Prevention and Control of Absenteeism and Abuse of Leave in Community College Districts

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Abuse of leave and excessive absenteeism undermine employee morale, interrupt schedules, reduce productivity, and raise overtime costs.  A recent survey revealed that unscheduled absences cost employers an average of $610 a year per employee, totaling $60,000 for smaller employers to millions of dollars for larger employers. The costs to employers include:

  • Administrative costs associated with rescheduling or hiring staff
  • Extra payroll costs for temporary staff
  • Training costs associated with existing or temporary staff
  • Reduced productivity
  • Overtime and compensatory time
  • Insurance claims and legal fees
  • Cost of sick leave pay

In short, the cost of absenteeism to the public employer – and ultimately the public it serves – is considerable.  Fortunately, there are measures that public employers can take to reduce absenteeism.  Controlling absenteeism can be accomplished in three steps: establishing standards, communicating and implementing preventive strategies, and responding effectively.  This workbook is designed to help public employers proactively implement this three-step strategy.

Step 1:  Establish Standards

Before an employer can effectively curb absenteeism, it must first establish standards concerning attendance, absences, and leaves.  This requires an employer to examine workplace characteristics and needs that are unique to the employer.

Step 2:  Communicate and Implement

Once an employer establishes standards, it can implement proactive measures to prevent absenteeism from taking root.  This takes place through communication of the standards in both written and oral form and the implementation of best management practices that encourage good attendance.

Step 3:  Respond

When excessive or abusive absenteeism occurs, the employer must take action promptly.  This includes distinguishing between excess and abuse, identifying applicable statutory leave protections, if any, and determining the appropriate method of resolving the absenteeism problem.  If an absence is authorized by law, the employer must not penalize the employee.  Absences not authorized by law should be treated as a performance problem and progressive discipline may be appropriate.

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