By Barbara Haga, August 18, 2021

After the last column was published, I heard from a practitioner from one of those agencies that didn’t have a lot of written guidance on conduct issues.  She was asking if I had a sample of such a set of expectations. I didn’t have a sample, but I have seen bits and pieces in various agency documents that I thought would be helpful. So, I decided to take a stab at putting a policy together.

I have started with work schedules, attendance, and related matters. Next month, I will work on other discipline-related topics. If you have some suggested topics or language you’ve developed, please feel free to e-mail me.


This memorandum sets forth expectations regarding work behaviors and general procedures employees are expected to follow in our workplace. Establishing clear expectations is intended to ensure that employees are aware of basic requirements regarding attendance and work practices and also to ensure that consistent practices are followed throughout the organization.  Meeting these expectations will facilitate effective, timely, and accurate work outcomes which are the key to meeting our mission.

ATTENDANCE AND REPORTING. Employees are to be dependable and prepared to fulfill work requirements during scheduled duty hours, whether working on government premises or at an alternate worksite.

WORK SCHEDULES. Work schedules are set based on the needs of the organization. That doesn’t mean that employee preferences are not taken into account, but ultimately such decisions rest on the when the customers need our services, when organizations we typically deal with are open, and other factors that impact when our work needs to be performed.

The work schedules that are authorized include (fill in options here). Details on use of these schedules can be found here (insert link).

In the event that an employee wishes to request a change in work schedule, requests must be submitted to the supervisor in writing (in advance, or a set time frame in advance.)  Supervisors will respond to requests for schedule changes as soon as possible.

WORK LOCATION. Telework is authorized in the same manner as schedules are set.  The ability to work remotely depends on when and where our services are needed, what types of interactions must take place and how these can be effectively accomplished, the need for sharing information and coordination among work team members, and other similar factors.  We will consider employee preferences, but the demands of the work are always key in such determinations.

Telework is authorized (fill in options). Details on our telework policy are located here (insert link).

LUNCH PERIOD.  Daily work schedules include a ______ minute lunch period. The lunch period is a non-work period. Shifts without lunch periods are generally not authorized, meaning employees may not skip lunch and end their shifts earlier.

BREAKS. Formal breaks are not authorized. Employees are free to take reasonable short breaks to get a beverage or to take a restroom break.  Smoking breaks are authorized……  (Fill in if you have such a policy).

LEAVE SCHEDULING. Employees request leave from their immediate supervisors. Leave requests may be submitted by e-mail, in the timekeeping system, or by telephone (adjust this to fit your requirements). If requesting leave by telephone, the employee should speak to the supervisor directly. If the supervisor is not available, the employee should leave a message with a telephone number where he or she can be reached to be advised whether the leave has been approved. Procedures and time frames for various types of leave requests are outlined in the following paragraphs.  Failure to comply with the procedures may result in the leave not being approved.

Annual Leave.  Employee requests for annual leave are to be submitted in advance.  (Union contracts and leave policies may provide specifics regarding dates by which leave periods must be scheduled.)  Approval of annual leave is dependent on mission requirements.   In the rare event that previously approved leave must cancelled, employees are expected to cooperate in rescheduling.

Sick Leave. Employees are entitled to utilize sick leave for the six authorized uses contained in 5 CFR 630.401. (A reference to a directive or language in a union contract that lists the uses would be more informative). Employee requests for sick leave for anticipated absences such as planned surgery or scheduled treatment should be submitted in advance.  (Your policy may ask for a week or ten days’ notice, for example.) Certain sick leave uses and sick leave over three consecutive days may require written documentation. Details on sick leave usage requirements are found here. (insert link)

Emergency Annual and Sick Leave. The need for leave for annual leave emergencies, such as a car breaking down on the way to work or a plumbing emergency in the home, is to be reported to the supervisor within ____ hours of the beginning of the work shift. The same time frame applies for short notice sick leave requests for unexpected illnesses or medical appointments. As noted above, documentation may be required before leave can be finally approved. Supervisors will advise employees whether the emergency leave is approved as soon as possible.

Other Leave Types.  There are a variety of types of leave for special circumstances such as court leave, leave without pay, Family and Medical Leave, etc. Information on these types of leave can be found at (insert link).

TIMEKEEPING SYSTEM. Employees must maintain accurate information about their work status in the timekeeping system. While timecards are approved biweekly, the best practice is to ensure that the information is input each day. This minimizes problems with omitting leave use or a late arrival from earlier in the pay period and also helps supervisors fill in information if an employee is unexpectedly out and not able to complete the timecard by the deadline.

It is the employee’s responsibility to ensure that leave is accurately input, including any special coding necessary for certain kinds of leave. For example, if you are using Family Care Sick Leave you must identify in the dropdown menu which category of leave you are using (customize this to the specifics of your leave system). If an employee is unsure about how to properly code an absence, it is his or her responsibility to do the necessary research or reach out to the appropriate timekeeping personnel to verify how to properly complete the entry.

MAINTAINING UP-TO-DATE CONTACT INFORMATION. Employees must provide contact information including addresses and telephone numbers and personal e-mail addresses to ensure that, should it be necessary to reach employees outside of work hours, this may be accomplished.

Providing contact information also extends to an employee’s location while on leave for potential recall should that become necessary in the event of an emergency.

[email protected]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This