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 rearrange 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 at Swarthmore work a wide variety of work schedules, day and night. Most people have a regular schedule of five 7 or 8 hour days each week. Your department will let your know what days you are scheduled to work.


Reliable, consistent attendance is an important requirement of all staff positions. Your coworkers and those you serve in your position rely on you. When you are absent, work and service are interrupted and often an additional burden is placed on others.

If an eligible staff member must be absent due to a reasons covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), such as their own or a family member's serious health condition or the birth or adoption of a child, 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 call within 15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time and, at the very minimum, within 30 minutes after your scheduled start time if you will be late or absent. However, each department has its own policies and procedures that are specific to the nature of its work and some departments may even require staff to call an hour or more before their shift is to begin. Be sure you understand your department's expectations and procedures for calling in.

You should be the one to call in; your supervisor will need to speak directly with you to make alternate arrangements for the work you would have done that day. 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.


Certification of Illness

Your department may have a specific policy about providing medical statements for time missed due to illness. You may be required to submit a doctor's note or equivalent medical statement before you will be paid sick time.

Doctors' statements must specifically verify that you were diagnosed with an illness or injury and are unable to work, not merely that you consulted with a health care provider, before the time off will be authorized. Supervisors may require a second medical opinion, at the department's cost, if they have a good faith reason to believe it to be warranted.


Medical and Dental Appointments

Whenever possible, we ask that you schedule medical and dental appointments for yourself and your family at times that will not cause you to miss work. If you need to miss work for a scheduled medical or dental appointment, let your supervisor know at least two weeks in advance. The time you miss must be the time you truly need for your appointment. Many departments have forms that staff fill out in advance to request time off.


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

We recognize that on rare occasions a staff member may need unscheduled time off for a non-medical emergency reason (e.g., if his/her home is damaged by fire or in cases of severe weather). Supervisors can usually accommodate such infrequent requests by allowing you to use accrued vacation time-and we encourage them to do so if possible. 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 dismissal.


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 the worksite 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 cancelled 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 cancelled 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, Health, 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 his/her Vice President to determine who is essential on his/her 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 his/her 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 cancelled 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.


Being on the Premises Before or After Work Hours

There are many reasons to be on campus outside of work hours. The College encourages employees to participate in the wide variety of activities the College has to offer. In general, you should not be in your work area unless you are scheduled to be there.

Non exempt staff also should not start early or work late unless they have specific authorization from their supervisor. Any time worked by a non exempt staff member must be paid time; working unauthorized time may be grounds for disciplinary action.


15 Minute Rest Breaks

While breaks are not required by state or federal regulations, Swarthmore attempts to be flexible when people need short breaks. Many positions at Swarthmore have considerable flexibility that allows staff to do such things as move around the work area and get coffee or go to the restroom. In cases where work can be accomplished in a flexible manner, it is not necessary for supervisors to schedule formal break time.

For positions with limited flexibility, supervisors are encouraged to schedule a 15 minute break approximately halfway through each four hour work period. These breaks are part of the regular work routine and are considered paid time. Breaks cannot be saved or accumulated to use at another time, or to come in late or leave early, because the intended purpose isn't fulfilled if the breaks are not taken at the scheduled intervals.


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 schedule the actual time and length of your meal period.

Meal breaks are considered personal time. You must be relieved of all duties and you are encouraged to leave your immediate work area in order to eat and relax. Time spent during meal breaks is not paid. 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. If attendance at the meeting or program is strictly voluntary and the staff member will not be held accountable for information presented in such forums, the staff member need not be paid for the time.


Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Swarthmore is committed to supporting mothers with a nursing child (less than one year in age) to provide their child with all the health benefits of breastfeeding. The College will 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. Frequency of breaks will likely vary but it is expected that during an eight hour shift an employee may need two to three breaks. 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 the Employee Relations Manager in the Human Resources Office at ext. 8398 or e-mail Lee Robinson at .