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What is Absenteeism?

What is absenteeism? Absenteeism is a frequent pattern in which an employee is habitually absent from work.

Chronic Absenteeism From Work

Chronic absenteeism is often an indicator of poor employee performance, poor morale, workplace hazards, a medical condition, or psychological problems. Some causes can include harassment, heavy workload, bullying, depression, lack of commitment, illness, injuries, job searching, and family care.

Occasional Absences

Absenteeism does not include occasional excused absences such as unexpected health or personal issues. Absenteeism can be a violation of an employer’s contract and may lead to job termination.

Most employers provide a certain number of days in which an employee can be absent. These days can be allocated as flexible days to be used for any reason or as vacation or sick time.

Some employers require that Paid Time Off (PTO) be used when an employee is sick. This is meant to encourage employees to come in when possible. However, employees often feel expected to come to work while sick and further spread germs and illness to their coworkers. This can develop into office-wide absenteeism and low productivity. 

Excused Absences

Most employers will excuse absenteeism for certain reasons, such as medical leave, jury duty, military work or bereavement. Proof of your leave (a jury duty notice, a doctor’s note, an obituary, etc.) is usually sufficient documentation for an employer to excuse absenteeism.

However, employers can spot trends and may keep track of how often an employee is absent and what their reasons are.

Solving Absenteeism

Absenteeism can be solved by employers and work environments in many different ways. Performance Improvement Plans teach employees to be self-aware and accountable for the work they have missed and how they have contributed over the past quarter or year.

Performance Reviews give the employee time to self-evaluate and can create a dialogue between the employee and the supervisor. Creating clear sick leave and excused absence policies help to eradicate any gray area surrounding taking days off. Incentive plans can also help increase morale and encourage employees to come to work every day.

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