Pitfalls of zero tolerance attendance policies

No tolerance could leave zero room to rule in employer’s favour
By Lorna Harris
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/24/2003

Lou Daniel had worked at Stelco Steel for 27 years with three very minor blemishes on his disciplinary record when he was dismissed for cheating on the steel mill’s attendance record-keeping system.

A periodic review by the payroll department of employees’ attendance reports showed Daniel had failed on many occasions to properly account for his time. He arrived late and left early without using his time card or notifying his supervisor. During a period of 206 days worked, there were 99 irregularities in Daniel’s attendance records. Where the other employees averaged only one “did not ring in” per year, he had racked up 30 during the 11 months of the audit of his records.

Daniel’s foreman had counselled him about his attendance obligations and knew he had a child whose disability required much care. As a result, the company had allowed him to vary his start time to enable him to look after his disabled son.