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Zero Time Tolerance Policy Makes Employees (Really) Unhappy

What’s your company policy when it comes to time tolerance? If you don’t know this, please check your Employee Handbook or talk to your HR person because as a rule of thumb, you should be aware of the rules and policy of your company. However, if you company has not established any rules or policy on time tolerance, it’s time to get cracking because it is THE monitoring tool to curb indiscipline in your workforce. In other words, determine the formula in time management so everyone is evaluated at a level playing field.

Nonetheless, while drafting this policy, a company should avoid being overly stringent in their time management because of one very apparent human factor. A superior could always say “The work time starts at 9 so I don’t care what drama revolves around you, you need to get here on time at 9:00 or you are considered late”, but considerations have to be evaluated in separate cases. The policy could be airtight and help save the company a few extra dollars but would that benefit the company in a long run? One has to consider the excuse of the tardiness no matter how cliché and trivial it may sound.

Traffic jam, oversleeping, sending kids to school, dropping kids somewhere, dropping by the pharmacy are probably the most popular answers. When this happens, you should look at the pattern, is it repetitive or it is a one-time thing?  Not all rules apply to all employees and employer can’t win it all. Hence, while time is expensive and really valuable, one needs to find balance and tolerance in managing employee’s time.


The drafted policy must not only contain some flexibility but it also must provide clear indication of the duration marked as tardiness or/and absence. The policy also needs to present remedies to curb the situation. Every staff must be made clear of what they are given leeway of and what are not. For example, a definition of absence in a company is “absence from work for as long as 3 hours without the knowledge of your immediate superior”, and tardiness means “arriving to work 15 minutes late than the official check in time”. The flexibility or the tolerance can be adjusted accordingly but by having no tolerance during clock in and clock out would involve more instances of non-compliance from the staff than necessary and leave a bad taste in their mouths about the company, which could reduce the morale collectively.

The policy must also quantify the occurrences and provide a plan of action to salvage the situation. For example, if absence is considered as 1 and tardy is considered as 0.5, a count of 6 in 6 month’s demands for a counseling session. If the situation does not improve and similar occurrence happens in the next 6 months, perhaps verbal advice should be offered followed by a warning letter etc.  It’s the duty of the employer to come up with a rather flexible yet clear policy and remedy to tackle issues in time management. Another factor to look at is the nature of the business. Does the tardiness cost the company a lot of money literally for example to run a production line or to start shooting a movie or the time lost could be replaceable? Hence, time tolerance has to be adjusted to suit the company.

Accomplishing this, it is vital that a company is equipped with a reliable Time Management System to record and save the time of each employee for analysis. The most trustworthy system to date is the Biometric system that captures the attendance of a person through Biometric features such as fingerprint and face recognition. The time recorded must be precise and reliable but most importantly it should comply with the rules and policy of the company, besides providing up up-to-date instant reports on subject at hand.

Time in business is undeniably valuable but a slight time tolerance given to employee will go a long way in keeping that healthy culture and work environment.

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