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LSA Attendance Guidelines

Applies to:               LSA Non-Instructional Staff
Related Policies:     
Date Issued:           
Date Revised:        
Owner:                     LSA Office of the Dean
Primary Contact:    LSA Human Resources

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts is the largest of the 19 schools and colleges at the University of Michigan.  Fulfilling our mission statement of achieving "...pre-eminence in creating preserving and applying knowledge and academic values, to enrich the lives of students, and to transform them into leaders and citizens who challenge the present and illuminate the future” requires the passion and commitment of over 1,500 faculty and nearly 1,000 staff, supporting 18,500 students in over 1,500 classes annually.

Providing optimal service to our colleagues, faculty, and students requires of each of us a commitment both to being at work when expected and putting forth our best effort.  At the same time, the University of Michigan has developed programs, such as generous sick time and vacation time programs to assist employees during times of personal need, whether to care for oneself, a family member, or to enjoy a well-earned vacation.  The University and the College recognize that the ability to successfully manage personal, family, and professional obligations is critical to the success of our staff.  Within the College, managers and supervisors are expected to maintain appropriate staffing levels to ensure optimal service throughout the year.

In support of these important objectives, the following information is provided as guidance to assist supervisors and managers with attendance management, inclusive of: the scheduling of vacations, absenteeism, tardiness, and excessive use of sick time.  It is the immediate supervisor’s responsibility, in conjunction with appropriate University resources such as LSA HR and Work Connections, to determine whether a specific absence should be excused or unexcused, and when disciplinary action is appropriate.  The University developed the Work Connections program to assist and support supervisors and employees when an employee experiences an illness or injury that results in extended absence from work.  Work Connections helps maintain the confidentiality of employee health issues by only releasing employee medical information on a need to know basis.  Work Connections also assists supervisors by communicating directly with employee health care providers rather than a supervisor needing to do so.  The LSA Dean’s Office requires the use of Work Connections for non-instructional employees who experience extended absences due to illness or injury.  

Unexcused absenteeism, tardiness, and excessive sick time usage create a serious problem.  Excessive absenteeism by even one employee in a unit may negatively impact the operation of the entire unit and cause an undue hardship on the rest of the employees.  Excessive absenteeism is an operational concern that must be dealt with promptly.

To assist supervisors in addressing and reducing absenteeism, the following general guidelines have been established for both excused and unexcused absences from work. For situations involving family care time (, the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or leaves of absence outlined in the University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide (, you are strongly advised to contact LSA HR.  It is further expected that managers and supervisors complete the following tutorial on the FMLA:

A.  Guidelines for Managing Excused Absences from Work Due to Illness or Injury

The University provides paid sick time based on employment status, length of service and prior usage.  This time is available to assist employees who are unable to work because of personal illness or injury, pregnancy, childbirth, or absence for preventative medical and dental care; or to provide for an incapacitated, ill or injured family member (see SPG 201.11 Sick Pay Plan for definition of family member  The use of short-term sick time is not interchangeable with vacation time.   Use of the full year’s allotment of sick time without appropriate documentation and approval is not an “entitlement” and is, in fact, a violation of University policy.

Preventive care: Absences due to preventative and/or follow up medical/dental appointments should be pre-approved and scheduled as to incur the least disruption to the work day.  Whenever possible, such absences (or appointments) should be scheduled at the beginning or end of an employee’s work shift.   These pre-approved absences are considered excused under short-term sick time as long as the employee has short-term sick time available.

Absences due to illness or injury: Excused sick time should be granted only when an employee is unable to work due to a personal sickness or injury or if an employee’s immediate family member is ill and the employee has sick time available. 

The number of occurrences of absenteeism within a specific period of time is one of the factors used to determine whether the employee’s attendance record is reasonable.  For purposes of these guidelines, with the exception of time off that is covered by the FMLA and planned, pre-approved preventative medical/dental appointments, each separate or distinct employee absence is defined as an “occurrence”.  An absence of two or more consecutive days is still considered to be one occurrence. 

In addition to the number of occurrences, patterns of absence should be reviewed (e.g. before or after an employee’s days off (including weekends), pay days, vacations, holidays). NOTE:  Although a supervisor has the right to request a physician’s statement at any time for absences due to illness or family care, common practice is that a supervisor should request a physician’s statement supporting the employee’s absence after an absence of 3 consecutive days.

The supervisor may request a physician's statement in support of an employee's absence in situations other than noted above as well.  In determining whether or not to require a physician's statement, units should consider patterns of absenteeism, length of absence, unit practice, and an employee's absenteeism history.  Should you have questions about whether to require a physician's statement, please consult with your unit’s LSA HR contact.

Use of excused sick time is not misconduct.  However, once a potentially excessive pattern of absences has been established, the supervisor may request a physician’s health evaluation to establish the employee’s ability to work on a regular basis.  Consult with LSA HR or the University HR office prior to requesting a physician’s health evaluation.




Up to 5 within 6 month period

Counsel the employee about his/her employment obligation of regular attendance.  Inform employee that if attendance does not improve, a physician’s statement may be required for each absence due to illness.  Document consultation in the employee’s departmental personnel file for future reference.

NOTE:  After each occurrence, always notify the employee directly if the absence is unexcused.  Unexcused absences are considered misconduct and cause for disciplinary action.  When an absence is paid, you must consider it excused.  Signing the time card (or approving electronically) allowing the absence to be coded as sick time is considered “approval” of the absence.

7 or more within
8 month period

Require the employee, in writing, to verify all future absences due to illness or family care with a physician’s statement.  In cases of extended absence due to an employee’s own illness or injury, the supervisor or employee should report the issue to Work Connections and all employee medical documentation should go to Work Connections. 

Again, counsel the employee about the necessity of regular attendance.  Consult with unit’s LSA HR contact for course of action. 

If employee does not bring in a physician’s statement, the absence is considered unexcused.  In consultation with the unit’s LSA HR contact write a memo to employee indicating that unexcused absence is considered misconduct and must be corrected.

8 or more within
9 month period

Require the employee, in writing, to have a general health evaluation by a physician. 

NOTE:  Consult with unit’s LSA HR contact.  Include Health Care Provider Report, located at  Supervisor should meet with employee to review absence record and expectations.

After receipt of Physician’s

If the physician’s statement indicates that the employee is unable to work, consult with unit’s LSA HR contact and Work Connections to determine the appropriate course of action.  Next steps may include placing the employee on short term or extended sick leave or on an unpaid medical leave of absence until such time as their medical problem can be corrected and regular attendance can be expected.  It may also be determined that a second opinion is needed (reference SPG 201.11, Sick Pay Plan

If the employee is able to work, consult with unit’s LSA HR contact to determine if a Sick Time Conference (see below) should be scheduled.

Sick Time

Supervisor, employee, and LSA HR staff meet to discuss employee’s pattern of absenteeism and employment obligation of regular attendance.  A sick time conference is followed up by confirming memo from supervisor to employee.

Should the
employee fail to correct excessive absenteeism

The employee may be terminated for failure to meet their employment obligation of maintaining regular attendance.  If this is warranted, contact unit’s LSA HR contact to schedule a Disciplinary Review Conference (DRC) prior to the termination. 

If any single occurrence of absence, or any combination of occurrences is excessive in length, contact unit’s LSA HR contact to determine if the outlined procedures should be modified.

B. Guidelines for Managing Unexcused Absences from Work

Unexcused absences from work are considered misconduct and cause for progressive disciplinary action.  Examples include: no call/no show, tardiness, or unapproved/unauthorized absences of one or more full day.   Please note that the supervisor’s signature on the time card (or approving electronically) allowing the absence to be coded as sick time is considered “approval” of the absence.

An occurrence is defined as any single occasion of unexcused absence.  Example:  If an employee reports to work late and left work without authorization during the same shift, it would be considered as two (2) occurrences.





Notify employee that the absence is unexcused.  Explain that unexcused absences are considered misconduct and are cause for disciplinary action.  Describe types of absences that are considered unexcused.  Document verbal consultation in the employee’s departmental personnel file for future reference. Do not sign the timecard or approve electronically as an excused absence.  Use the appropriate code for unexcused time without pay.


Notify employee that absence is unexcused and the reason. Explain that failure to correct the problem may subject the employee to disciplinary action.  Document verbal consultation in the employee’s departmental personnel file for future reference.


Consult with unit’s LSA HR contact regarding a written reprimand.  Notify employee in writing that absence is unexcused and immediate correction is necessary. 

Subsequent unexcused

Further progressive discipline up to and including discharge; consult with unit’s LSA HR contact.

(Reference: SPG 201.12, Discipline

C. Guidelines for Managing Vacation Use

Part-time employees regularly scheduled to work 20% (8 hours or more) per week, accrue vacation time on a proportionate basis. Employees regularly scheduled to work less than 20% (8 hours) per week do not accrue paid vacation. The College strongly encourages staff to take earned time off for rest and rejuvenation.  Managers and supervisors are strongly encouraged to regulate staff vacation balances at a level that will not place an undue financial hardship on a unit should a staff member terminate his/her position with the University.  A chart has been provided at the end of this section to assist units in identifying balances that best meets their circumstances.

Supervisors and managers are responsible for scheduling vacations to maintain optimal unit operations and service, as well as to enable eligible staff to use their vacation time each year.  While vacations should be scheduled to meet unit operational needs, every effort should be made to satisfy staff preferences as to dates.  In order to meet work requirements, units may establish specific periods of time during which vacation time is not permitted.  Additionally, units which experience “slack” or “down” periods may require that any vacations be taken during these times.  Unit vacation guidelines and timeframes should be communicated to staff as far in advance as possible. 

Vacation time must be approved by the staff member’s supervisor in advance of the time being taken.  The amount of time prior to the requested time off is up to the unit’s discretion.  For example, a unit may require that vacations be requested a minimum of one week prior to the desired time off. 

It is recommended that excused time without pay not be granted in lieu of vacation for staff that have exhausted all vacation unless exceptional circumstances are presented.  Supervisors are encouraged to discuss with the unit’s LSA HR contact prior to final decision being made.  Only in extenuating circumstances should excused time without pay be granted if a staff member has vacation time available. Units should consider seasonal leave arrangements as an alternative to excused time without pay where appropriate.

Reference SPG 201.64, Vacation

The Dean’s Office expects units to monitor vacation pay liabilities at the individual employee level as well as the overall departmental liability for vacation pay.


Accrual Rate

Maximum accrual

Suggested balance not to exceed

per Month

at 1.00 FTE


67% (2/3)


16 hrs





12 hrs





8 hrs





Employee payout if at maximum accrual:

Jane Doe  AR 8hrs    Research Lab Tech Assoc     $22,000 FTR  PO $2,031

John Smith AR 12 hrs Desktop Support Specialist $49,000 FTR PO$6,785

Jane Jones AR 16 hrs  Business Admin Lead       $88,000 FTR  PO $16,247

College-wide impact (900 employees) at minimum salary and vacation balance of 192 hours:  $22,000/2080=$10.58/hr, $10.58 x 192 x 900 = $1,828,224

NOTE: these figures represent salary only and do not take into account the cost of associated benefits (i.e. retirement contribution, etc.)



  • An employee is absent when s/he fails to report or remain at work as scheduled.
  • Absence includes all lost time from work, whether avoidable or unavoidable, such as:
    • tardiness at the beginning of the work period
    • extended lunch or rest periods
    • early departure from work or unauthorized absences during work hours, time off due to emergency (e.g. car trouble, plumbing, weather, etc.)


  • Excused absence, which includes:
    • approved scheduled days off
    • holidays
    • approved scheduled vacation time
    • jury duty
    • military service
    • leaves of absence
    • FMLA absence (
    • season days
    • approved tardiness
    • sick time, including:
      • approved time off for illness/injury
      • approved time off for preventive medical or dental care
      • approved family care time off
  • Unexcused absence, which includes:
    • no call-no show
    • tardiness without approval
    • undocumented illness/injury, when documentation is required
    • absence from the work area, including extended lunch or rest periods
    • leaving work early without supervisory approval

EXCESSIVE ABSENTEEISM (Failure to meet the employment obligation of maintaining regular attendance.)

  • Absenteeism becomes excessive when it has an adverse effect on the unit, disrupting its efficiency, productivity, and/or employee morale.
  • One absence may be considered excessive if it results in an adverse impact.
  • Excessive absenteeism is evident when there are many avoidable or unavoidable absences during work hours, and/or when there is a pattern of unscheduled time off, such as:
    • one day absences due to vague complaint of illness or injury
    • before or after scheduled days off
    • on or following pay days
    • absences occurring the same day of the week or month
    • absent when requested time off was not approved


  • Progressive discipline is used to correct employee behavior, including unexcused absences that disrupt the unit’s efficiency, productivity, and/or employee morale.
  • Progressive discipline is not generally used to correct behavior that has been excused by management.  Therefore, progressive discipline is often inappropriate for correction of excused absences.
  • Progressive discipline, when used to correct unexcused absences, usually involves the following:
    • verbal warning
    • written warning
    • occasionally repeat written warning, based on facts
  • The supervisor or manager is responsible for using the tool of progressive discipline in a consistent manner in the unit.
  • Ultimately, the failure to correct an attendance problem could result in the employee’s termination.

Much of the material in this document was taken directly from various University and College documents and websites.