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February 13, 2010
Response to Last-Minute Absences: Discipline

In a 2010 BLR webinar, “Solving PTO Problems: How to Reduce Unscheduled Absences Without Alienating Employees or Violating the Law,” attorney Catherine Moreton Gray outlined common problems employers face in implementing any paid time off program.

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Regular, predictable attendance is a reasonable expectation and in almost all cases an essential job function. Yet most employers have had to deal with last-minute employee absences.

Regardless of whether the employer uses a PTO bank or a traditional paid time off program, Gray said, the consequence for employees who miss a lot of work (or who miss work in certain patterns) without notice is discipline.

Gray summarized her presentation by saying that there is no perfect plan—employers will always be faced with some attendance problems. She emphasized that training for supervisors on policies and related laws is critical.

Catherine Moreton Gray is an associate attorney in the Labor and Employment section of Robinson & Cole LLP in Hartford, Conn. She has more than 20 years of experience in human resources and employment law. Contact her at

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