Attendance Discussions


Manager Preparation

Managers need to be well prepared in order to encourage a successful discussion. In order to be well-prepared, the manager should:

  • Think about what is intended to be accomplished (e.g. raise awareness of employer concerns, help understand the cause of the absences, identify solutions, etc.)

  • Review the staff member's file and past attendance record, identify similar problems in the past, reasons, and action taken to resolve the problems

  • Develop an appropriate approach and a number of alternatives

  • Seek advice from human resources staff on key points to address during the interview

  • Set a mutually suitable time

  • Allow enough time for discussion

  • Organize all the facts and information well in advance of the interview

  • Discuss the attendance concern, not other issues

  • Plan for taking notes about the interview.

Interview Tone and Setting

In any meeting with a staff member to address an attendance issue, the interview tone and setting are extremely important to the success of the meeting. It is important that the manager conducts the meeting in a respectful manner and in a tone that shows genuine concern. A tactful presentation of the issue by the manager and a request for improvement will encourage a positive staff member response and help to establish a cooperative relationship. Keep in mind that the purpose of these meetings is to raise the staff member's awareness of the attendance problem, inform them that the department is concerned, identify solutions and encourage improvement. As a staff member progresses through the program there will be a need to advise them of potential risk to the employment relationship.

Remember, unless there is evidence to the contrary, the manager always assumes that an absence is one of innocent or non-culpable absenteeism and therefore, is not subject to disciplinary action.

Tone to Take

  • Meet in a suitable location (e.g. privacy).

  • Ensure confidentiality.

  • Show respect for the individual.

  • Listen carefully, put the staff member at ease (the purpose of the interview is to find a solution, not to discourage the staff member).

  • Observe non-verbal communication signals and body movements.

  • Use a tone of voice that demonstrates concern rather than anger or discipline.

  • Control voice volume.

  • Recognize that the choice of spoken words will affect the outcome of the meeting.

  • Allow the staff member the opportunity to comment.

  • Be sure to document the meeting.

Points to Make

  • Have a copy of the staff member's attendance record to review with them.

  • Emphasize the university's need and desire for every staff member to be at work as scheduled.

  • Identify how the absences affect the department (morale of fellow staff members, effectiveness and productivity of work group, quality of service provided).

  • Stress the requirement for improvement and clearly define expectations.

  • Inform the staff member that their attendance will continue to be monitored.

  • Remind the staff member that the Employee and Family Assistance Program is available to them.

  • Emphasize future improvement rather than the negative issues from the past.

  • Review the Suggested Responses to Frequently Asked Questions below.

Suggested Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

he Attendance Support Program applies to all staff. This meeting has been arranged to discuss your circumstances. It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the management of another individual's attendance.

I realize you were legitimately sick on those days and I do not believe you have been abusing the sick leave policy.

However, I am concerned that you are unable to be at work on a regular basis and that your absences have resulted in unsatisfactory attendance. Regular attendance is a requirement of your position. We are entitled to expect regular attendance from our staff members. Your absences create staffing problems and increase the workload for colleagues. I would like to be able to provide you with support and resources in an effort to address any issues preventing you from attending work regularly. If there is a medical problem, I would encourage you seek advice and resources to remedy the situation. If you have a medical condition that may require accommodation, I want to work with you to consider ways that I may be able facilitate that.

I monitor all my staff members' attendance on an ongoing basis. In addition, as a result of your attendance record, you will remain in the attendance management program until you maintain an acceptable record for at least 12 continuous months depending on what Level you are at in the program.