Rigid attendance policies and practices have had disastrous consequences for far too many workers, who frequently face punishment for medical and caregiving absences that are protected by law. The effect of these policies has been especially brutal during the coronavirus pandemic, as workers who fear that an absence from work will cost them their jobs have shown up to work sick or been forced to leave children or loved ones without care. These policies are used by some of the nation’s biggest names in retail, meatpacking, and manufacturing – companies like Amazon, Walmart, Smithfield Foods, JBS, Tyson Foods, FedEx, and Boeing, to name just a few – and it is therefore critically important that workers understand their rights.
Under abusive attendance policies (frequently described as “no fault” attendance policies), workers are given “points” or “occurrences,” docked from a bank of time, or otherwise face consequences every time they miss work, arrive late, or leave early. When they reach a certain number of points they face discipline, often including termination. These policies are not inherently unlawful, but they are frequently used to punish workers for time off that they have a legal right to take, which is illegal – including, for instance, when workers receive points for paid sick time that is protected by law, or for pregnancy-related absences when they have a right to time off as a reasonable accommodation, or for absences that are protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
However, as we outlined in our June 2020 report, Misled & Misinformed, employers’ abusive attendance policies frequently fail to provide any information about workers’ rights to time off, leading far too many workers to believe they have no rights. Even worse, our report found that when employers’ attendance policies do provide information about workplace rights, it is often incomplete, misleading, or plainly wrong.
That’s why A Better Balance is dedicated to ensuring that workers covered by abusive attendance policies know their rights and can exercise them to protect their health without risking their economic security. Today we published a list of frequently asked questions to help workers understand whether they are subject to one of these policies and whether it violates the law, with links to additional resources to help them understand their leave rights. If you have questions about whether your rights are being violated by an abusive attendance policy, you can always reach out to A Better Balance’s free and confidential legal helpline for assistance.
We stand in solidarity with all workers struggling under #AbusiveAttendancePolicies, and we’re here to help.