How to Create an Effective Absence Management System

An empty office.

One of the difficulties of managing a team is making sure you keep track of everyone’s time off so you know the output you can expect and can have other team members fill in if needed. Fortunately, you can use an absence management system to approve time off requests, view your team coverage, and more.

You can also use the software to track unexcused absences so you spot any absenteeism issues like getting to work late, leaving early, taking long breaks, or not showing up. If left unchecked, widespread absenteeism can lead to decreased profitability, morale, and retention.

Before choosing software, it’s important to set your paid time off (PTO) and attendance policies. (As with any HR policy, it’s beneficial to have an employment lawyer review them before you add them to your employee handbook.) After that, you’re ready to select software. Here’s how to set up your system.

Step 1: Create a PTO Policy

In the United States, there are no federal or state laws mandating that employers provide paid vacation days and there are no federal laws requiring paid sick leave. However, be sure to check your state and local laws. Regardless of the laws, many companies provide PTO to recruit and retain top talent.

Some companies have a set number of PTO days that employees can use for any reason, some designate a set number of vacation or sick days, and others offer unlimited PTO. Some companies offer the same number of days to all employees or a different amount based on tenure.

When you’re writing your policy, be sure to include how far in advance employees must request planned time off like vacations and the process for requesting it. You could also mention reasons why PTO might be denied.

You may want to give additional paid time off for bereavement, parental leave, and family emergencies. Consider noting that any leave approved under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and any other relevant federal, state, and local laws do not count as PTO days.

Step 2: Set an Attendance Policy

The next step to creating an absence management system is to make an attendance policy. Some companies track excused and unexcused absences. If you track excused and unexcused absences, specify what counts as each. For example, it may be an excused absence if it can count toward their remaining PTO, or if it was approved in advance.

Some companies count coming late, leaving early, or taking long breaks as absences or count multiple instances toward one absence. You may want to note the number of unexcused absences employees can have in a set time frame and the repercussions because it can be helpful if someone files a wrongful termination claim.

Step 3: Choose an Absence Management System

Now you’re ready to select software. There are several different software options. Here are some of the main features you may want to look for:

  • Employees can request time off and log sick days.
  • Employees can clock in and out and log hours, if necessary.
  • Managers can approve and deny time off requests.
  • Managers can log unexcused absences.
  • Managers and department heads can create shift schedules, if relevant.
  • Department heads and HR employees can see the team coverage to track trends.
  • HR employees can send reports to payroll if employees are paid hourly or receive overtime.
  • Managers and HR employees can check compliance laws.

Step 4: Reduce Absenteeism

If you notice that your team has high absenteeism rates, it can be helpful to implement flexible work arrangements such as:

  • Flextime. Employees set their own hours outside of the traditional 9-to-5 schedule.
  • Compressed work week. Employees work more hours a few days a week to hit 40 hours faster and take the remaining days off.
  • Remote work. Depending on your policy, employees work remotely whenever they want or a set number of days per week.
  • Part-time roles and shift work. Offering part-time roles and shift work can help you attract and retain people who want or need to work nontraditional hours, such as students and parents.

Continue to Learn HR Best Practices

Your absence management system can help you save time, stay organized, and monitor absenteeism. If absenteeism is an issue, the tips for reducing it can increase productivity, employee morale, and retention, making your business more successful. Keep on improving your business by implementing expert hiring and management advice from Monster.