FMLA, FFCCA Norms for Attendance: Should You Upgrade Your Policies Now?

Published On
September 28, 2023
Read Time
4.5 minutes
OnBlick Inc

Punctuality and attendance are considered to be important traits for employees to function well. As businesses underwent a series of changes with the onset of the pandemic, their operations changed along with them. The attendance policies were reworked and paused by many. While some employers suspended their attendance policies, others modified them in accordance with the FMLA and FFCRA norms. It has now become even more important that businesses comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) norms for their refurbished policies.

In this blog, we discuss how attendance policies affect the employees, and whether it’s time businesses review or revoke their policy for good.

What is an Employee attendance policy?

An employee attendance policy is a set of rules regarding the attendance of employees in a company. An attendance policy may include rules and guidelines for taking sick leaves, casual leaves, and vacation leaves among other leaves included by the company. It may also involve guidelines for situations like tardiness, early outs, and no-shows.

Moreover, it includes a detailed account of the repercussions of poor attendance, exceeding the number of leaves, and payroll calculation. The employee attendance policy specifies the reporting time, the allowed duration for breaks, and the number of hours of work expected from employees.

How does the Pandemic Impact Attendance Policies?

Due to the impact of the pandemic, several employees were forced to suspend their perfect-attendance policies. It has become even more difficult to administer attendance policies as we continue working remotely. There are a host of issues faced by employers and their workforce as they work from home. These may include the burden of the shutting down of schools, the fear of contracting the virus in the workplace, the risk of missing up on the payroll due to the economic crisis, etc.

In addition to this, employers need to conform to the laws of the FMLA and the FFCRA norms. Employers are faced with questions about the inclusion of sick leaves within their perfect attendance policies. Some suggest that sick leaves taken under the FFCRA or FMLA should not be considered as other forms of excused leaves.

Several state and local health departments following the instructions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the employers ensure flexible work policies for their employees. The policies encouraged that the employees could work remotely, wherever feasible. It may also prevent employees suffering from COVID-19 to stay at home. This led to federal law for extension of sick leaves and family medical leaves under the FFCRA for eligible employees.

A Need for Reinvention of Attendance Policies

While attendance bonuses may act as great motivators for some employees, they may lead others to underperform. Research conducted in 2013 showed how, despite the improvement in discipline among employees, bonuses didn’t improve much productivity in employees. It led to a decline in the performance of the stellar employees.

Attendance rewards may be biased in some cases. They may indirectly discriminate if they do not take into account, the reason for the employee’s absence. It has been pointed out that disabled or pregnant employees do not gain from such policies. Additionally, several employees have been facing issues as they work remotely and may need more sick leaves during the pandemic.

Alternative Solutions

With the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccination, several employers may feel the need to implement their perfect attendance policies again. The attendance policies may need to be reviewed by the employers keeping in mind the needs of different employees.  Importantly, these policies should also comply with the new state laws regarding sick leaves.

1. Voluntary Attendance Policies

To keep up with the times, several employers have lately adopted voluntary attendance policies for their organizations. Voluntary attendance policies highlight a certain period or hours where the employees may voluntarily cease work or stay at home. They may avoid any consequences such as adverse performance reviews or termination during the specified duration.

These policies aid employers in motivating the employees by providing them the space to follow social distancing norms and flexible work hours. They also save the employees from the hidden costs incurred through layoffs and rehiring.

2. Paid-Time-Off Considerations

Employers may also consider paid-time-off leaves for their organizations. They may follow the same norms as the no-fault attendance policies for employees. It should, however, be ensured that these policies do not interfere with reasonable leaves that have been stated as compulsory by the state or local laws.

The paid time off programs may require employees to identify their reasons for taking leaves. It may prove useful for the employers in confirming and documenting their policy compliance with the state and local leave recordkeeping requirements.


It may thus be concluded that attendance bonuses should be based on the behavioral patterns of the employees, and more inclusive. Instead of rewarding behaviors going forward, awards for past performance may be more effective in some cases. It is now important that employers reevaluate the efficacy of perfect attendance policies in their organization. The pandemic has highlighted how such policies may be ignoring the health concerns and productivity of the employees. It makes one question whether it’s time employers find alternative ways to motivate their employees to do better.

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