Wal-Mart’s ‘New’ Attendance Policy

Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart are touting an article from the Wall Street Journal discussing the company's "new" attendance policy.
The new policy instructs employees requesting time off for illness to call an 800 number to get a code and then relay that code to their store manager for approval of their absence. Previously, employees asked their store manager directly for such time off, employees say. In addition, the new policy formalizes penalties for employees who fail to get their absences authorized or don't bother to call. Among them: Any employee with more than three unauthorized absences in a six-month span will be disciplined, and those with seven will be fired. Any employee who is absent three times during a six-month period and doesn't call the 800 number for any of the three times can be fired. And employees needing more than three consecutive sick days are encouraged to apply for an unpaid leave of absence or time off under the Family Medical Leave Act. Previously, store managers had more discretion regarding discipline for unexcused absences.
The union groups are attacking the policy change as an injustice against Wal-Mart's employees. Wake Up Wal-Mart's Chris Kofinis went so far as to claim that it "just sends another terrible message that this company looks at its workers as a commodity." I hate to break it to you, Chris, but there isn't much here that's new. The attendance policy that has been in effect since 1998 allowed three absences in a rolling six month period. A fourth resulted in a verbal coaching; a fifth in a written coaching; a sixth in a decision day. A seventh absence resulted in termination. Three tardies counted as an absence. Three consecutive days of missing work counted as only one absence. Three "no call, no shows" was grounds for immediate dismissal. None of this has changed. An associate can miss as many as 18 days in six months and keep his or her job. I don't see anything unreasonable about this. The only thing that has changed is the addition of the 800 number. Wal-Mart's critics seem to think that this innovation is part of a diabolical scheme to force out the elderly and the sick. This couldn't be further from the truth. Bentonville is trying to eliminate the lost productivity that results from excessive absenteeism -- they are trying to save money. The only people who will find the new system problematic are those who took advantage of the system (You know, the people who find a reason to miss a day every week.). With all the focus on the exaggerated negatives of the tracking system, everyone is ignoring the positives: 1. It lightens the load on the workers who do come in. Wal-Mart's staffing isn't that great to begin with, but when people call in there is more work for everyone. Breaks and lunches often end up late (or *gasp* skipped!). The customers have to wait longer and have even more difficulty getting service on the sales floor. Everyone will benefit from the decreased call-ins. 2. It curbs favoritism. We've all seen it. The boss likes Sally, so he looks the other way when she takes that extra day off, but when Joe does it, he gets in trouble. Since it's being tracked by Bentonville, Sally and the manager can't get away with this anymore. 3. It protects associates. The old system depended on management answering the call and making note that the associate wasn't coming in. When managers are busy, they often don't have time to write it down and it slips their mind. Just like that, the absence could go down as a "no call, no show." Enough mistakes like this could cost a person his or her job. Now, there is no need to worry. The anti-Wal-Mart movement never seems to notice the good Wal-Mart does. They are always looking for something bad to focus on, making sure to blow it out of proportion and distort it to fit their agenda. Why can't they just state the facts and let them speak for themselves? Guest Blogger: Someone In USA

88 Responses to “Wal-Mart’s ‘New’ Attendance Policy”

  1. spouse of employee says:

      You guys are trippin… my woman calls in sick atleast once a week just to stay home and chill with me and as long as she calls the 800# she has no issues…  that 800# is from the gods!!! you call+give your name+store# and reason then hang up and dont worry about gettin in trouble…. quit hate’n on walmart cuz you didnt get hired for failing the drug test

    • employee says:

      I don’t know where your spouse works ..but that is not the way it works it Bushnell,Fl. You can call the 800# and get their approval ..but our management says no excuse is approved or accepted. All absences are unexcused. Unless you are one of their chosen few.. then you can miss as much as you want nothing is done.

  2. Thatguy says:

    Did you know if you go to the doctors and get a note to not go to work you get an excused absence. Check the wire for details. You also could go to the ER to get the night off.

    • Missy says:

      Dr notes do not give you an excused absence at Walmart…its in the attendance policy…

    • Tauruda Nivod says:

      Here’s the attendance policy at my store. If you work hard and do whatever you are told, become one of the special few, no one cares if you miss. If not, there is no such thing as an excused absence. Even if you go to the ER and have to miss a day, they give you a point. Any absence requires approved notification ahead of time. The managers USED to have this forgiveness policy where they would not give a point if they thought you truly couldn’t be there. A couple of years ago we had a major ice storm and many people had to call in due to vehicles that could not get out of the driveways. The governor even declared it a state of emergency. Still they fired one associate and pointed all others who missed, even after the emergency statement. On the other hand we have had certain associates collect over 9 points, two coachings plus a D-Day, as well as get into verbal fights with customers and they were not touched. Instead all their points get removed, their coachings go away and they are given a manager position without eligibility and without interviewing anyone else who applied. We lost several top rank stockers that could work any part of the store because they accrued that one point to fire them because they were injured or sick. No forgiveness. Yeah the point system is there for us to take advantage of, but our store uses it to kill off good employees. There is just too much to vent about right now.

  3. Catherine says:

    Getting a Dr’s note does nothing, except maybe less attitude from management. 
    They act like you’re skipping work, rather than going home to recover from an illness, or prevent spreading a sickness.

    Getting a Dr’s note gets you nowhere, unless you’re in some mgr’s pocket, MAYBE.

    We all know how favoritism thrives there.    

  4. Catherine says:

    I worked for Wm* for over 19 years.  Over time, they have consistently made everyone’s jobs harder to complete.  Everyone is much more stressed than they used to be.  There is no more pride at my old store.  We used to do a cheer every morning, and we all laughed together when one of the maintenence guys jumped in the middle and shouted “T!” , to end the spelling of the company name.
    Trying to do a great job was tough when mgmt was on everyone’e case, telling us to get done faster, “show a greater sense of urgency”, and “being a team player.”


  5. lol says:

    hahahahahahaaha I had so many speeches about shower greater sense of urgency and being a team player when you refuse to do other department’s work. no idea that was all text book bullshit they are taught to say.

  6. Marie says:

    Please, like any of Walmart’s policies are honestly meant to reduce subjectivity on the part of managers or make life easier for employees. Bentonville cannot and will not track the absences of over 1 million employees. In the end, excused versus unexcused absences are still in hands of boss and “Sally”, and “Joe” is still the one being punished. My manager recently refused to permit me one absence to be with my husband during surgery, but continues to grant young male employees who charm her anything they need, regardless of who pays for it in extra work. Walmart will never grant its associates anything more than a poverty level job full of favoritism, bureaucracy, and anti-family policies. Its employees will never be treated as anything more than disposable commodities. Defending them is naive, short-sighted, and reflective of someone who has either never worked for them or has had the fortune of always receiving “Sally” treatment.

  7. asae says:

    Seems like Walmart management cares more about their bonuses than they do about the employees’ welfare or the spreading of diseases to everything the employees touch/cough/sneeze on including children’s toys, ready to eat food, boxed and packaged food, candy, over-the-counter medicine and hygiene products, drinks and beverages, and everything else you can imagine in your local Walmart.  Management’s attitude? Take a pill and go to work sick unless you’re in need of hospitalization.

    • Tauruda Nivod says:

      That reminds me. At our store there is a little sign over the time clock that reads “If you are sick, clock in and discuss it with management before deciding to call in.” Several have done this and management refused to excuse them and even tried to make them work while being sick.

  8. asae says:

    Something I thought about after my last message. I worked for a small company once and after visiting someone in a hospital I was sick with a high fever for a few days. First day after the hospital visit I was okay and went to work and used my computer keyboard as usual.  That evening I started to get feel ill and my temperature began to rise. By next day I had flu like symptoms and a rather high temperature. Next day my fever went away but my temperature was much lower than “normal”. By the 3rd or 4th day I was feeling better and returned to work. A clerk had used the keyboard I had used and was now out sick and when she returned she indicated that she had the same thing I had symptoms and all.  Can you imagine all the people that might have been affected if I had been working in Walmart as an overnight stocker and opening cartons, stocking the contents, and then carefully adjusting the individual items on the shelves for appearance which is called “zoning” … 10s or 100s of people could have been affected and Walmart seems to promote this policy by encouraging its managers to do what they can to get the employees to come in and work regardless of whether they feel sick or not.  I’ve actually heard a manager tell employees in a meeting that not coming in to work for being sick was unacceptable to him during the weeks before Christmas because of the additional demand placed on the staff because of the holiday. Couldn’t believe I was hearing that but he repeated himself and made it clear to all the associates in the room.  Just so you know what you’re supporting when you buy from Walmart.

    • associate says:

      It is even harder to stay healthy working in the pharmacy!!! You are surrounded by sick people all day, then you don’t dare not come in if your sick and we are all back there in the little cubicle, so we spread it around and around. I have been trying to save my points for bad weather since I cannot drive well in snow and have over 30 mile each way commute. Now have the flu, dr. note (not accepted) and don’t know how many points I earned going home early day diagnosed, plus next day. Can’t seem to win!

  9. Bud says:

    But do they take time to consider people with small children and elderly parents? 

  10. lisa hooper says:

    No they do not consider the people that have elderly parents or small children to care for. Unless you are one of the chosen few of course. WalMart is not family friendly. 

  11. Jason Carter says:

    I am a employee for the DC and attendance is the same, I had to call just to see what they can do for me because my child had a high beginning 3 hours before my morning shift and I had to bring him to ER. Since my PTL wasn’t as good they told me that they are sorry my child is going through that but its either you miss and taken him while being held accountable or you come to work that’s your only choice and to take FMLA you have to miss 3 days of work and get paperwork, and it has to be approved, so these unexpected things that can’t be controlled is still at your fault, I love my job because they pay me well but to work for a company that faults you and holds you accountable for your child needing medical attention for just that day is just sad, buisness is buisness right? 

  12. Sonya says:

    My son got fired after missing six days on at the same timebit within the same six months. They all had either a doctors note ormonte from e.r. But he was still fired. So I don’t understand why some people are safe and others who go to work and do theirjob but get sick due to medical issues are dismissed.

  13. Chris. B. says:

    So the other point they do not make is that if you call in 3 consecutive days it only counts as 1 occurrence…3 occurrences is a write up, and 3 write ups is a termination… Therefore you can call out 27 times before being fired… A lenient policy as I have ever seen.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who are all of your people, IN DEFENSE OF WALMART, think you are kidding??? WALMART are Nazi’s! They treat their employees the way The Hitler Regime treated the Jewish Prisoners of War. They take no excuses and all you are to them is a number. Their so called “open door policy” does not exist. All that bullshit is an opportunity for them to fire you by reason of complaint. They don’t care how sick you are. People cannot help it when they become ill. They prefer that you show up at work, spreading your germs, and passing illness upon illness to other employees. Should you personally have a problem with that, what the hell, there will always be “new hires” for less pay, RIGHT! Walmart treats their employees like slaves, maimed or otherwise. ALL of the Walmart management are mainly uneducated back stabbers that would go to any length and any measure to retain that basic title that Walmart will give to just about anyone to serve as their CSM “team members” (Etc) that will lie about you, fabricate untruths about you & persecute you in any way they can because in their wee ignorant uneducated little lives they believe that is the common behavior of people with intelligence. Go figure. These people actually believe that their jobs are so important that they are perfectly willing to step on anyone they have to to keep them. Walmart is an UN-GODLY place where the DEVIL serves HIS PURPOSE well. Just remember one thing people, to do unto others as you wish done unto your self. What comes around goes around. Furthermore, don’t be surprised when the GOV starts enforcing the implants of the number of the BEAST – 666, Walmart is the number 1 subsidy of Gov programs. Eventually, you will not only work or shop there, you will live there, park your vehicle there and there will be no other place that you can go. You will be residing in your own self-made prison. Best of luck!

  15. Florence W says:

    Isn’t there unexcused absence policy due to illness or injury in direct violation of the FMLA act?

  16. Someone in USA says:

    Florence, no there isn’t.

    I’m amazed that the blog gets so many comments on a post this old…

    • AwwdeeGee says:

      Is it true that one no call/no show results in an immediate 2 coachings? My AM says I have a no call /no show and I’m not showing up in the system as calling in. I used the online schedule app to call in and I didn’t write down my confirmation # and didn’t talk to a manager at my store, I figured they would be notified like you are when you use the 800# to call in. Well, apparently they weren’t. I have no way to prove that I actually got confirmation and I’ve never had a coaching. Now my AM says that a show call/no show is automatically 2 coachings. Is that true? I’m hoping to get promoted to a csm but with a 2 coachings that’s impossible…!!

      • Someone in USA says:

        I’m not aware of a no call no show being anything more than one absence…unless you do it three days in a row, which is job abandonment. I’m not familiar enough with the online system to know how that works, but I’d think if you are promotable with a good attendance record that common sense would prevail. You may see if HR can look it up. Everything is saved somewhere unless there was a connection issue.

  17. Maidenguahan says:

    I have worked at Walmart for two years now. Walmart is anti-family. Their slogan live better is hippo critical. They had a big ad campaign that they are raising their starting wage to $10.00 which is a big laugh because as soon as the first round of increases happened they laid off their temp/part-time associates for 2 months and then cut all other employees down to 20 a 28 hours/week.

    When I was hired I was told I would work a minimum of 28 hours but average 32 hours. I turned down two other jobs that paid )1.00 /hour more because I figured Walmart was in walking distance from my home and the other jobs I would lose that in gas money. Only I did not expect only 20 hours a week.

    There is favoritism here everyday and management does not hid it. Only those in their favorite circle get the hours and promotions. I work hard everyday, help my co workers and yet even though I have 5 AA degrees in business, retail manager, marketing, and business management, I don’t even get called in for interviews that I apply for. All my co workers say I am awesome.

    One of my co workers was fired for having more than 7 absences this year even though she had doctor’s notes and had to take off work for legal reasons as she took custody of her grand kids and missed work due to court dates. She worked for Walmart for 12 years. Letting her go has kicked employee moral in the butt. I have never missed work and have requested only 2 Saturday’s off one for a wedding and another for a family reunion and both have been denied yet the “favorites” have every request approved and have weekends off all the time where I have never had one weekend off in 2 years. I am out of that prison soon!

  18. Ann says:

    True —I had a dr’s note when I had the flu and could not even speak and I was told they did not except them for absences. I came into the stote with my note and then went home to call the 800 number. After you are done with the call in system you are connected to

  19. Kris says:

    I have worked for two different Walmart’s in two different states. both not even a year each but I have still seen a lot that is said on here. Walmart just sucks in general. Other then the favoritism and the call in policies here are these examples:

    The first Walmart I worked at is very adamant about how you can’t and shouldn’t be working on your breaks or lunch as a hourly associate. Now this second Walmart while I was in orientation the lady training everyone specifically told us you should help the customer whether on or off the clock because we don’t want that customer getting back to the higher ups and complaining. I guess it shows bad work ethic. I thought there was a law about that. Funny how the same company can have different policies as you go from store to store and probably only because they’ve been in trouble for it.

    Not even just that. WORSE! They give you these computer training courses and then practically just throw you out on the floor with almost no shadowing and the person in charge of training you isn’t always there. some days it’s just the new hires with no guide in my experiences. Then they expect your training courses to be done with in five days and you’re on the floor. It doesn’t seem right that people like cashiers who are handling thousands of dollars and using these forever updating glitchy registers with so many different codes and what have it are trained this way. I didn’t even no what to do if there was a robbery for the first 2-3 months. My entire class didn’t know until after they were on the floor. sadly Walmart seems to have some much greater issues then this call in policy.

  20. Someone in USA says:

    I’m impressed that this remains one of the most popular posts on the blog, Jeff. It still gets comments, even with the policy changes in March (and, I’m sure, numerous others since this was written).

  21. Tauruda Nivod says:

    Not any more. You get 8 points total in a rolling six month period. 9th, your out. You now get a whole point for each day missed, no more collecting them as one. You don\’t get coached for attendance anymore, simply fired. And you only get two coachings before termination instead of three.

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