Forms, Policies, & Guides

502 - Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness and Job Abandonment)

Subject: Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness & Job Abandonment)

Section: U502

Date: October, 2016


It is vital to the University for all employees to have reliable attendance. Absenteeism and tardiness negatively impact our ability to effectively provide University services. The purpose of this policy is to establish the requirements for reporting absences, to provide guidelines for the handling of tardiness, early departures, and unscheduled absences, and to outline employees' need to adhere to established work schedules to maintain efficient, effective operations throughout the University.


Term Definition
No call/no show An unscheduled absence without proper notification to the employee's supervisor or department.
Pattern Absences Unscheduled absences the day before or after a scheduled holiday, vacation, or personal day; on a desirable day off, a specific day of the week, or a weekend; a specific or unique work day; or as sick leave or other paid time off is accrued.
Scheduled Absence A scheduled absence occurs when an employee requests and is approved to take time off in accordance with department and University policies and applicable union contract. Some examples of scheduled absences include approved vacation, personal holidays, jury duty, military related, bereavement leave, FMLA leave, and Short-Term Disability leave.
Tardy Failure to report to an employee's assigned work area and be prepared to start work at his or her scheduled start time, including returning from breaks and meal periods.
Unscheduled Absence Failure to report to work on a scheduled workday or working less than half of a scheduled workday due to tardiness or leaving early without a written and approved time off request. Absences on consecutive workdays for the same reason will count as one unscheduled absence under this policy. Some examples of unscheduled absences include absences due to car trouble, caring for a family member who has the flu, and home emergency.
Unscheduled Early Departure Failure to work a complete workday due to an early departure without a written and approved time off request.  Please refer to Unscheduled Absence above when an early departure results in working less than half of a scheduled workday.


Staff employees must arrive and be prepared to commence work at their scheduled start time. Employees are responsible for notifying supervision of absences, late arrivals, or early departures each day of the absence, tardiness, or early departure, in accordance with their unit’s call-in procedure, which typically requires employees to advise supervision when they will report to work. Unscheduled absences, tardiness, and unscheduled early departures (whether excused or unexcused), failure to provide appropriate notification, or abuse of sick leave or other paid time off may result in corrective action up to and including termination of employment. (See Policy U208-Termination of Employment) Absences,  tardiness, and early departures due to approved FMLA leave, Short-Term Disability leave, military leave, jury duty, workers’ compensation, other approved leave, or reasonable accommodation as required by law will not be counted as occurrences. These guidelines apply to all staff employees whose departments do not have more specific guidelines, or when department attendance guidelines do not address certain areas covered by this policy.


1. Departments should communicate to staff employees the importance of timely and regular attendance and develop a written unit guideline that outlines a call-in procedure. The call-in procedure should define when and whom an employee should call if he/she is going to be absent or tardy. It should also address a time frame when an employee who will be delayed is required to notify supervision.

2. Time approvers are responsible for reviewing and approving time before each time approval deadline. It is the responsibility of the time approver to ensure the time submission is accurate. 

3. Notification of any unscheduled absence, tardiness, or unscheduled early departure must be made as far in advance as possible. An employee who will be unable to report to work as scheduled, tardy, or leaving early must contact his/her supervisor or the department’s designated call-in number as far in advance as possible and at the latest prior to the start of the shift or the departure. Notification and acknowledgment of tardiness, unscheduled early departure, or unscheduled absence will not excuse it.

4. Employees must record attendance and absences in UChicago Time or in the applicable attendance tracking records used by the Department. Immediate supervisors are responsible for reviewing and verifying attendance records (at least monthly) and recording occurrences, if applicable, to ensure the accuracy of the records and consistent application of department attendance guidelines and University policy.

5. An unscheduled absence will be recorded as one (1) occurrence. Each tardy or unscheduled early departure will be recorded as one-half (1/2) an occurrence. No occurrences will be recorded for scheduled absences or use of accrued sick leave as provided under University and department policy and union contract, if applicable. However, pattern usage, failure to provide timely notification, or failure to comply with the Sick Leave Policy may result in absences being counted as unscheduled absences.

6. Occurrences will be tracked by each department based on a rolling twelve (12) month period.

7. Supervisors of employees should follow the corrective action guidelines described below to address unscheduled absences, tardiness, and unscheduled early departures.  Upon four occurrences, each two occurrences thereafter will advance the corrective action process, up to and including termination of employment.  However, depending on the situation, corrective action may be accelerated, repeated, or taken out of sequence, and the University reserves the right to effect immediate termination should it be warranted.

  • Verbal warning upon four (4) occurrences.
  • Written warning upon six (6) occurrences.
  • Final warning or suspension upon eight (8) occurrences.
  • Termination of employment upon ten (10) occurrences.

Employees will be subject to immediate corrective action for no call/no show.   Two (2) or more consecutive workdays of no call/no show will be considered job abandonment and result in termination of employment.

Supervisors should be observant and identify pattern absences.  Employees will be subject to immediate corrective action for pattern unscheduled absences.  An employee should receive written notice of a pattern unscheduled absence including a description of the pattern from the employee’s supervisor or the Human Resource Administrator for the department.

8. Typically, employees who work for six (6) months without an occurrence since the last occurrence resulting in corrective action will not have the corrective action process progress to the next level. For example, if an employee receives a written warning due to the sixth occurrence on October 1st and receives two additional occurrences in the following June, the employee should receive another written warning.

9. Bi-weekly employees will not be compensated for time lost due to tardiness. However, an employee who is late six minutes or less is considered tardy but will be paid for the time. Tardiness of more than six (6) minutes will be unpaid. Meal periods and breaks may not be used to cover for absences or tardiness. An employee may not extend the normal workday or work beyond his/her scheduled shift to make up for being tardy without the prior approval of the employee’s supervisor.

10. An unscheduled absence typically is unpaid unless an employee’s supervisor approves the use of accrued vacation, sick leave, or personal holiday time in accordance with University policy and appropriate union contract, if applicable. Acceptable means of verifying the reason for the unscheduled absence may be required. An employee will not be compensated for unscheduled absences that extend beyond his/her accrual balances.

11. Requests for scheduled absences, including jury duty, emergency time off (vacation or personal holiday), bereavement, military leave, medical leave, and personal leave must be requested as far in advance as possible consistent with University and department policy and applicable union contract and law. It is the employee’s responsibility to request leave or excused time off and to submit appropriate documentation. Employees, who will be unable to report to work as scheduled (except for a University preapproved block of leave time) or using intermittent FMLA leave or other leave are required to contact their supervisor or the department each day unless otherwise instructed by their supervisor. Denied leave or other requested time off, failure to return to work after an approved leave, or failure to comply with these guidelines or other applicable University policy may result in the treatment of time away from work as an unscheduled absence,  tardiness, or unscheduled early departure under this policy.

12. Employees absent three (3) or more consecutive days due to illness or who are suspected of abuse of sick leave may be required to submit a proof of illness certificate issued by a health care provider and identifying when the employee was seen and treated. Failure to submit such proof upon request shall automatically disqualify the employee for sick leave pay and will result in the absences being counted as unscheduled absences.

13. Employees who are eligible to use paid sick leave may use accrued sick time for routine doctor’s appointments. The employee must notify the supervisor in advance of the appointment, and may be required to submit proof that the time taken was used for the appointment. When possible, such appointments should be scheduled at the beginning or the end of the shift.

14. Due to the nature of the services that employees provide we are rarely able to close our operations. With that in mind, employees are expected to report for work on severe weather days and to plan ahead to anticipate any difficulties that might be encountered. If an employee will be late or unable to report to work, the employee must notify his or her supervisor as soon as possible. The departments will decide whether employees will receive occurrences for tardiness or unscheduled absences on severe weather days.

Employees represented by a union may be governed by the appropriate bargaining unit agreement.