances of absenteeism, but there are solutions available. Talk to your Human Resources Advisor to start developing a policy!



Renee Lastella / Human Resources Advisor / PEO Canada

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