Employee Attendance Write Ups: When and How to Do It Right

Angry female manager discussing with man for coming late to office

Dealing with employee attendance write ups isn't the most exciting part of being a manager. But it's an important task that helps maintain a productive work environment and keeps everyone on the same page.

Whether it’s a formal write up or a verbal warning, knowing when and how to address attendance issues is crucial.

In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of handling attendance write ups, when to issue them, and how to do it effectively. By the end, you'll be better equipped to manage employee attendance and foster a supportive yet disciplined workplace.

Understand the importance of attendance write ups

Handling employee attendance write ups effectively is crucial for maintaining a productive and disciplined workplace.

Why attendance write ups matter

Attendance write ups play a significant role in maintaining discipline and setting clear expectations for employee attendance.

When employees know that unexcused absences and poor attendance will result in an attendance write up, it encourages them to adhere to the company’s attendance policy.

This ensures that everyone understands the importance of regular attendance and the impact of their absences on other team members and overall team productivity.

Legal and organizational benefits

Proper documentation of employee attendance issues is essential for protecting the organization legally. An official attendance write up serves as a formal document that records the employee's behavior and the steps taken by the company to address it.

This can be crucial if further disciplinary actions are needed, or if there are disputes about the attendance records.

By keeping accurate and detailed attendance records, the company can ensure fair decision-making and demonstrate compliance with the company’s established policies.

Additionally, maintaining good attendance is vital for the smooth running of business operations. Consistent attendance problems can lead to missed deadlines, increased labor costs due to covering for absent employees, and decreased employee morale.

Therefore, a well-documented attendance write up not only helps in managing individual employee absences but also supports the overall health of the business.

By understanding the importance of attendance write ups and incorporating them into your company policy, you can foster a productive work environment and communicate expectations clearly to your team.

Understand common reasons for attendance issues

Understanding why employees have attendance issues can help managers address the root causes and support their team more effectively.

Personal or family illness

One of the most common reasons for employee absenteeism is personal or family illness. Employees might have to take sick leave or care for a sick family member, leading to unscheduled absences.

While occasional absences for illness are unavoidable, chronic issues might require a deeper look into the employee's health and possible accommodations.

Work-life balance challenges

Balancing work and personal life can be tough. Employees with young children, elderly parents, or other family responsibilities might struggle to meet scheduled shifts consistently.

Flexible scheduling or remote work options can help alleviate these attendance problems and foster employee engagement.

Workplace stress and burnout

High levels of workplace stress and burnout can lead to frequent tardiness and unexcused absences. Employees overwhelmed by their workload might start missing work to cope.

Addressing workload management and providing mental health resources can reduce these attendance issues and improve overall employee morale.

Job dissatisfaction

Employees who are dissatisfied with their job, whether due to their role, job title, or work environment, are more likely to have poor attendance.

Regular feedback sessions and creating a productive work environment can help identify and address job dissatisfaction, reducing attendance problems.

Transportation issues

Sometimes, external factors like transportation issues cause irregular attendance. Employees reliant on public transport or those with long commutes may face challenges that lead to unexcused absences. Offering transportation benefits or remote work options can help mitigate these attendance issues.

Personal problems

Personal problems such as financial difficulties, legal issues, or relationship troubles can affect an employee’s ability to maintain regular attendance.

Providing access to employee assistance programs (EAPs) can offer support and resources to help employees manage their personal problems.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse is a serious issue that can lead to excessive absenteeism and other performance problems. If substance abuse is suspected, it’s important to approach the situation delicately and offer support, such as access to counseling or rehabilitation programs.

By understanding these common reasons for attendance issues, managers can take proactive steps to support their employees and address the root causes of poor attendance.

This approach not only helps in managing attendance problems but also contributes to a healthier, more productive work environment.

Identify when to issue an attendance write up

Knowing when to issue an attendance write up is key to maintaining fair and consistent discipline in your workplace.

Recognize patterns of absenteeism

Before issuing an attendance write up, it’s important to identify consistent patterns of absenteeism. Look at the employee’s attendance record to see if there are recurring instances of unexcused absences, frequent tardiness, or excessive absenteeism.

Recognizing these patterns can help distinguish between a one-off situation and a more serious attendance issue that needs to be addressed. Monitoring these patterns ensures that you are responding to real problems and not just isolated incidents.

Differentiate between occasional and chronic issues

Distinguishing between occasional absences and chronic attendance issues is crucial. Occasional absences might be due to legitimate reasons like sick leave or unexpected emergencies, and these usually don’t warrant a formal write up.

However, ongoing attendance issues, such as repeated unexcused absences or chronic tardiness, indicate a more serious problem that impacts team productivity and overall employee morale.

It’s essential to handle each situation appropriately. For one-off absences, a verbal warning or a casual discussion might suffice. But for chronic attendance problems, a formal attendance write up is necessary.

This formal document not only records the employee’s behavior but also serves as a written warning that further disciplinary action might follow if the attendance issues persist. Always refer to your company's attendance policy and employee handbook to ensure your actions align with established guidelines and maintain fairness.

By identifying patterns and differentiating between types of absences, you can issue attendance write ups effectively and maintain a fair and productive work environment.

Prepare for writing an attendance write up

Before putting pen to paper, it's essential to gather all necessary information and ensure everything aligns with your company's attendance policies.

Gather all relevant information

The first step in preparing an attendance write up is to gather all relevant information. Start by reviewing the employee’s attendance record to identify any patterns of absenteeism or frequent tardiness. Look for any previous warnings, including verbal warnings or written reprimands, documented in the employee's personnel file.

It's also important to consider the employee's explanation for their absences. This helps provide context and ensures that any extenuating circumstances are taken into account. Collecting all this information will help you create a factual and comprehensive write up that addresses the specific attendance issues.

Review company policies

Next, review your company’s attendance policy and any relevant sections of the employee handbook. Make sure your write up aligns with the company’s established policies and procedures. This ensures that the attendance write up is fair and consistent with how other attendance issues have been handled.

It's important to communicate expectations clearly and ensure that the employee understands the consequences of ongoing attendance problems. Referring to the company policy will help you outline the steps for any further disciplinary action that might be necessary if the attendance issues persist.

By preparing thoroughly, you can create a clear and effective attendance write up that addresses the specific attendance problems and aligns with your company’s policies.

Write a clear and concise attendance write up

Crafting a clear and concise attendance write up is crucial for effectively communicating the attendance issues and the consequences to the employee.

Include key components

An effective attendance write up should include several key components. Start with the employee's name, job title, and the specific dates of the unexcused absences or frequent tardiness. Detail the specific incidents, including the dates and nature of the attendance issues, such as missed scheduled shifts or excessive absenteeism.

Clearly state the consequences of the attendance problems, whether it’s a written warning or further disciplinary action, like a performance improvement plan or potential termination. Mention any previous verbal warnings or formal documentation of attendance issues, ensuring the employee understands the pattern of behavior that led to this point.

Be factual and objective

When writing an attendance write up, it’s important to be factual and objective. Stick to the facts and avoid using emotional language or personal opinions. Describe the attendance issues as they are, without exaggeration or subjective commentary.

For instance, instead of saying “You are always late and unreliable,” state, “On the following dates, you were late: [list dates].” This approach ensures the write up is a formal document that can stand up to scrutiny if further disciplinary measures are necessary.

Objectivity also helps maintain professionalism and fairness, fostering a more constructive dialogue with the employee about their attendance problems.

By including these key components and maintaining a factual, objective tone, you can create a clear and effective attendance write up that addresses the issues and outlines the necessary steps for improvement.

Communicate the write up to the employee

serious dialogue at work between employee and manager

Delivering an attendance write up to an employee is a sensitive task that requires a thoughtful approach.

Hold a private meeting

It’s important to discuss the attendance write up in a private, respectful setting. Holding a private meeting ensures confidentiality and shows respect for the employee’s privacy.

This setting helps create a more open and honest conversation about the attendance issues without causing embarrassment or defensiveness. The goal is to communicate the attendance write up clearly and professionally, allowing the employee to understand the seriousness of the situation and the need for improvement.

Explain the contents and expectations

During the meeting, go through the attendance write up with the employee in detail. Explain the specific dates and incidents of poor attendance, referencing the gathered attendance records and any previous warnings documented in the personnel file.

Clearly outline the consequences of continued attendance problems, as stated in the company’s attendance policy and the write up itself. Make sure to communicate expectations for future behavior and attendance, so the employee knows exactly what is required to meet the company’s standards.

It’s also helpful to allow the employee to ask questions and provide any additional context or explanations for their absences. This can help in understanding any extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to the attendance issues.

Ensure the employee understands that this write up serves as a formal notice and a written warning that further disciplinary action may follow if the attendance problems persist.

End the meeting by having the employee acknowledge the write up, usually with their signature, indicating they have read and understood the contents and expectations.

By handling the communication of the attendance write up in a private and respectful manner, you help maintain a positive work environment and give the employee a clear path to meeting attendance expectations.

Follow up and monitor progress

Following up on an attendance write up is essential to ensure the employee understands the expectations and is making improvements.

Set a follow-up meeting

After issuing an attendance write up, it's crucial to schedule a follow-up meeting. This meeting should be set for a few weeks or months later, depending on the severity of the attendance issues. The purpose is to review the employee's attendance record and discuss any progress or ongoing attendance problems.

During this meeting, you can provide additional support, answer any questions the employee might have, and reiterate the importance of meeting attendance expectations. A follow-up meeting demonstrates that you are committed to helping the employee improve and are serious about maintaining good attendance.

Keep detailed records

Maintaining detailed records is vital for tracking the employee's progress and ensuring consistency in handling attendance issues. Document the initial attendance write up, including all relevant details such as dates of unexcused absences, previous verbal warnings, and any extenuating circumstances discussed. Record the outcomes of follow-up meetings and any further disciplinary action taken.

This documentation should be kept in the employee's personnel file as part of the company’s attendance policy.

Keeping accurate records helps protect the organization legally and ensures that all actions taken are fair and consistent with the company’s established policies. It also provides a clear trail of communication and actions taken, which can be useful if the attendance issues continue and further disciplinary measures are needed.

By setting a follow-up meeting and keeping detailed records, you can monitor the employee’s progress effectively and ensure that attendance problems are addressed promptly and fairly.

This approach not only supports the employee in improving their attendance but also helps maintain a productive work environment for everyone.


By understanding the importance of attendance write ups, identifying when to issue them, and preparing thoroughly, you can address attendance issues effectively.

It's crucial to gather all relevant information, review company policies, and write a clear and concise attendance write up that includes key components and remains factual and objective.

Communicating the write up to the employee in a private meeting and explaining the contents and expectations ensures they understand the seriousness of their attendance problems and the necessary steps for improvement.

Following up and monitoring progress through scheduled follow-up meetings and maintaining detailed records help reinforce the importance of good attendance and provide additional support if needed.

Understanding common reasons for attendance issues, such as personal or family illness, work-life balance challenges, workplace stress, and job dissatisfaction, allows managers to address underlying causes and support their team more effectively.

By taking these steps, you can manage employee attendance write ups professionally and fairly, contributing to a more productive work environment and better overall employee engagement.

Remember, the goal is not just to correct poor attendance but to foster an environment where employees feel supported and motivated to meet attendance expectations.

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Topic: Time-tracking / attendance write up