Attendance Management

What is Attendance Management?

Attendance Management keeps track of your employee hours. It is the system you use to document the time your employees work and the time they take off. Attendance Management can be done by recording employee hours on paper, using spreadsheets, punching time cards, or using online attendance software for your company.

What is the importance of Attendance Management?

Every organization should have an Attendance Management System for employees. Your system needs to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act timekeeping requirements, regardless of how you implement it.

Attendance Management Systems allow you to calculate the hours for which employees work accurately. This is especially beneficial if you have employees working on an hourly basis. You need to be able to calculate the exact wages you owe to your employees. And, you need to know if you owe overtime wages to any employees.

If you have salaried employees, you can always see how often employees are working. Employees can record and document the time both at and away from your business. You can keep a track of how much they are working, even when you don’t see them.

Tracking employee time will also let you know if employees are punctual. This only works if you require employees to document the exact time they enter or leave. You can see if an employee tends to show up late or skip out early from work.

Attendance management also lets you keep track of how many days off employees use. This is crucial if your business has a policy that lets employees use a certain number of sick or vacation days.

attendance management

What are the types of Attendance Management System (AMS)?

A number of HR and payroll software solutions come equipped with attendance management capabilities. However, there are a number of different types of available software for attendance management system and each one differs a little from the next.

Sometimes clubbed with an attendance management system is also a leave management system, which, together with an attendance management software, delivers the inputs for the payroll needs of a company. Coming back to the various attendance management program available in the market today, here’s a quick outline:

The employees of your organization can enhance their productivity with these software suites.

1. Biometric attendance software

A biometric attendance system essentially verifies the identity of the employee and captures one’s time of entry and exit using his or her fingerprint. Such systems are very popular today and for good reasons. This prevents any chances of buddy punching which leads to time leakages that can affect the productivity of an organization as a whole.

Biometric systems are usually integrated with other systems to convert the data into lucid reports. This can be done easily. Such systems have also been found to be extremely cost-effective as there are no-cost heads apart from the actual biometric machine itself.

Adding or removing employees too can be done easily, quickly and with minimum inconvenience.

2. Break-time tracking software

Many organizations or types of organizations feel the need to track the duration of breaks taken by employees. For them, break-time tracking software is just the key. With such software, employees can punch in and punch out multiple times throughout the day.

The first punch-in is treated as the employee’s entry into the company premises. Thereafter, every punch out and subsequent punch-ins are treated as a break from work. The time phase between each punch-out and punch-in is treated as one break.

Such systems find use particularly in companies where the time spent on projects is critical.

3. Online attendance management software

A timekeeping system that offers a web login facility is generally known as an online attendance management software. These functions use cloud technology to ensure that one’s attendance data can be accessed and logins and logouts performed from virtually any location with an internet connection.

Logins and logouts can also be performed with ease at the simple click of a button – a convenience many employees expect in our digital age. Such systems also come in handy when you have a large part of the workforce that’s working remotely, at client locations or in outbound sales roles.

Now that you have a basic outline of the types of attendance management systems out there and their key features, why not pick one that meets your requirements today? Attendance management software delivers way higher efficiency than traditional systems such as attendance musters. Also to be borne in mind is the fact that attendance management software that is integrated with other HR systems such as leave and payroll deliver far higher synergy than a standalone attendance management system (AMS).

What are the key elements of Attendance Management

Most of the employer Attendance Management Programs share these five key elements.

1. Definition of an ‘absence’ for the usage of the AMP

The term “absenteeism” refers to many types of absences and can include those caused by chilly weather, statutory holidays, vacation, illness, family-related demands and stresses in the workplace. The Attendance Management Programs should focus on absences that distort the workplace and clearly articulate which ones will be “absences” for the purpose of AMP.

Scheduled absences like vacation and statutory holidays are generally considered useful and are usually easily absorbed by the employer. But unscheduled, habitual absences, late arrivals, and early departures can be troublesome to the workplace, an irritant to other employees and carry notable costs and effects on overall productivity.

2. A distinction between “culpable” and “innocent” absence

One of the most critical distinctions an employer must make when dealing with attendance issues generally, and in an AMP specifically, is between “culpable” and “innocent” absenteeism.

The Attendance Management Program should clearly refer to this difference and classification; it’s also helpful if it sets out what can be considered a “non-culpable” absence and the employer’s expectations around it. The distinction is crucial to how the employer handles the issue: while in either of the cases, excessive absenteeism may lead to termination, the employer must take a different approach to each. It’s therefore important to classify the absence upfront and clearly, describe how the employer will deal with each.


“Culpable” absenteeism is the absence within the employee’s power to address and correct – and is thus “blameworthy” absenteeism for which the employer can hold the employee responsible and typically leads to a progressive disciplinary response.


“Innocent” (or “non-culpable”) absence is not fault-based (for example, the employer doesn’t suggest an employee abuses sick leave entitlements or otherwise) or blameworthy and typically mandates a non-disciplinary progressive coaching process – precisely what an AMP is supposed to handle. But this doesn’t mean an employer is precluded from setting reasonable expectations and taking corrective (though non-disciplinary) measures, or can never terminate an employment.

It does mean the steps leading up to and including any termination should not be “disciplinary”. For the employer to terminate an employee on the basis of innocent absenteeism, it must establish that the employee’s absenteeism is extreme when measured against a reasonable standard; and that there’s little likelihood of a change in the degree of absence in the future.

Verification of the absence

This is key to the employer’s ability to correctly classify the absence. And since employees are required to provide regular ongoing attendance, the employer has the right to be fully informed of the basis of an employee’s absence and any work limitations or modifications she needs to perform her job duties.

It’s vital that the employer consistently enforce its right to proper information and notification from employees: if an employer allows absenteeism to go unchecked, it is very difficult for it to later assert its rights. It’s useful to set out in the AMP the employee’s obligation to provide medical information, what information is required, and from whom.

Illness or any medical condition is probably the most frequent reason for absenteeism, and verification might require the disclosure of employee medical information. Employers should have a limited right to access an employee’s medical information, and a corresponding obligation to protect the confidentiality of that information. Where the absence isn’t for a medical / illness reason, the employer is entitled to know the specific reason for the absence, subject to any limitations imposed by privacy or human rights laws, and to verification of that cause.

3. A mechanism for absence reporting

The AMP should address, in some detail, both employees’ obligations to report absences and how they should do so, and provide for the employer’s regular assessment of employees’ attendance records. It’s essential to the evaluation and monitoring of any AMP that the employer should implement a system to report and track individual employee absences. Most AMPs provide for employer tracking of paid sick leave, unpaid sick leave, illness during a shift, illness in the family, and medical appointments where absence from work exceeds one hour.

4. Thresholds for entry into and progression through the AMP

The AMP should clearly set out a threshold for entry into and progression through a coaching procedure and detail what each will cover. It’s legally acceptable and practically essential that the employer set an absenteeism “threshold” for entry into the AMP and for moving through each stage of the coaching process up to and including any non-disciplinary termination.

These thresholds are typically based on a specified number of hours of non-culpable absences with a defined period of time (for example, entry at 67.5 hours of non-culpable absences within any 12 months period).  

5. Preservation of employer discretion

It’s critical that the employer bear in mind its legal obligation not to discriminate and its duty to accommodate under human rights legislation (and any applicable collective agreement) when creating, implementing and enforcing any AMP. If not, it runs the risk that a court, tribunal or arbitrator will find it discriminatory and strike it down.

The AMP should restore the employer’s ability to exercise discretion and deviate from the AMP so it can adjust based on the specific circumstances in each case – and in particular, to make sure it can always meet its duty to accommodate as and when it might arise. A common AMP deviation is not to count the hours of absence towards the AMP thresholds during a period of disability.

Employers must be alive to “flags” raising the possibility of an accommodation need when dealing with absenteeism so they can meet their legal obligations. Innocent absenteeism could be related to an employee’s membership in a group protected by human rights legislation.

The employer’s duty to accommodate begins when it has been made aware of the need for accommodation, or the circumstances are such that it ought reasonably to have known of the need for accommodation. Frequently, it’s during the coaching sessions in the context of an AMP where the employee will disclose the need for an accommodation, or there will be “flags” that raise that possibility and trigger the employer’s duty to accommodate.

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