<p>CHICAGO – Perfect attendance is such a virtue at Lawson Products that employees who go a year without missing work or arriving late are rewarded with extra paid days off.</p>
<p>But for some, there's a downside. At the distributor's warehouse and customer service center in Addison, Ill., there are no excuses for missing work unless time off is scheduled in advance. Any unplanned absence, whether for illness, a flat tire or family emergency, is a black mark.</p>
<p>Punching in one minute late earns half a point. Missing one to two hours merits one point. A full day adds two points.</p>
<p>Six points results in a reprimand; 10 points, suspension without pay. Employees can be fired if they exceed 12 points within a year.</p>
<p>Such "no-fault" attendance programs, which run counter to the trend toward more family-friendly approaches, are migrating from factories and warehouses to white-collar workplaces as employers try to standardize discipline and wrest greater control over workers' schedules.</p>
<p>No-fault policies eliminate judgments about whether an absence could have been avoided. Instead, they draw a strict line between planned and unplanned time off. Typically, no more than six unscheduled absences
are tolerated within a year, although multiday illnesses count as one "occurrence."</p>
<p>Those with paid days off for illness or emergencies still get paid, but these unplanned absences count against their attendance records.</p>
<p>"It's kind of like three strikes and you're out," said George Faulkner, absence management practice leader at Mercer Human Resource Consulting. "We try to tell employers, you have to give employees some
kind of flexibility here."</p>
<p>Strict proponents take a different view.</p>
<p>"When management says, 'We're going to give you an opportunity to fire yourself,' people understand that," said Gene Levine, a California-based consultant. "You decide how many times you want to be absent, and you begin to count down to termination."</p>
<p>Levine described his approach at a company that was unhappy about having to fire an employee after she missed work because of her grandmother's death.</p>
<p>"In each of the absences you had before, was there any one you could have avoided?" Levine recalled asking the woman.</p>
<p>She acknowledged one, he said.</p>
<p>"We're not firing you because of your grandmother but because of that date," he told her. "After that, absenteeism dropped because people said, 'If they can let this person go, they're serious.' "</p></i>
I doubt he'll read this… but Mr. Levine, I want you to do me a favor. Scratch that… I want you to do yourself a favor.
Go home to your wife, your kids, your parents. Tell them they're irrelevant. Tell them your job is more important. Tell them that you'd rather save your career than help them.
If you can't do that… then I want you to sit down, and realize <b>that is exactly what you are telling your employees to do</b>. Think on that. If this truly does not bother you… then I weep for humanity, as you are obviously one of its first casualties.