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Coffeepot Chatter: When You Can't Come To Work

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Tom: Harry, have you heard from Maria? It’s after 9 a.m. and she isn’t here.

Harry: Yes, she called me around 7:30. She’s not feeling well. I intended to send you an email message before my 8 o’clock meeting. I’m sorry, I forgot to do that.

Tom: Not a problem. I was starting to worry because she’s rarely late. I was about to call or text her but thought I should check with you first.

Harry: I’m glad you did. She sounded terrible and said she was going back to bed. There’s no harm checking with her, but I’m glad you didn’t disturb her.

Tom: Maybe I’ll tell her to contact me next time.

Harry: No, she should contact me – the policy states the employee should contact the supervisor. If, for some reason, she can’t reach me then I am fine with her contacting you.

Tom: Got it. Thanks.

Life Happens

We all have mornings when we wake up sick, or discover our child is sick or has a snow day and we can’t report for work.  And at some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced snarled traffic, sudden weather, car trouble, an alarm clock that refused to go off, or another minor mishap that makes us late.

You’re human. There will come a moment when you won’t be able to be at your place of work at the appointed time. Lehigh has two expectations of its employees at these times is that each of us will which are for you to:

  1. Communicate with our supervisor, and
  2. Take responsibility for your work.

Acceptable Communication

Tom was concerned about Maria’s absence because he hadn’t yet heard of her absence. But Maria had followed the right procedure.  Lehigh’s Staff Guides and HR policies include the following expectations:

  • If you are going to be late to work, the university expects you to notify your supervisor preferably within 30 minutes before or after your regular starting time.
  • When you must take time off due to illness, notify your supervisor within one-half hour of the start of your working day. If you become sick while at work and must leave, notify your supervisor.
  • If you cannot reach your supervisor, call Human Resources (610-758-3900) and your message will be relayed.

You should have your supervisor’s phone numbers programmed into your cell phone or easily retrievable at home for these kinds of situations. Also, be sure that you have a clear understanding of how your supervisor wishes to be contacted. Whenever possible, person-to-person communication is the preferred mode.

Taking Responsibility

Responsible use of sick leave/excused absence is important in your employment at Lehigh. When you are absent, others must assist in covering your duties and responsibilities in addition to their own work.

We recognize that illness is unavoidable and there may be other times when you cannot attend work. However, if you are absent frequently, your supervisor may discuss absenteeism with you and establish clear guidelines for the use of sick leave. The university expects staff members to use this benefit with discretion.

For more information on the expectations and responsibilities associated with lateness and call off procedure, please consult the Staff Guides on the HR website.

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