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Image: Ktr101, Wikimedia Commons

Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have well-known attendance points systems. Although the policies are tweaked from time to time, the basics remain the same. If you call in sick to work, or simply do not show up, you receive 1 point. Failure to clock in or out on time results in 1/2 point. If you amass a certain number of points within a rolling calendar period (such as 3 points in 30 days or 6 points in 90 days), you receive a reprimand. On your fourth reprimand, you are fired. No-call/no-show, in which you do not follow call-in procedures, is considered more serious. On your third consecutive no-call/no-show day, you are terminated.

Your points go on your permanent record card, and a high number of points can make you ineligible for transfers or promotions. Of course, if you develop a major medical problem, the theme parks will generally work with you on creating a pathway back to work. The points systems are not meant to punish people who are legitimately ill or injured, but rather to cut down on abuse.

An interesting side note to this system is the fact that tardiness of more than 2 hours counts as a whole point rather than a half point. Therefore, if you are running very late, it is not really to your advantage to go in to work at all (unless you need the money), since you will be docked an identical number of points for taking the whole day off.

The system does not differentiate between full-time employees receiving sick pay and part-time or seasonal employees taking unpaid time off. There is not a company-wide policy regarding doctor’s notes, and a doctor’s note does not prevent you from receiving points. However, some areas, especially those involved in food service, require a doctor’s note to return to work after certain illnesses. In addition, if you are out sick with any illness for several days (often 5 in a row), you might need a doctor’s note to return.

If you want time off but do not want to accrue points, you have a few different options. Here is a look at 4 ways to miss work without getting points. Your location might offer additional solutions as well.

1. Regular Day Off

Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue

Technically, only full-time employees are guaranteed regular schedules, which they bid for based on seniority. In practice, however, many locations find it easiest to develop ongoing schedules for all or most of their employees. This means that if you have Wednesday and Thursday off, for example, you will have those same days off every week of the year. As a new part-time employee with no seniority, I managed to avoid working on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day at both Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World by simply engineering my requested regular days off when I was hired in the summer.

Of course, not everyone can have the same regular days off, and holidays and special events fall on different days throughout the year, so your regular days off can only go so far. Nonetheless, it has been my experience that if something you want time off for happens to fall on your normal day off, you can be fairly certain that you won’t end up having to work.

2. Approved Day Off

Dinosaur - Disney's Animal Kingdom

An approved day off is a vacation day that you arrange in advance. Sometimes these requests go to a central computer system and are automatically approved or denied in first-come, first-served order. Sometimes they are submitted to the area supervisor for personal approval or denial, which might or might not be based on seniority. Because every location is different, it is very important to familiarize yourself with your area’s system during training. If your trainer forgets to point out this system, feel free to ask. Always put in your day off request as soon as you know you will need it.

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