Regular attendance is an essential job function. After all, most employees must be present at their regular jobsite on a regularly scheduled, predictable basis in order to effectively do their jobs.
Of course, there are certainly many legitimate reasons why employees cannot, and even should not, be at work every day. Left unchecked, however, absenteeism can cost employers dearly, while also creating morale issues with other workers.
To help balance and identify legitimate absences vs. absenteeism, employers should have a policy that addresses all the various issues surrounding employee attendance, including lateness, sickness, available time to take care of personal business, family and medical leave, and disability concerns.
A key part of an effective attendance policy is setting objective criteria for when absenteeism becomes excessive, requiring disciplinary intervention. It is also critical to ensure the attendance policy is clearly and effectively communicated to employees. Solutions for improving attendance include compressed workweeks, flextime, job sharing, rewards, telecommuting, and constructive discipline, up to and including termination.