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By November 2, 2017November 9th, 2017

Article content provided by 501(c) Agencies Trust Client Relations

When you discharge an employee for excessive absenteeism and/or tardiness, the employee is not automatically disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The employer must prove the employee’s absences and/or tardiness was misconduct, and this can be very difficult to do. To establish misconduct when an employee is discharged for absenteeism or tardiness, there are certain basic guidelines that should be followed.

  • Reporting – Disregard of procedures or failure to call in may constitute misconduct regardless of the reason for absence or lateness (for example, while an employee may allege illness, this will usually not excuse a no call or no show). However, the employee’s failure to follow your procedures and policies will do you no good in a protest unless you document the conduct and your efforts to reach the employee.


  • Documentation – Maintain absence or tardiness records. Note reasons given and related infractions such as failure to produce required medical documentation.


  • Disciplinary Action – Progressive disciplinary action should be initiated, in accord with work rules and policies. Warnings should be issued and reviewed with an employee when appropriate. A delay in initiating progressive discipline might result in the state unemployment agency ruling that the employee’s conduct was being tolerated, and in effect approved, by the employer.


  • Final Incident – The last incident of absenteeism or tardiness prior to discharge should involve conduct or behavior within the employee’s control (For example: if an employee is ill, calls in as instructed and furnishes required medical documentation, there is no misconduct despite warnings).


  • Point System – Many employers use a point system to manage employee absences. These systems provide a substantially simplified way to handle employee absences, but remember the requirement about the final incident. The final incident must be within the employee’s control. So former employees frequently collect benefits even if their absences justify dismissal under a point system.

If you have questions about this topic or other subject matter related to separations, please feel free to call Client Services at 800.442.4867 or contact us online.

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