[T]he Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need … man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth … My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying.
From the Art of Lying by Mark Twain.
Mr. Twain’s concern about the decay of lying played out last week when CBS reported that a Southfield, Michigan woman lied (very poorly) about being abducted. Originally the woman did not call the police, but a co-worker insisted that they should be called. After they investigated the abduction report, including video surveillance showing no abduction whatsoever, it became apparent that the abduction was made up. After being confronted with the evidence, the woman admitted that she made it up because she was late in returning to work after lunch. She was arrested for giving a false police report and after the arrest, it was reported that the police discovered a bag of marijuana and some narcotics paraphernalia allegedly belonging to the woman.
The Take-Away for Employers
While this story is somewhat laughable, it is also an important reminder for employers to have in place appropriate attendance policies that promote attendance and punctuality and provides a framework for enforcing both. Such policies should also provide for a legitimate means for employees and employers to handle unexpected situations that may interrupt an employee’s normal attendance.
An attendance policy depend upon your company’s particular circumstances, however, some general guidelines for absenteeism and tardiness are as follows:
- It should be explained, in writing, to employees that absences may be designated as either excused or unexcused absences and how this determination will be made;
- If an employee is going to be absent or tardy, who must be notified and under what circumstances. For example, ideally such notice should generally be provided prior to the event or as soon afterwards as possible and include the reason for the absence or tardiness, an estimate of when the employee is expected to return to work, and include a description of any unfinished work assignments that may require completion;
- It should also be emphasized that the employee may be asked, in the employer’s sole discretion, written verification of the reason given for the absence or tardiness;
- Also, employers should expressly note that a failing to report an absence for some determined amount of consecutive scheduled work days may result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge. Similarly, employee should be advised that excessive tardiness may, in the discretion of the employer, be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.
These are generic examples concerning employee absences. However, more attention and separate policies will likely be needed concerning employee absences for medical related reasons in order to comply with applicable employment law requirements, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act.
For more information about these employment law matters or updating your company’s employment policies, contact Jason M. Shinn. Mr. Shinn is an employment attorney who focuses on employment law compliance and litigation.
Also, feel free to leave a comment about the most outrageous lie given to your company by an employee in order to get time off or to excuse an absence.