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Safeguarding against excessive absenteeism

The state of California laws and federal laws ensure a wide range of employee entitlements. This includes the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as some of the most worker-friendly state laws in the country.

It makes it hard for even the most conscientious employers and HR professionals to know what they can and cannot do in regards to an employee who has too many unexcused absences from work. However, there are strategies for addressing the issue while remaining compliant with all applicable laws.

This starts, as do any policies regarding employees, with an employee handbook that outlines protocols for absences and the number allowed during a specific period of time. An employer or HR professional should also take great pains to ensure that they keep accurate records regarding absences and reasons for them.

Beckman vs. Wal-mart

The recent ruling of Beckman vs. Wal-mart illustrates how the employer can protect themselves. According to reports, the plaintiff in this case had 110 hours of unexcused absences. Per the employee handbook, the employee was notified in 2014 that any additional absences would result in dismissal. Unfortunately, the employee subsequently left early from two shifts and missed another week of work. Wal-mart dismissed the employee, who applied for FMLA two days later. The employee also later claimed that he was too disabled to work his current position as shipping loader, which would fall under auspices of ADA.

The courts rule

Although the case is more complicated than our short description, the courts ruled against the employee on all counts. The employee did not apply for FDLA before the absences. Moreover, the employee had no record of requesting a change of position.

Employers need to protect themselves

Wal-mart followed protocols outlined in its employee handbook. The HR staff also kept accurate records of the absences and the fact that they were unexcused. This helped the company build a strong case in its favor.

Attorneys can help small family-owned businesses as well as larger companies with HR departments in a variety of ways. This includes rules on unexcused absences that are compliant with all state and federal laws. They can also draft or update an employee handbook so that it clearly outlines all rules and protocols for both employees and the employer.

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