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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 who is essential on their staff. 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.

Telecommuting and Alternative Schedule

The mission of the College is to serve the educational needs of a residential student campus and to provide continuity of administrative services in support of the mission. As such, departments may consider telecommuting work or alternative schedule arrangements that support eligible staff members in performing their work at an alternative worksite when it is feasible, meets departmental goals, and ensures that services are available and that offices are open to the public during regular hours of business.

Telecommuting and alternative work arrangements are voluntary options that may improve efficiency and productivity in some circumstances. Consideration is at the discretion of the department and supervisors in consultation with Human Resources. The College is also committed to accommodating various flexible work schedules to ensure a productive workplace and provide options to maintain College operations. Although telecommuting and alternative work schedules may be viable options for some employees, they are not entitlements. Considerations for flexible scheduling will be based on a number of factors. See eligibility criteria below for details. This policy applies to all regular, on-going employees. It does not apply to:

  • Temporary, on-call, or limited-term employees
  • Faculty and other instructional staff



  • A work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed at an off-campus work site such as the home or office space near home. Communication may be by one or more of several means, including phone, email, and fax. Equipment may be owned and maintained by the employee or by the College.

Alternative Schedule

  • Alternative schedules may include variations in daily beginning and ending work time periods or a compressed work week, so long as the alternative schedule complies with state and federal wage and hour laws.


Either the staff member or the department may initiate the request to Human Resources.

  • If and when the administrative supervisor agrees to a telecommuting or alternative schedule arrangement, the department should complete a formal, written agreement, using the telecommuting and alternative schedule guidelines and the telecommuting agreement.
  • Once all required signatures have been obtained, the employee should be given a copy of the document and the original should be maintained by the department with a copy submitted to Human Resources.
  • As questions arise, they should be directed to Human Resources.
  • Periodic checks should be conducted to ensure the success of the arrangement.
  • Telecommuting agreements must be reviewed and renewed annually by the employee and supervisor, and the “Swarthmore Telecommuting Safety Checklist” must be completed, including an ergonomic assessment, to ensure the designated workspace meets safety criteria.


Human Resources can assist employees and supervisors in designing optimum agreements. In the workplace, telecommuting is available for eligible staff employees at the discretion of the department and supervisors. Decisions about the suitability of telecommuting are made with the department and the approval of the area Vice President or designee.

Eligibility Criteria

The determination of whether a position is appropriate for a telecommuting arrangement is made on a case-by-case basis at the department level. Departments evaluate suitability based largely on the nature of the work being performed.

Generally, requests to telecommute should be considered when:

  • the employee (including those who supervise other employees) has demonstrated sustained high performance and the manager believes the employee can maintain the expected quantity and quality of work while telecommuting.
  • the department can maintain quality of service for students, faculty, and other members of the College community.
  • the telecommuting option is appropriate based on the nature of the job and specific responsibilities.

Generally, requests to telecommute should not be considered when:

  • the job requires the employee’s physical presence or telecommuting would disrupt the College or department’s efficiency.
  • the employee’s current assignment requires frequent supervision, direction, or input from others who are onsite or requires that the employee provide frequent supervision, direction, or input from other employees who are onsite.
  • the employee’s performance evaluations do not indicate sustained high performance or the ability to work independently.
  • the employee’s observed productivity levels are problematic or inconsistent or when tracking and confirming work hours is difficult (as in the case of non-exempt employees).
  • the employee has received disciplinary action within the past year or has a demonstrated attendance problem.
  • the employee has less than six months of service with the College.

General Expectations

Telecommuting is not intended to permit staff to have time to work at other jobs, provide dependent care during work hours, or run their own businesses. Employees who telecommute must comply with all policies and procedures, including safeguarding and securing any restricted or confidential information with which they work. Failure to fulfill normal work requirements, both qualitative and quantitative, may be cause for disciplinary action or termination of employment. Employees who telecommute are expected to have regularly scheduled work hours, to be fully accessible during those hours, and to attend group meetings and functions.

Departments will determine, with information supplied by the employee and the supervisor, the appropriate equipment needs for each telecommuting arrangement on a case-by-case basis. The College will maintain equipment supplied to the employee. The College accepts no responsibility for damage or repairs to employee-owned equipment. The College reserves the right to make determinations related to appropriate equipment, determinations subject to change at any time. Equipment supplied by the College is to be used for business purposes only. The telecommuter should sign an inventory of all office property and agree to take appropriate action to protect the items from damage or theft. Upon termination of employment, all College property must be returned unless other arrangements have been made.

Duration of Telecommuting Arrangements

Telecommuting arrangements end at the employee’s termination from the College. Telecommuting agreements will be reviewed at least on an annual basis. A telecommuting arrangement may be revoked at any time if it is determined to be in the best interest of the department or College.

Telecommuting Requirements for Alternative Worksites

A. Supervisor responsibilities:

Before telecommuting begins, ensure that employees perform a workplace health and safety inspection of their designated workspace (refer to the “Swarthmore Telecommuting Safety Checklist”), including an ergonomic self-assessment of their computer workstation.

After telecommuting begins, ensure that employees perform periodic (annual is recommended) workplace health and safety inspections (as described above).

B. Employee responsibilities:

  1. Before telecommuting begins, and on a periodic basis thereafter, perform workplace health and safety inspections of the designated workplace (using the resources described above).
  2. Provide completed inspection documents to supervisor.
  3. Correct identified deficiencies in a timely manner.
  4. Maintain the alternative workspace free from health and safety hazards and inform supervisor of any new workplace health and safety hazards needing correction.
  5. Immediately report to supervisor any work-related illness or injury suffered while telecommuting, and then complete required forms.

To ensure that a safe workplace can be maintained, the telecommuting agreement should clarify safety-related equipment/furniture needs and maintenance (as applicable). For any workplace health and safety-related questions, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Officer at (610) 328-8564.

Telecommuting Agreement

An agreement between the telecommuting employee and the employee’s department is required and will be placed in the employee’s personnel file. The telecommuting agreement may be modified or terminated any time, with appropriate notice. As circumstances, business needs, and job requirements evolve over time, adjustments and modifications may become necessary. At least two weeks notice should be provided whenever possible in advance of ending or changing the agreement. In all cases, telecommuting agreements must be renewed annually.