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Chapter 6: Attendance & Work Schedules

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Work hours and schedules vary throughout the College, depending upon the services provided by each area. As part of your orientation, you and your supervisor should discuss your normal work schedule requirements.

Supervisors establish and inform staff members of specific work schedules, including normal start times, break times, meal schedules, and ending times. Your supervisor has the authority to adjust work schedules to meet the operating needs of your department. This might include changing the schedule, requiring overtime, or reducing work hours.

When your work schedule must be changed, your supervisor will give you as much advance notice as possible, so you can make personal arrangements to meet the new scheduling requirements. The operating requirements of the department must be the primary consideration in establishing work schedules and requiring overtime. However, supervisors are expected to consider the personal needs of staff as well in making such decisions.

Staff members at Swarthmore work a wide variety of work schedules, including evening and night shifts. Most staff members work a regular schedule, which may vary up to ten hours per day. Each department will establish their own schedules and will inform staff what days you are scheduled to work.


It is expected and important that you maintain a practice of reliable, consistent attendance at all times. If an eligible staff member must be absent due to a reasons covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), such absences may not be counted in considering disciplinary action due to excessive absenteeism.


Calling in Late or Absent

If you must be late or miss work due to an unscheduled absence, call your supervisor as soon as possible. This allows time for your supervisor to adjust the department's work assignments that day to compensate for your absence.

It is expected that you will contact your supervisor as soon as possible prior to your scheduled start if you are going to be late or absent. Please reference departmental call out procedures for additional information. The only exception to this policy is in the case of unforeseeable emergencies.

As an employee, you are responsible for contacting your supervisor directly. Relatives or friends should not call on your behalf unless you are medically unable to do so yourself. You must speak directly with your supervisor rather than a coworker, unless that individual is officially authorized by your department to accept call in notices.

If you have an absence that lasts for more than one day, you should call each day according to your department's policy, unless you make alternate arrangements in advance with your supervisor.

Failure to notify your supervisor according to established departmental policies when you will be absent or late may result in disciplinary action.

If you are absent for three consecutive scheduled workdays without notifying and receiving approval from your supervisor, the College will consider you to have abandoned your position without proper notice and will terminate your employment, effective your last day of work.


Department Attendance Policies

Departments may have policies that explain the expectations about attendance and tardiness. You are responsible for knowing your department's attendance guidelines. Excessive occurrences of absence for reasons other than those covered under FMLA may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including possible termination of employment.

A staff member who is often absent or tardy, who frequently asks to leave work early, or who displays a pattern of attendance problems, (e.g., often absent or late on Mondays and/or Fridays), or has a disproportionate pattern of "emergency" absence requests, may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.


Medical Documentation

If you have a medical related absence lasting 3 or more days, you may be required to submit a doctor's note or equivalent medical documentation before you will be paid sick time. Please check with your department regarding any specific policies related to medical documentation for time missed due to illness.

Medical documentation must specifically verify that you were treated for an illness or injury and are unable to work, before the use of sick time will be authorized. The College may require a second medical opinion, if necessary.


Medical and Dental Appointments

Whenever possible, medical and dental appointments should be scheduled for yourself and your family outside of your normal work schedule. If you need to miss work for a scheduled medical or dental appointment, let your supervisor know in advance. Please consult the relevant departmental policies for additional information.


Absences due to Serious Health Conditions

Absences due to a serious health condition, whether the absence is continuous or intermittent, may be covered by the FMLA. Short term absences for medical reasons, such as the flu or a sprained ankle, are generally not considered to be serious health conditions and are not covered under the FMLA.


Non Medical Absences

Supervisors will make every effort to accommodate such infrequent requests by allowing you to use accrued vacation time. Some absences for non-medical reasons may be covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act.

Absences due to things such as incarceration for conviction of a crime are not considered authorized time off and such an absence of three days or more may result in termination of your employment.


Leaving the Work Place

Once you have begun your work shift, you should not leave your unit except for authorized reasons. If you must leave your work area for personal reasons, first get your supervisor's permission and remember to clock out or record the time away on your timesheet.

If you cannot be found by your supervisor and have not received permission to be away from the work area, it may be considered unauthorized absence from the worksite and is subject to disciplinary action. If you leave your work area and do not appropriately record the time away on your time records, it may constitute falsification of time records and be subject to disciplinary action.


Severe Weather or Other Emergencies

As a residential campus, Swarthmore College does not close completely during extreme weather or other emergency situations. When our students are present, a certain level of essential services must be provided regardless of the circumstances.

When severe weather or a similar circumstance occurs, the College will attempt to maintain full service levels during both the weekday and weekend schedule. Unless the College formally cancels activities (see next section), all offices and service operations are expected to remain open with at least core staffing. In such circumstances, however, supervisors may make judgment calls about whether a specific individual's presence outweighs safety concerns (e.g., travel risks) or other factors. If a supervisor and non‑exempt employee agree that the employee need not report to campus that day, there are three options regarding pay:

  • the employee may make up the time within the same work week,
  • if needed the employee may use accrued vacation time,
  • if available the employee may take time off without pay, if no vacation time is available

Note: Employees choosing to take a vacation day or day without pay are not eligible for administrative leave. Employees who decide to leave early before the College closes are not entitled to administrative leave.

On rare occasions it may be prudent for the College to open late or to formally cancel most public events and administrative activities for the day. In such situations, the decision will be announced to the public media as a "late opening" or a "closing," even though the College is not entirely closed and some staff will be required to report for work. Classes may be in session, even if other public or administrative activities are canceled for the day.

Responsibility for the decision to formally cancel College activities (or open late) rests jointly with the vice president for Human Resources and the vice president for Facilities and Services. Whenever possible, the decision to "close" or "open late" will be made no later than 6:00 a.m. and be communicated via public media. You may call the Campus Emergency Hotline (610-328‑8228), listen to KYW Radio (1060 AM; Swarthmore's number is 1219 and will be listed in Delaware County) or check the College's web site at Environmental Services has a separate notification process. If you are in this department, please check with your supervisor.

Determining which employees are required to report to or remain on campus when activities have been formally canceled will depend on the specifics of the circumstances. However, it is generally expected that some (if not all) employees of Maintenance, Grounds, Public Safety, Dining, and Information Technology Services will be required to work in order to ensure essential services. In addition, other employees may be required to report to campus as needed. It is the responsibility of the department head in conjunction with their Vice President to determine which services are essential. Human Resources can be consulted for assistance in making this determination.

Employees who are required to report must make all necessary arrangements to do so. Failure to report when required may result in disciplinary action. For its part, the College will make efforts to facilitate and accommodate such required personnel as it deems appropriate; for example, the College may attempt to provide transportation or sleeping accommodations during weather emergencies. If you are not required to work, you should not report to work or remain on campus without agreement from your supervisor; to do so may result in disciplinary action.

If the College formally cancels activities for all or any portion of an employee's standard work shift either before or after the start of their work shift, the regularly scheduled work hours missed by non-exempt staff will be paid as "administrative leave" time in accordance with each employees’ regular work schedule. Such paid administrative leave time does not count as hours worked for the purpose of calculating overtime. Any such time should be reported as "Admin Leave" on time records of non-exempt employees. Exempt employees are eligible for administrative leave and this can be noted in department's attendance records but does not need to be reported with the monthly exception reports to payroll. On those occasions when the College opens late or closes early, employees who, with their supervisor's approval, choose not to report to work for their entire work shift will not receive administrative leave.

Employees who are required to work on a day when the College has formally canceled activities will be compensated for all time worked, in accordance with current College pay policies. In addition, non-exempt employees will receive administrative leave, in accordance with the employees’ regular work schedule as appropriate, calculated from the time the College officially closes. The administrative leave can either be taken within the same pay period as earned or the next one or the employee can receive administrative pay. If an employee is unable to take the administrative leave within the same pay period or the next one, the employee will be paid for the time in the following pay period. Such paid administrative leave time (or administrative pay in lieu of leave) does not count as hours worked for the purpose of calculating overtime during the week taken.

No formal adjustments are made to the pay of exempt staff for partial day absences, with the expectation that any missed work is made up during the course of the individual's subsequent schedule. Student and temporary employees are not eligible for administrative leave, compensating time off, or administrative pay.


Access to Offices Outside of Scheduled Work Hours

As a community, we encourage participation in a wide variety of activities the College has to offer outside of regularly scheduled office hours. Overtime eligible (non-exempt) staff members must seek approval in advance from their supervisor to adjust their work schedules and to work overtime hours. Overtime eligible staff members must be paid for all time worked. Changing your work schedule without supervisor’s approval may be grounds for disciplinary action.


Meal Breaks

The College provides an unpaid meal break of no less than 30 minutes for all shifts of seven consecutive hours or more. Your supervisor will work with you to schedule the actual time and length of your meal period based on the needs of the department.

During a meal break, you are relieved of all duties and you are encouraged to leave your immediate work area. Time spent during meal breaks is unpaid. Meal breaks may not be saved or used to compensate for tardiness or for leaving early.

Non-exempt staff members who are required by their department to participate in meetings over the lunch period must be compensated for that time.


Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Swarthmore is committed to supporting mothers with a nursing child to provide their child with all the health benefits of breastfeeding. The College must provide a private location for the purpose of expressing milk that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and others.

Employees will be permitted a reasonable work break each time it is necessary to express milk. It is expected that the break times would not exceed the normal time allowed for breaks and lunch daily. For the non-exempt employee, the breaks will be unpaid unless they coincide with a regular paid break.

The College may provide a private office, conference room, or unused classroom as an appropriate space for nursing mothers. To make arrangements for reserving such a space, you should contact Human Resources Office at ext. 5793.

Swarthmore Remote and Hybrid Work Policy

As a residential liberal arts institution, Swarthmore College values a vibrant community for learning, living and working. For some departments, incorporating remote and hybrid work into the operations of the department can be an effective and productive tool for meeting goals and objectives in accordance with the mission of the College. It also may be a way to address college-wide goals, such as our commitment to sustainability. As such, departments may consider remote or hybrid work that enables eligible staff members to perform their work effectively. Remote or hybrid work will be granted to departments when it is feasible, provided that services are available to community members during regular hours of business.

Remote and hybrid work should enable, and in some cases improve, department efficiency and productivity. In order to incorporate remote or hybrid work into department operations, department managers will be expected to consult with various campus partners, and receive approval from their President’s staff member and Human Resources. This policy applies to work performed by regular staff members. It does not apply to: 

  • Temporary or on-call employees
  • Faculty and other instructional staff
  • Student workers

Unless specifically approved by Human Resources, remote and hybrid work does not change the terms and conditions of employment. New remote and hybrid work arrangements will be allowed at the College’s discretion only in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland and can be altered or ended at any time. Employees must remain available to attend on-campus work, meetings, events, etc. as determined by the supervisor. 


  • Remote: work that is regularly performed by a staff member, unit, or department off campus with only occasional visits to campus for limited tasks, such as to pick up supplies and mail, or to attend occasional in-person meetings, retreats, trainings, and/or other activities and events as determined by the supervisor.
  • Hybrid: work that is regularly performed by a staff member, unit, or department on campus and remote. 
  • On-Campus: work that is regularly performed by a staff member, unit, or department on campus. Occasional, remote work may be allowed with prior approval of the supervisor.

This policy will not apply to temporary remote or hybrid work arrangements that only exist for a limited time period of less than two weeks.


Pursuant to College guidelines, managers who opt to incorporate regular and ongoing remote and hybrid work for their department will be required to develop a plan that details how work effectiveness will be achieved and maintained. Managers are encouraged to review their institutional effectiveness mission, goals, and objectives when developing a remote and hybrid work plan. Managers will be expected to consult with various campus partners when making decisions about the suitability of remote or hybrid work, and their decisions must be approved by the area president’s staff member.

All remote and hybrid work arrangements must adhere to this Policy and these Guidelines

Human Resources is available to assist supervisors with their planning for remote and hybrid work. Additionally: 

  • Pre-authorization of a remote or hybrid work plan for any out-of-state employees must be reviewed and approved by Human Resources (upon review and consultation with Payroll and the General Counsel’s office). 
  • New remote work outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland will not be allowed
  • Remote work from international locations will not be allowed.
  • Supervisors and managers will promptly notify HR of any schedule or remote work location changes.


Managers must periodically assess the success of remote and hybrid operations and employee performance. When warranted, timely changes should be made to the remote and hybrid work plan in consultation with Human Resources and your president’s staff member. At a minimum, a review of remote and hybrid operations must take place annually. 

A remote and hybrid work arrangement may be revoked at any time if it is determined to be in the best interest of the department or College. 


Staff members must show the following in order to be eligible to perform remote or hybrid work:

  • Maintains the expected quantity and quality of work while working in a remote or hybrid setting, as determined by the manager.
  • Contributes to the department maintaining a high quality of service for students, faculty and other members of the College community.
  • Maintains regularly scheduled work hours and can be fully accessible during those hours to attend meetings and other department functions. The staff member may post remote and on-campus work schedules in their email signature and other places deemed necessary by their supervisor.
  • Remains available to attend on-campus work, meetings, events, and other work activities as determined by the supervisor with reasonable notice.

Generally, requests to work remotely should not be considered when:

  • A remote or hybrid work option is inappropriate based on the nature of the job and specific responsibilities.
  • The job requires the staff member’s physical presence or working remotely would disrupt College or department efficiency or productivity.
  • The staff member’s responsibilities require frequent supervision, direction, or input from others who are on campus or that the staff member is required to provide such oversight of others.
  • The staff member has received disciplinary action within the past year or has a demonstrated attendance problem.
  • The staff member cannot perform remote work from an approved location. 

Staff members who work remotely must comply with all College policies and procedures, including safeguarding and securing any restricted or confidential information with which they work. Failure to fulfill job duties and responsibilities may be cause for revocation of the remote or hybrid work arrangement and disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.


Departments will determine, with information supplied by the staff member and the supervisor, the appropriate equipment needs for each remote work set-up on a case‐by‐case basis. Remote and hybrid working employees must maintain a safe working environment in compliance with the College’s Safety Checklist. In a hybrid work environment, staff members will be issued laptops instead of desktop computers in order to support the portability of the device. All furniture requests for remote workstations must be approved by and fulfilled through Purchasing. 

The supervisor in consultation with ITS will determine the appropriate IT equipment, subject to any accommodations approved by Human Resources.  Equipment supplied by the College is to be used for College purposes only. 


The staff member working remotely will be required to confirm an inventory of all office property and agree to take appropriate action to protect the items from damage or theft. The College will provide maintenance for equipment supplied to the staff member. Staff members are discouraged from using their personally owned computers for conducting work. The College accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to personally owned equipment. Absent College approval, all College property must be returned upon the end of College employment. 


All remote and hybrid employees must review and abide by the  ITS guidelines for working remotely


Staff members interested in requesting remote or hybrid work must consult with their department manager, who will determine if the position is eligible in consultation with the area president’s staff member and Human Resources. 

Requests for medical accommodations requiring remote or hybrid work must be reviewed and approved by Human Resources. To request medical accommodations, contact Terri Maguire at for more information.