Overview: Employers have a vested interest in enforcing workplace attendance policies and addressing employee absences. When faced with an employee attendance issue, many employers choose to progressively discipline an employee for misconduct. However, in certain instances, employee discipline may pose greater liability for employers.
Specifically, employers with no-fault attendance policies may unwittingly discriminate against employees with legally-protected characteristics, such as employees with disabilities. In addition, enforcing attendance policies for conduct that may be protected under state leave laws may expose employers to regulatory fines and penalties. Employee leave entitlements vary by state, and may be more generous for public employees.
Notwithstanding particular leave entitlements, an employer may still enforce work rules when an employee abuses his or her leave. Proper recordkeeping practices can place employers in a better position when targeted in regulatory audits or when defending court claims with respect to employee leave protections.
Trends: Enforcement agencies have focused on various initiatives targeting employees with disabilities, employees with caregiving responsibilities and employees in the uniformed services and/or veterans. Employers should stay abreast of federal, state and local legal developments related to employee leave protections.
Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include retaliation protections in the forthcoming Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the forthcoming state paid sick leave law.
Updated to include forthcoming amendment regarding alcohol testing law.
Updated to reflect discipline provisions in forthcoming amendments to the Domestic Violence Leave Act.
Updated to include retaliation protections under the forthcoming Austin paid sick leave law.
Updated to include forthcoming Vermont recreational marijuana law.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the domestic violence leave law, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to include amendments to the Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to include retaliation protections with respect to child-bonding leave and whistleblowing at health facilities; and amendments to retaliation civil and administrative procedures, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to include amendments to laws related to firearms in the workplace, effective November 1, 2017.