No one goes into ministry with the desire to track employee attendance. Much less create a church employee attendance policy!
However, having employees who show up for work, on time, is imperative for a church to be able to achieve its mission.
Life happens to all of us – we get sick, a loved one needs us, cars break down, weather interrupts a commute and the list goes on and on.
So how do we best navigate the issues associated with managing employees and ensuring they are there when needed to get the job done?
What I have learned is that employees come from a variety of backgrounds. This diversity in life experience results in different responses to the work environment.
For instance, if your church hires someone who has worked for a large company, chances are that employee will have had the experience of being held accountable for their attendance.
However, if your church hires someone who is young, inexperienced or perhaps someone who was self employed – their response to a work schedule may be very different.
Unfortunately for those who manage, there is typically one person who is a chronic abuser of the grace you allow and then you need to write policy.
Like I said, no one goes into ministry with the dream of writing policies for employees. But as your church grows, these policies and procedures become an important part of how employees are managed.
4 Ways You Know Its Time To Create An Attendance Policy
1. Employees Ask Questions About Attendance
Some employees will ask about expectations for attendance and tardiness. They might ask about the process to take a paid time off day or what to do if their child gets sick.
These kinds of employees are valuable because they verbalize what other employees may be wondering but may not be comfortable asking.
When employees start asking, it is time to think about how your church wants to handle these issues and write it down.
The reason you want to write down your response to an employee’s question, is because you need to make sure you offer the same answer if another employee asks the same question.
For instance, if you have an employee who asks you what they should do if their child is sick and they can’t come to work – you want to be able to offer the same response to another employee who has the same issue.
You might suggest they take a PTO day and simply notify their immediate supervisor as soon as possible of their need to be home with their child.
What you don’t want to do is simply tell them not to come to work without clarifying how that missed time will be accounted for.
2. An Employee Misses A Lot Of Work
One of the most difficult things about managing church employees is we are expected to show compassion for people – which we all want to do.
However, there are employees who will take advantage of that grace. They will not show up for work, come in late or sneak out of the office early.
When a pattern of any of these behaviors begins to form, it is time to act.
3. Your Church Provides Paid Time Off Benefits
If your church has the resources to pay employees when they are not working – that is a great thing. Not every church can afford this.
However once you begin offering employee benefits that include vacation, sick or paid time off, it is important to set expectations for using those benefits.
For instance, most churches require employees to be available during church services. Attendance for these crucial hours is imperative to the operation of the ministry.
4. Your Personnel Committee Is Creating An Employee Manual
Creating an employee manual is a labor intensive job. And the bigger your church, the more employees you hire it becomes an important part of managing church staff.
The first step in creating an employee manual, is defining all policies and procedures that impact church staff.
Regardless, the process begins with making a list of employee benefits, expectations for employee behaviors (attendance) and defining the process and procedure to access benefits.
It also clarifies how the ministry will manage, correct and terminate (when necessary) employees.
Writing policies clarifies the goal and intentions of the church as well as communicates very clear expectations for staff.
What Should An Attendance Policy Include?
An attendance policy should have a purpose, be specific and easy to understand.
For instance it is important to define what an absence is. How being late (tardy) is defined and what the boundaries are for those behaviors.
It should explain the process for missing work and how the church will hold staff accountable for not adhering to the policy.
Churches would not exist without a committed staff. Part of that commitment is simply showing up for work. Take the time and talk to your leadership team to see if perhaps your church is ready for an attendance policy.
We do include an attendance policy in our library of job descriptions and forms. You can access that here.