What can I do to avoid leave problems?

General Guidance

  1. Expectations The most important step you can take is to clearly communicate your expectations to staff. Supervisors must clearly communicate to employees that they are expected to be at their workstation, ready to work, at the beginning of their assigned shift. Employees also need to know that they need to maintain regular and predictable attendance; that they need to return from breaks in a timely manner; and that they need to follow procedures for requesting and obtaining approval for time off in accordance with department procedures.

These expectations should be in writing either in the employee’s performance standards or in a separate list of administrative expectations. The expectation should clearly state that instances of tardiness may result in the time being charged to accrued leave, leave without pay, or absence without leave, depending on the circumstances.

Supervisors should reinforce this written expectation through oral discussions with new employees in the first few days of employment, and in group discussions with all employees annually.

  1. Modeling Managers and supervisors must serve as positive role models in all areas of attendance.
  2. Recording Tardiness on TimecardsAs mentioned above, the initial instance of tardiness, or infrequent instances of tardiness which do not impact service delivery or coworkers, can be addressed by letting the employee make up the time and need not be recorded on the timecard. More frequent instances of tardiness, or tardiness which affects customers or coworkers, should be charged to accrued leave, leave without pay, or absence without leave.
  3. Tardiness of Less than Six Minutes The County’s payroll system (ATKS) computes payroll in increments of six minutes (1.9 hours, 2.0 hours, 2.1 hours, etc.), with 0.1 hours equaling six minutes. This being the case, some employees will assert that leave cannot be charged for a tardiness that is under six minutes. This is not true. Once an employee has been counseled and advised that future tardiness will result in charges to their leave balance or absence without pay, a sub-six minute tardiness may be recorded on the timecard by having the employee not begin work until the next six-minute increment of time has started.

For example, if an employee’s shift begins at 8:00 a.m. and he/she arrives to work late, at 8:03, the supervisor can direct the employee to not start performing his/her work duties until 8:06, and charge 0.1 hours of leave/absence without pay in ATKS.

In setting and communicating leave expectations, you need to be prepared to answer the following:

Tardiness

  • Everyone is late occasionally – how often is too often? Is it OK to be late once a week, once a month, once a quarter?
  • What happens if I’m a few minutes late? At what point does a “few minutes” become a problem?
  • If I am late, how do I code my timecard?
  • Can I skip a break or take a shorter lunch to make up a fifteen-minute tardy? Can I make it up at the end of the day? Do I have to use vacation time?
  • At what point do you charge a tardy as Absence without Leave (AWOL)?
  • If I call the Lead or leave a message before work starts, does that count as approval?

Sick Leave

  • How many sick leave days are considered “excessive”?
  • Do 10 one-day instances of the flu or a cold count the same as a two-week absence for an illness?
  • Am I expected to schedule medical/dental appointments for days off or after hours? If I’m on a 9/80 or 4/10 schedule am I supposed to have appointments on my off day?
  • If I wake up and am too sick to come to work, by what time am I expected to call in? Who should I call? Is it acceptable to leave a message on voice mail? If I leave a message, do I have to leave a number where I can be reached if necessary?
  • When do I have to submit a physician’s statement?

Vacation

  • How far in advance do you expect me to request vacation time off? Is this expectation the same for a two-week vacation as for one day off?
  • How many employees can be off on the same day?
  • Do I have to put requests for days off in writing?
  • Who can approve my request?

Once you have asked yourself these questions and formulated your answers, you should discuss the matter with your manager and with Employee & Labor Relations to ensure that your expectations are reasonable and in conformance with any pertinent MOUs, department or County policies and state and federal law. You can then reduce the expectations to writing to present to and discuss with staff.