How many days are too many when employees have excuses for not being able to come into work.
Of 18 days, this female employee has been out of work for 5 of those days (calling the day of to notify us that she cannot make it) due to her son being sick and her not being able to come into work due to him not being able to go to day care.
Her frequent absence is affecting her performance and reliabilty. How many absences are too much?
The answer depends upon how many employees you have, and which state you are in. Many states require that employers give up to 12 weeks off to an employee with a medical problem, or a family member with a medical problem.
The federal FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more workers within 75 miles, and requires up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave.
Various states have family leave laws that require 4 or more weeks of unpaid leave.
If you are not covered by FMLA or a similar state law, then you may be entitled to discipline this employee. Even if you are covered by FMLA, it may not apply if the child has a series of minor illnesses like colds. In this case, you should handle the situation as you would any other employee with an attendance problem. Set an objective standard for attendance (perhaps 3 days missed every 6 months). If the employee is absent more than this, issue a written reprimand for each absence (not each day). Once the employee has 3 written reprimands, you can terminate her. (She will probably qualify for unemployment.)
Some states allow employees to use thier sick days when a child is sick. If you are not in one of those states, you could count these as unexcused absences. The real problem is that the parent does not have childcare for her son when he has a minor illness. Lack of childcare is usually not an excused absence. (Ideally every working parent would make backup childcare arrangements, perhaps with a private babysitter, for days when the child has a minor illness.)
If you are counting these as excused absences, just be sure that you are treating this employee the same as you would any other worker, to avoid discrimination.
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