Excessive absenteeism is a term that describes an employee who is away from work too much. This can include actual absences, such as unauthorized personal days or an excessive number of sick days. It can also include repeated tardiness, frequent long lunches or recurring early departures. The amount of absence considered excessive varies by company, and most large corporations have formal policies that define what they consider to be excessive. Excessive absenteeism can have a severe impact on the job performed by the employee concerned, on his department and on the company as a whole.
A number of issues can arise from excessive absenteeism. These include reduced productivity on the part of the absent employee and, in many cases, customer dissatisfaction. Such absenteeism can also severely affect the morale of other employees, who are often forced to cover the duties of the absent employee and may resent having to work for someone who is repeatedly absent.
There are no absolute guidelines defining the number of days, hours or absences that create an excessive absenteeism situation. Each company generally sets its own rules in regard to absences. Some companies may quantify a specific number of days or absences that are considered excessive, while others may create less definitive rules. For example, one company could state that 30 days per year is excessive, while another might define excessive as a quantity of absences that significantly affects an employee's job function.
Many companies differentiate between excused absences and unexcused absences. Excused absences include those that are either approved in advance or qualify as excused absences under company policy. These types of absences are often paid under annual leave allowances, but employees may be excused for unpaid leave as well. Examples of excused absences can include bereavement time, pre-approved vacation days, valid sick time and jury duty leave.
Unexcused absences are those that are not considered allowable under company policy. This might include sick time of several consecutive days without a doctor's excuse and unapproved vacation days. In most cases, only unexcused absences can be said to contribute to excessive absenteeism.
Most companies have a disciplinary process for dealing with excessive absenteeism. This can include loss of pay, verbal or written reprimands, demotion and termination. These penalties are usually imposed in a specified order. For example, an employee who is excessively absent may first receive a verbal warning. If the absenteeism continues, a written reprimand may follow the warning and continued absenteeism may result in demotion or termination.