Attendance Support Program

Management and Professional Staff, AUPE, and Exempt-by-Position Staff Members


The University of Calgary depends on the contributions of its staff to create a high-quality learning environment and support the goal of becoming one of the top research universities in Canada. To achieve this, regular attendance at work is vital.

The Attendance Support Program supports the university's commitment to assist staff in achieving and maintaining regular attendance and to provide managers with tools to address attendance concerns in a constructive manner. The primary goal of the Program is to support and encourage regular attendance and facilitate reasonable inquiry into potential accommodation needs under Human Rights law. It is not the intention of this program to mandate or encourage staff to disclose confidential medical information to their managers.

The Program applies to Management and Professional Staff (MaPS), Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Local 52 (AUPE) and exempt-by-position staff members.

Manager's wanting to apply this program within their program area or portfolio must:

  • Attend and complete the training session on Duty to Accommodate and Attendance Management for Managers offered by Human Resources.

or

  • Consult with your HR Partner on specific cases prior to initiating any steps and at each subsequent stage. The HR Partner will provide guidance at each stage and manage access to appropriate templates.

Guiding Principles

The university believes that:


the university has a responsibility to provide a safe, respectful, and healthy workplace

all staff are valued team members who contribute to the quality of service at the university

regular attendance is essential to furthering the university's goals and objectives

staff have a contractual obligation to attend work

some Absences are unavoidable and to be expected from time to time (legitimate Absences are supported through various approved leaves

each staff member's personal health issues are unique therefore an individual's attendance must be considered in context on a case-by-case basis

frequent, positive, & supportive communication between managers and their staff is critical to improving attendance and developing regular attendance

regular attendance is primarily the responsibility of the staff member, but the university recognizes it's duty to accommodate to the best of ability.


General Responsibilities

The Attendance Support Program is guided by a clear set of principles that are supportive in nature and recognize the importance of regular communication.

  • Attend work on time as scheduled unless unable to do so for legitimate reasons

  • Make every effort to schedule personal appointments or obligations outside of work hours and obtain prior approval if they are required to be absent for a personal appointment

  • Follow established reporting procedures when they are not able to attend work and indicate the reason and expected date of return

  • Provide medical documentation to Staff Wellness when required to support an absence

  • Seek solutions to issues that may be impacting their ability to maintain regular attendance

  • Request accommodation if required

  • Accept reasonable offers of accommodation

  • Keep the manager and Staff Wellness informed of any changes in accommodation

  • Provide supporting documentation to validate the need for accommodation.

  • Be accountable for the attendance levels within their areas including ensuring accurate reporting and keeping appropriate records/documentation or attendance issues

  • Review Absence Summary Reports on a quarterly basis

  • Assess and identify potential Absence problems in a timely manner

  • Clearly communicate the acceptable attendance standard to staff members

  • Provide regular feedback to staff regarding their attendance

  • Assist staff who are struggling with attendance issues to develop an action plan to improve attendance and support them in achieving the goals of their action plan

  • Maintain appropriate communication with staff who are absent from work

  • Inquire as appropriate about potential accommodation needs

  • Seek out and offer reasonable accommodations when required in a timely manner.

  • Maintain and report data or statistics regarding attendance

  • Provide training on the Program

  • Maintain the Program along with any supporting resources and documents to support staff and managers in fulfilling their responsibilities

  • Provide advice and support to managers who are dealing with absenteeism issues

  • Assist the manager and staff to understand their obligations under the duty to accommodate

  • Assist the manager in fulfilling their duty to accommodate.

  • Assist staff and managers with the administration of sick leave, disability, and Workers Compensation benefits

  • Request and manage confidential medical information when appropriate

  • Assist in the development of return to work plans

  • Act as a resource for managers and staff when a staff member is unable to attend work due to illness or injury

  • Advise the manager whether medical information supports an Absence from work

  • Consult with Human Resources, Employee and Labour Relations as necessary


Attendance Monitoring and Identifying Attendance Concerns

The Program provides a process for consistently monitoring attendance wherein regular attendance is commended and excessive absenteeism is addressed with the goal of bringing attendance in line with the Acceptable Standard.

The Program establishes five levels of attendance with Level 1 capturing the vast majority of staff whose attendance is within acceptable standards all the way up to Level 5 which captures the most serious of ongoing absenteeism cases.

The meetings that are offered at each Level outlined below are aimed at addressing non-culpable absenteeism and are not disciplinary in nature. Attendance Support meetings with staff members in Levels 2 and above should occur at least quarterly. Staff members should either progress up or down a Level following each quarterly meeting based on either satisfactory improvement or continued concerns. In some circumstances a staff member may maintain their Level if they have demonstrated some improvement, but their rate of absenteeism remains above the 'Acceptable Standard'. When a staff member's attendance has improved to the extent that it is within the 'Acceptable Standard', they should receive a letter commending their efforts and confirming their Level in the Program.

For Unionized employees, although there is no strict entitlement to notice and/or Union representation at Attendance Support meetings, it is strongly recommended that reasonable notice and access to Union representation is offered at all Levels of the Program. More weight should be given to such requests the further along in the Program the staff member progresses.

Attendance Levels

  • Absenteeism is within 'Acceptable Standard'.

  • No action required.

  • Absenteeism remains excessive and attendance has failed to improve despite reasonable and documented attempts to support and accommodate the staff member to the point of undue hardship.
  • For reasons beyond their control or ability to influence, the staff member is unable to fulfill the terms of their employment contract.

  • The employer needs to consider whether continuing the employment relationship is still worthwhile.

 


Implementation

  • HR Services will provide training to participating managers and share the confirmed 'Acceptable Standard' with the managers.

  • Managers must communicate the 'Acceptable Standard' in writing to staff within their area at least annually.

  • Managers need to be diligent and consistent in their application of the Program Levels.

  • HR will be available to provide coaching and support as managers work through the Program with their staff.

  • Suggested Responses to FAQs, Tips and Suggested Speaking Points for Attendance Discussions

Program Resources


Attendance Support Program Document

View

HR Manager Reports Reference Guide

View


About the Program

The Acceptable Standard has been set at nine days. This threshold is subject to review annually.

This standard was determined after considering the university average use of sick leave, the National public sector average rates of absence, and consultation with stakeholders including Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and Management and Professional Staff (MaPS) Executive.

If the threshold is amended, this change will be communicated to managers and the Attendance Support Program including the web page will be updated accordingly.

Managers who are unsure about whether the threshold has been revised are encouraged to check this page and/or contact your HR Partner or Advisor.

Generally, the absences to be considered are unanticipated in nature such as sick leave and some unpaid leaves. It may also include excessive appointment time. It does not, however, include leaves that typically require managerial approval in advance such as vacation.

The Acceptable Standard is set in the context of a normal work day. In the case of a part-time staff member, one absence for the purposes of the Attendance Support Program would equate to missing one full shift/tour of duty.

When it comes to the consideration of appointment time during part of a normal work day, a fair amount of managerial discretion needs to be exercised. Appointment time needs to be considered along with other absences where together they exceed nine (9) full work days.

No, punctuality is a performance management issue and instances of lateness are considered and will be addressed outside the scope of the ASP.

Managers looking to implement the program in their area should consider the staff members attendance over the previous 12 months leading up to the initial Attendance Support meeting.

No. Once the threshold has been met or exceeded, a staff member can expect to meet with their manager to discuss any issues related to attendance. It is based on this discussion that the manager will offer support and the staff member may be placed into Step II of the program.

Yes, the program offers support to staff members on a regular basis and it is recommended that meetings be scheduled at least quarterly. A manager may deem it necessary to meet more frequently or on an ad hoc basis as issues arise, however, we would suggest that the staff member not be moved through to the next step until the quarterly review period has been completed.

No, a staff member cannot refuse to attend a meeting conveyed by their manager. Employees are encouraged to actively participate in the discussion and assist in identifying ways to address or demonstrate regular attendance. Managers are encouraged to schedule meetings to allow union representation, especially as a staff member is advancing through the program.

Manager's Role

Managers are required to undertake training and work in conjunction with HR Services throughout the application of the ASP which will assist with the consistent rollout of the program. A staff member's individual circumstances, which may prevent a rigid application of the program, must always be considered throughout the process.

Managers can initiate the program once they have received training or an overview of the program from their HR Partner at which time additional resources will be provided to help with implementation. Managers should consult with their HR Partner/Advisor prior to making a decision to manage the attendance of a staff member. HR can assist managers with training on the program, distinguishing between culpable versus a non-culpable absenteeism, preparing for conversations with their staff member, and providing template letters for the various stages of the program.

Managers who wish to implement the program in their area are encouraged to reach out to their HR Partner/Advisor to schedule a training session.

Managers have the ability to run reports detailing sick leave and appointment time use by staff members. Managers are encouraged to run these reports on a quarterly basis to identify concerns. Family Illness use can be seen by running the Time and Labour Launch Pad in Manager Self Service. If a Manager is having trouble running these reports, their HR Partner/Advisor can provide assistance.

Consult with your HR Partner/Advisor prior to making a decision to withhold an annual increment. These decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis. It is possible that frequent or prolonged absences could impact whether a staff member is granted a merit increase, but this determination is not an automatic one.

Grievances are a normal and expected part of doing business in a unionized environment. Employee and Labour Relations has engaged in broad consultations with AUPE and MaPS Exec throughout the development of this program. When properly executed, the ASP is non-disciplinary in nature.

Various employers and unions have tested these types of programs at arbitration over the past decade and the key elements of a defensible attendance management program are well understood. Employee and Labour Relations has taken into account a number of the lessons learned over the past several years from the successful and unsuccessful arbitrations on the subject. As a result, we are confident in the program. That is not to say that a Manager's application of the program is immune from the grievance process. That is why we are spending a great deal of effort to ensure HR and managers are well trained on the ASP and prepared to roll it out successfully in their areas.

We discourage managers from asking for a doctor's note for instances of casual illness. For absences that exceed 5 days, managers should notify Staff Wellness. Staff Wellness is responsible for reaching out the staff member to obtain supporting medical documentation and ensure confidentiality of sensitive information. There may be occasions where it is appropriate to request support for absences of less than five days in duration and in those circumstances it is critical that the manager work closely with their HR Partner/Advisor.

If there is a fee charged to the staff member as a result of the university requiring medical documentation, the staff member may submit an expense claim for reimbursement of the fee and the Faculty/Department will be responsible for reimbursement.

Managers should handle these types of situations the same as any other sick leave situation. There are times when staff members will fall ill at work and need to take the remainder of the day off. If this happens frequently, the staff member may be referred to Staff Wellness and asked to provide supporting medical document. As always, the manager should consult with their HR Partner/Advisor when dealing with these sorts of issues.

Appointment Time

To the greatest extent possible, appointments should be booked outside of work hours, however the university recognizes that is not always possible. In those cases when appointments conflict with work scheduled, the amount of reasonable notice will depend on the circumstances and the operational needs of the Faculty/Department.

If a staff member's absence requires scheduling changes to ensure adequate coverage, the university is entitled to 14 days' notice in order to avoid incurring costs associated with schedule changes. If, on the other hand, the absence can be managed without having to incur additional costs, less notice may be acceptable. Managers are permitted and encouraged to establish reasonable guidelines for providing advanced notice and must clearly communicate such guidelines to their staff.

Yes, in the case of support staff who fall within the AUPE Local 52 Bargaining Unit, the Collective Agreement clearly states that staff members should make every effort to schedule appointments outside of work hours. When that is not possible, efforts should be made to schedule appointments when it least impacts operations (e.g., evenings, weekends, lunch hours, beginning or end of workday, etc.). Appointments taken during working hours must be approved in advance by the staff member's manager.

A manager must be reasonable in assessing whether to approve appointment time, and the most important consideration is operational need. However, he or she may deny requests for appointment time for a number of reasons beyond just operational need. Managers are entitled to enquire about what efforts the staff member made to schedule the appointment outside of work hours and if not possible, at a time that was least disruptive to operations. If a manager is not satisfied that the staff member exhausted their efforts in this regard, the request may be denied.

A manager may deny requests for appointment time for a number of reasons beyond just operational need. This may include but is not necessarily limited to; insufficient notice, a failure to make every effort to schedule the appointment outside of work time, or the staff member is not forthcoming with information. If a manager is unsure whether it is reasonable to deny a request for appointment time, they should consult with their HR Advisor/Partner.

Employees must have prior approval for an absence related to an appointment. If a staff member was expressly told by their manager that their appointment time was not approved for operational reasons, and the staff member leaves to attend the appointment anyway, this time should be coded as unapproved leave without pay and the staff member may be subject to discipline. If this situation arises consult with your HR Advisor/Partner immediately. It will be important to investigate the matter and determine if there are any mitigating factors to consider prior to taking any action.

Although we generally discourage asking for proof of attendance for casual absences, if a manager would like to ask for proof of attendance of an appointment, contact your HR Advisor/Partner. These types of requests should be handled by the Staff Wellness to respect confidentiality of medical information. SW will make the request and ensure that the necessary information is obtained (e.g., confirming the appointment was for the staff member, clinic hours, etc.)

The appointment time provision applies to the staff member's appointments and not those of their family members. If a staff member requires time off to take their ill family member to an appointment, they should request family illness leave. That said, family illness leave is not intended for attendance at regular checkups or appointments that are not prompted by an illness or injury (e.g., annual physical, regular dental cleaning, etc.).

This type of blanket requirement is discouraged. Managers must exercise their discretion in a way that is reasonable and takes into consideration the individual circumstances of staff members. Impact to operations need to be considered at the point in time that the request is made and managers should be open to revisiting their decisions in the future if circumstances change.