How Points-Based No-Fault Work Attendance Systems Backfire

No-fault work attendance policies have been gaining popularity among small employers and global corporations alike. The janitorial and cleaning professions, among many others have frequently use these systems. However, that popularity has waned in the past few years.

Absenteeism presents a challenge for many employers, and it can be difficult to figure out how to address it. For example, it’s difficult to judge the merit of the reason for missing work, which leads to inconsistent application of the policy. And you can understand how that would be upsetting to employees.

Though you may be well-intended when using a no-fault attendance policy, you can easily violate employees’ civil rights.

How Civil Rights Violations Happen

Life gets outside your employees’ control sometimes. The plumber comes too late to fix a leaky pipe. A child gets sick and they can’t find a babysitter. Or their car suddenly breaks down, and they have to have it towed in and repaired.

Those situations do not put you at risk for civil rights violations (or eventually, lawsuits).

However, problems happen when employees get penalized for not attending work for reasons protected by civil law. This can happen because of pregnancy, childbirth, or due to a disability (the most common reasons violations happen).

For example, in 2011, Verizon had to shell out $20 million after the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the company did not make exceptions to its no-fault attendance policy for employees with disabilities.

How Do You Avoid Potentially Expensive, and Reputation-Damaging, Lawsuits?

The more employees you have, the more difficult it is to manage a “no-fault” attendance policy.

The trick is to have your supervisors and managers trained to understand civil rights law: what can they penalize employees for, and what can they not.

They then need to understand what questions to ask so they can document the proper reason for the missed absence.

Or, you could simply abandon the policy entirely, and simply focus on incentivizing positive behavior with rewards, rather than punishing undesirable behavior. Psychological studies have repeatedly proven the former always works more effectively when influencing human behavior.

Finally, you could also create a system for hiring employees who you can trust. Both of those are longer-term strategies, but they have a huge payoff.

Regardless, you’re at least aware of the issue and can identify the best solution for your company.

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