Availability for Work Policy

Policy Statement

All of Duke's entities, schools, and departments should establish guidelines and procedures regarding attendance, tardiness, scheduled and unscheduled time off, and the requisite notification procedures for requesting these periods of leave. These procedures should be communicated and discussed regularly with all staff.

All supervisors are responsible for approving time off, and both supervisors and staff are expected to work together to schedule periods of leave from Duke. If a staff member is unable to report to work because of illness or other causes, he or she must notify their supervisor according to department notification procedures. Staff must inform their supervisor prior to an expected absence or tardiness.

Policy Details

Scheduled Time Off

Definition: An absence for which the staff member has notified the supervisor in advance and has obtained approval to be away from or late to work.

  • Scheduled time off is preplanned with the supervisor in accordance with department or unit guidelines by negotiating for the least impact of the time off on the rest of the entity's workforce.

This form of time off includes absences such as vacations, holidays, personal days, medical or dental appointments, bereavement leaves, and military leaves and is understood as any absence from work that is authorized by the supervisor.

Unscheduled Time Off

Definition: Time away from work that is not approved in advance by a supervisor.

  • In the event that the staff member is absent for consecutive days of scheduled work due to sickness, injury or approved personal reasons, only the first day will be counted as an occurrence of unscheduled time off, if he or she arranged for the additional time off with the supervisor.
  • This form of absence is also understood as any unscheduled time off, no show, failure to report for or remain at work as scheduled without advance supervisory approval.
  • A staff member who reports to work after more than 50 percent of the shift has elapsed will be considered as having taken unscheduled time off.
  • An early departure from work before completing 50 percent of the shift is also considered as an unscheduled time off.

Unscheduled time off may be for a full shift and/or day, multiple shifts and/or days, or a portion of a shift and/or day.

Attendance Standards & Guidelines

Duke's standards for attendance include the following guidelines:

  • Staff must notify a supervisor and seek approval as early as possible when wishing to schedule time off from work - whether paid or unpaid. Scheduled time off is arranged at the mutual convenience of the department or unit and the staff member. It is also based upon the operational needs of the department or unit.
  • Staff will follow department guidelines for unscheduled time off. If a staff member is absent for three consecutive workdays without the notification or approval of a supervisor, the staff member's job will be considered as "abandoned" and his or her Duke employment will be terminated.

Excessive unscheduled absences will result in counseling and/or corrective action. Such staff may also face termination.


Duke defines "tardiness" as a staff member's absence from his or her workstation at the scheduled start time - such as at the beginning of the shift, when returning late from breaks, or early departures from work. Unless prior authorization has been received from the supervisor, tardiness also includes failure to report back to work or failure to remain at work during one's scheduled working time for that day.

Tardy Standards and Guidelines

Duke's standards for tardiness include the following conditions and guidelines:

  • If a staff member fails to report to the assigned work site at the scheduled time or departs early from work, he or she is considered "tardy." This applies to returning to work after breaks and meal periods.
  • Absence for greater than or equal to one-half of a staff member's shift becomes considered as "unscheduled time off."
  • Staff must notify their supervisor and follow department guidelines if they are aware that they will be late.
  • Excessive tardiness will result in counseling and/or corrective action and may be cause for termination.

With prior supervisor approval, staff may extend a normal workday to make up for a tardy.

Reporting Absences

Staff who are aware that they will be absent from work should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Staff should provide their supervisor with as much notice as possible of an absence so that the supervisor can make the necessary staffing adjustments. Based on staffing needs, each department or unit will create guidelines regarding the amount of advance notice required for an absence to be considered as "scheduled" and will set the proper notification procedures required for an unscheduled time off. These guidelines must be in writing and communicated to all staff.
  • When a staff member notifies his or her supervisor of an absence that is health related and involves hospitalization or any absence that is expected to last for more than three days, the supervisor should assess the situation for applicability of Family Medical Leave. (Please see Leaves of Absence for further information on this topic.) If appropriate, the supervisor should designate the leave as a "Family Medical Leave" and provide the staff member with information and forms to certify the absence as a "Family Medical Leave."

Unless they have made other arrangements with their supervisor(s), staff are required to call in each day during any period of absence (or according to their department's policy).

Corrective Action Guidelines

Supervisors should adhere to the following guidelines to ensure staff understand the attendance standards as well as the implications for not meeting those standards:

  • Supervisors should counsel staff (1) to ensure understanding of attendance standards, (2) to ensure that all staff understand notification guidelines, (3) to address any attendance issues, and (4) to affirm attendance expectations.
  • Once a threshold for unscheduled absences or tardies is reached, a staff member is subject to progressive corrective action - up to and including termination.

A staff member's failure to provide proper notification to his or her supervisor of an unscheduled time off (in accordance with department guidelines) will be considered as grounds for corrective action. This may also cause a staff member to go uncompensated for such an absence.

See Attendance Corrective Action Guidelines and 12-Month Rolling Period for more information.

Redemption Clause

If a staff member has no instances of unscheduled time off or tardiness in the six-month period following a formal corrective action for attendance, all previous attendance-related corrective actions (including any previously unscheduled absence and tardiness) will be removed from his or her department file. This is called the redemptive clause.

For example, if a staff member has a "Final Written Warning" for unscheduled time off and he or she does not have any additional instances of unscheduled time off during the six-month period, the corrective action will be removed. The same logic holds for a corrective action based on instances of tardiness. The corrective action and all occurrences will be removed.

Return to Duty

Staff returning to work following an absence due to illness may be required to provide a health care provider's certificate releasing the staff member to return to work.

Job Abandonment

Consecutive absences of three (or more) workdays will be considered as job abandonment and will result in voluntary termination if - prior to the end of the staff member's third scheduled work day - the staff member does not contact his or her supervisor (or department) in accordance with department procedures.

Policy Number: 09.02


Time Away From Duke Policy