November 15, 2016
The employment contract is an exchange of labour for wages and other benefits, so employers are entitled to expect regular ongoing attendance from their employees. But poor attendance (and its evil twin, high absenteeism) is one of the most challenging problems employers face, and absenteeism is one of the biggest drains on workplace productivity and morale. Employers that successfully recognize and actively manage this issue stand to reap huge benefits.
One of the most effective tools to actively manage attendance and reduce absenteeism is a workplace Attendance Management Program (AMP). Here’s a look at AMPs and the five key elements that most AMPs share.
THE ABSENTEEISM PROBLEM
Punctuality and regular attendance are essential attributes of every employment relationship: having contracted for labour, an employer is entitled to rely on its employees to attend work and to perform the tasks for which they were hired. The employer organizes its workplace and provides goods and services to its customers in reliance on this contract. An employee who fails to provide labour on a sustained basis is in breach of her obligations under the employment contract (or collective agreement).
Despite this, poor attendance is one of the most challenging problems employers face – and one with significant impact. According to the Conference Board of Canada’s September 23, 2013 report, private sector employees called in sick 8.2 days/year and workplace absences cost an estimated $16.6B in 2012 – yet only 46% of employers tracked the number of days employees were absent and why. The problem is only getting worse: according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, between 1997 and 2012 the average number of days lost per worker per year has significantly increased: in the private sector, from 6.7 days to 8.3; in non-unionized workplaces, from 5.6 to 7.5; and in unionized workplaces from 10.7 to 12.8.
AN ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
Given the significant impact of absenteeism on employers’ operations, employers have a legitimate interest in reducing the impact of excessive absenteeism and the right to take active steps to manage it. Employers that do so can reap huge benefits, including a reduced incidence, duration and related costs of absence, as well as reduced management time and increased productivity.
Managing attendance and absenteeism raises a number of challenges for employers, and employers can take a multi-pronged approach to addressing the problem. One of the most effective tools is implementing a formalized Attendance Management Program (AMP) to systematically address workplace absenteeism issues.
An attendance management policy in the form of an AMP is generally acceptable in the workplace if it sets out: the employer’s expectations for consistent and regular attendance; promotion of wellness; procedures for notifying the employer of absences; and monitoring attendance records. Employers in a unionized workplace have the right to institute a program designed to improve attendance without the union’s endorsement as long as it satisfies the “KVP” criteria (named for the arbitration case in which it was first enunciated): the AMP is not inconsistent with the collective agreement; it is not unreasonable; it is both clear and unequivocal; the employer brings the AMP to the attention of the affected employee(s) before acting on it; and the employer consistently enforces the AMP.
5 KEY ELEMENTS OF ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
Most employer Attendance Management Programs share these five key elements.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of the Labour & Employment Team @ McInnes Cooper to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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