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HR 101 – Attendance Registers

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

I am often astounded by people’s reactions when I tell them that it is a legal requirement for staff to complete and sign in, in an attendance register or some sort of digital replacement. The usual response is something along the lines of “well George has been with us for a number of years now and he is like part of the family and we don’t want to change that in any way, so we don’t want to implement an attendance register.” Fine – if that’s the way you want it, my job is merely to tell you about it, whether you listen or heed that advice is, of course, your prerogative.

So why is it then, that 9 out 10 people who react like this when I tell them to implement an attendance register end up phoning me to assist them with a CCMA case several months or even years down the line? Well, that’s really quite simple. You see, George (who was “like part of the family”) has decided to leave the company for greener pastures and when he left he wanted and was entitled to have his leave paid out. The problem of course is that there was no record of the amount of leave that he took, so you guessed it and paid it out to him in good faith. He, on the other hand, was only part of your family because it suited him at the time and now he wants his pound of flesh, so to speak – and he knows that there is no record of when he was on leave and so he will claim as much as he can, going back for as long as he can and there is pretty much, nothing that you can do about it.

Having an attendance register in place, and insisting that the staff abide by it, means that you have taken the emotion out of the situation. Now no one can get hot under the collar because they were sure that they were at work on that day and you were sure that they weren’t. The attendance register will prove who was at work and when.

Remember though, the attendance register must be signed EVERY day when the employee comes to work and not months in advance or months in arrears. Even your domestic worker who comes in once a week or your gardener who comes in once a week should be signing the register. In fact, my rule is – if the attendance register has not been signed, it means that you were not at work and if you were not at work, then you will not be paid.

It’s quite simple, isn’t it?