​To reach goals, everyone on the team must be working together, and contributing to the team’s success. One basic ingredient to success is to ensure that staff are consistently attending work. As an administrator or supervisor, you can positively, proactively and consistently encourage this by communicating, keeping records to spot trends or trouble spots, and promoting health and wellness with your staff.

General Information
Keep records of all employees’ attendance, including sick leave, medical and dental appointments, and vacation days. Here are examples of what you can use: Attendance Monthly Record Form and Attendance Yearly Calendar with instructions on how to fill out the forms.

Generally, assume absences are legitimate, unless there is proof otherwise. Doctor’s notes are requested for illnesses over five days, or if there is a question about the illness. Where an employee is regularly away from the workplace and their attendance is beyond the average for your unit, speak with the employee about his/ her attendance record and the existing concerns.

Health, wellness and safety are also important in the workplace. Ensure staff take scheduled breaks, follow safety procedures, and encourage participation in health and wellness initiatives. More information is available in the Working Environment Section Attendance Management.

Our success as a University depends on the contributions made by our employees. Regular employee attendance is an essential part of this. The University is committed to fostering a culture of regular attendance, and promoting health and wellness among our staff.

Excessive absenteeism results in a detrimental impact to the University’s operations, such as a reduction in the quality and timeliness of services or production, and an increase of workflow to colleagues and financial cost. Absenteeism will have varying impacts on operations across departments and positions. The consistent and appropriate evaluation of absenteeism by management is essential in order to implement and maintain a successful Attendance Management Program.

Attendance Management Program

The Attendance Management Program is in place for CUPE 2950 staff and principles of the program can be applied to all staff, no matter the employment group. Managing employee absenteeism can be complicated. HR Advisors are available to guide managers through these absenteeism issues and make the necessary referrals to specialists and experts, as required.  In order to administer thisprogram, it is first important to understand the difference between culpable and non-culpable absenteeism.  


Non-culpable absenteeism is typically an absence resulting from disability, injury, illness, or another legitimate health reason.
Examples include:

  • Sick leave (paid or unpaid)
  • Injury leave (WorkSafeBC)
  • Other absences attributable to illness or injury 

The term “non-culpable” means that the employee’s absence is not blameworthy. Therefore, the response from management is non-disciplinary. 


In contrast, culpable conduct involves employee fault or wrongdoing. Examples of culpable issues in absenteeism may include:

  • Failure to report to work or follow the established call-in procedures
  • Sick leave fraud
  • Falsification of time records
The Attendance Management Program is strictly for non-culpable absenteeism.

Attendance Management Process

Proper data management is the keystone for this entire program and the success of this Program depends upon the consistent application of these administrative steps. The following steps are designed to identify and formally address excessive problem absenteeism.

Summary (details below):

  • STEP 1: Review Records and Identify Problem Absenteeism  
  • A. Compile the absentee record for each employee
    B. Initial threshold point for inclusion in the Program
    C. Consider the record of each employee on the list, and determine whether that employee should be placed in the Program

  • STEP 2: Absenteeism Meetings 
  • STEP 3: Duty to Inquire
  • STEP 4: Assessing ​the Employment Relationship

STEP 1: Review Records and Identify Problem Absenteeism

A. Compile the absentee record for each employee.
For each employee, identify:
  • All absences (paid or unpaid) due to illness or injury regardless of cause.
  • All injury on duty or WorkSafeBC leave.
  • Any other unplanned, unscheduled absence or leave (e.g., absence without leave, failure to report to work, absence to care for family members, personal emergencies).
This will form the employee’s record of non-culpable absenteeism for this Program. In compiling this record, ensure the information is accurate, current and consistent.
Examples of absences not included in this record are:
  • Scheduled vacation.
  • Maternity, adoption or parental leave.
  • Approved absence for Union business.
  • Compassionate leave.
B. Initial threshold point for inclusion in the Program

The next step in the Program is to compile a list of employees who, based on their attendance statistics, may be candidates for the Attendance Management Program.  

It is important to note that the Attendance Management Program is a formal Program intended to formally document poor attendance and seek improvement in the attendance of individual employees, but in a manner that is consistent. Therefore there must be a threshold for inclusion in the Program for all employees. This Program is only intended to deal with employees who have absentee issues beyond the threshold. 

The Absentee Threshold
These Guidelines incorporate a two-pronged approach. An employee may be included in the threshold group for review where, in the preceding year, the employee has been absent:
  1. for 12 or more days; OR
  2. at a rate exceeding the annual departmental average
If an employee does not meet this threshold, but you have concerns with respect to their attendance, please contact your HR Advisor. When determining whether to meet with an employee under this Program – please consult with your HR Advisor as needed.
C. Consider the record of each employee on the list, and determine whether that employee should be placed in the Program

Measuring whether there is “excessive absenteeism” in each case. Not all non-culpable absenteeism is the same.

Key criteria in evaluating absenteeism include:

  • The duration of absences (short, intermittent versus longer term)
  • The frequency (i.e. the number of separate occurrences)
  • The predictability (i.e. whether planned or unplanned) 
The number of incidents, and the duration of each are important considerations. Questions to consider in assessing each record include:
  • How many times, days, and for what reason has the employee been absent?
  • Is the problem recent, can it be traced to a particular change in the employee’s circumstances?
  • Are the absences of short duration with no medical attention?
  • Are the absences due to family responsibilities?
  • Is there a solution that will likely enable the employee to maintain regular attendance in the foreseeable future?
  • Has the employee identified a chronic underlying condition (i.e. a disability)?
  • Has the employee identified a need for accommodation of a disability or other condition? (Discuss with your HR Advisor) 

Please contact your HR Advisor for advice or guidance as to whether a particular employee has “problem attendance” and/or should be moved to the next step of the Program.

STEP 2: Absenteeism Meetings

If a review of the record does disclose problem absenteeism (as discussed above) the employee is required to attend a meeting. Send a list of proposed meetings to the Union before arranging the meeting. Present at this meeting is a union representative, as well as a second management representative who will document the discussion. The employee must attend with their union representative.

Managers must get their HR Advisor involved at this stage.
A meeting is divided into four sections:
1) Review of absences and impact
  • The manager confirms that this is a non-disciplinary meeting.
  • The manager reviews the attendance record with the employee, confirming the total number of days absent, the number of occasions, and the type of leave taken.
  • Explains the detrimental impact on operations given the nature of the work the employee performs.
  • The tone of this message is non-disciplinary.
2) Understanding
  • Through this discussion with the employee, the manager seeks to understand the reasons for the absences.
  • It is important to explore workplace or personal factors that impede the employee from regularly reporting for work.
  • It is important to emphasize that we are not challenging their right to use the sick leave provision for a legitimate absence due to illness or injury.
3) Moving forward: Prognosis and Monitoring
  • The employee and manager discuss the prognosis for regular attendance and respective responsibilities and commitments.
  • The manager reminds the employee about programs and supports in place to promote wellness at the University, including the Employee and Family Assistance (EFAP) Program.
  • The employee is informed that 1) his/her attendance will be monitored, 2) a significant and sustained improvement in their attendance is required, and
  • 3) if such improvement does not occur the employee will move to the next step of the Program.
4) Documenting the Discussion
  • After the meeting, a letter is normally issued to the employee, with copies to the Union, Human Resources, and the personnel file.
  • Templates are available so please consult with your HR Advisor.

A subsequent meeting or second meeting should not automatically or necessarily be held. If, however, the required improvement in attendance does not occur, a second and third meeting may be necessary and appropriate. These subsequent meetings will adopt a similar approach to the first meeting. 

STEP 3: Duty ​to Inquire
  • There may be an employee whose excessive absenteeism is related to a specific medical condition or injury.
  • Where greater clarity is required, additional medical information may be requested from the employee to ensure the University can properly assess next steps, including any possible duty to accommodate.
  • Please consult with your HR Advisor regarding next steps.  
STEP 4: Assessing the​ Employment Relationship

The aim of this Program is to assist as many employees as possible in returning to an acceptable level of regular attendance. However, in some cases this will not occur.

Where the review process does not result in an acceptable level of improvement in attendance, the University must assess the viability of continuing the employment relationship. The relevant questions are:

  • Whether the employee has had an excessive absenteeism record over a sustained period of time.
  • Whether there is any reasonable likelihood that the employee will be able to achieve an acceptable level of attendance (i.e. the prognosis).
  • Whether a duty to accommodate (to the point of undue hardship) exists.
Con​sultation with your HR Advisor must occur at this stage.
More information on the development of the Attendance Management Program is available on the UBC HR website.  Also see Attendance Management FAQs.