Even though I have a pretty solid answer to my own question I like to put these out there to get a wider perspective and i also know others may benefit from the answers as they will come across or have done in the past, these types of grey areas.

SO, assuming you have a written or unwritten policy on excessive late and absenteeism,

if an aquatic employee brings a doctors note does it excuse or delete the occurrence of being late or absent. does this also include other hardships such as death in family or traumatic events such as a pet injury?

OR 

is a late a late and an absent an absent regardless of the reason as it impacts business flow and service to a small or great degree?

Thank you in advance for any comments regarding this,

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Once the schedule is published our staff becomes responsible for that shift being covered, whether they cover it themselves or secure a substitute.  With that being said if the employee becomes sick or injured or has a family tragedy we ask they notify us as soon as possible.  If they are capable of finding their own sub we ask for their help because it is still their responsibility, we will give them a list of employees whose availability covers the shift, but if they're unable we will do the calling ourselves.  Generally we treat each call-in on a case by case basis, and if we feel that their call-in was fraudulent we will ask for a Dr. note or else disciplinary action can result. 

I always tell them "It is our responsibility to care for the lives and safety of our patrons by being properly staffed, and it is your responsibility to help us do that"

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