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 reflect forthcoming voting protection amendments.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections in the forthcoming paid family and medical leave law.
Updated to include information on the amendments expanding protections for jurors, effective September 1, 2019.
Updated to reflect amendments to the Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act.
Updated to reflect the Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act and amendments under the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act, effective August 30, 2019.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the Wage Theft law, effective August 6, 2019.
Updated to reflect law restricting microchip implantation, effective July 24, 2019.
Updated to include amendment prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive health decisions, effective July 2, 2019.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections in the forthcoming Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments relating to the use of electronic smoking devices.