No call, no show occurs when an employee is absent from work and has not notified their manager. A no call, no show policy sets expectations and explains the repercussions for this for the employee. To combat this in your workplace, I recommend you make a no call, no show policy part of a broader attendance policy. To save time, download our free no call, no show policy template.
By clearly laying out the policy and the penalties for violating the policy, you can reduce the frequency of your team members simply not showing up for work. It won’t eliminate the issue, but will make the penalties clear so you have no difficulty holding employees accountable.
4 Steps for Creating a No Call, No Show Policy
Before we get into creating your company’s policy, let’s first discuss being reasonable. Sometimes, emergencies happen. An employee could get into a car accident or have a sudden death in the family. In these instances, it’s rare that work is the first thing on their mind. Being reasonable will go a long way to enhancing employee engagement and loyalty.
1. Establish Rules
When creating policies, many companies want to keep them short and easy to read. That isn’t always the best practice. Your no call, no show policy needs to be comprehensive and leave nothing to the imagination.
Within general employment law boundaries, you have room to roam when creating your policy rules. For example, you may mandate that any employee who is not coming into work must call their manager at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start of their shift. Or you may be more lenient and allow employees to call or text their manager up to one hour after their scheduled start time.
The policy should include rules for what initial actions you will take if an employee does not show up for their shift. For example, perhaps you first call them. Maybe they overslept or something is wrong. Either way, you want to know that your employee is all right.
Assuming you cannot reach them after a few tries, you might then call the people on their emergency contact list. If your employee was in an accident or had a family emergency, these contacts may have information to convey to you. Once you know what’s happening, you can help support your employee—or reprimand them, if appropriate—and also schedule other employees to cover the gap.
Need an easy way to keep track of employee attendance? Download our free attendance tracker.
2. Determine Consequences for Violations
Consequences for one-off violations should exist but not be too severe. For example, the first time an employee violates your policy, you may choose to write them up or give some other formal reprimand. For a second offense, you may want to increase the penalties by adding a mandatory meeting with human resources and/or a one-day suspension.
Many companies establish consequences for termination after a certain number of absent days with no contact. I recommend setting this at three consecutive days and adding it to your no call, no show policy.
Three days gives the employee time to notify their manager. It also gives the company time to reach the employee or their emergency contacts. If, after three consecutive days, there has been no communication, then the employer may terminate the employment relationship for the employee’s job abandonment.
Deciding when to terminate an employee for continued violations of your no call, no show policy should be consistent with your stated policy. Terminating after one violation would be too harsh but three strikes is a suitable compromise. The three strikes rule applies in two situations: where an employee misses three consecutive days without contacting you and if an employee violates the no call, no show policy three times within a given timeframe, like a calendar year.
If you need to terminate an employee for violating your no call, no show policy, you should document everything and send the employee notice of their termination. In the case of three consecutive violations, you should communicate with the employee that your company has considered them to have abandoned their job and is ending the employment relationship. By stating that the employee has abandoned their job, a type of voluntary resignation, it will make it less likely that they can collect unemployment benefits or sue your company for wrongful termination.
Need guidance on how to fire an employee? Check out our guide on terminating employees.
3. Integrate Your No Call, Show Policy Into an Attendance Policy
A good no call, no show policy should not be a standalone policy for your company. Businesses should include their no call, no show policy as part of their broader attendance policy. Within a comprehensive attendance policy, which includes descriptions of your PTO and leave guidelines, no call, no show situations gain greater context. It documents for employees that they have benefits provided by your company but that there are also consequences should they violate your trust and expectations.
Need to create an attendance policy? Check our guide to creating one and download our free attendance policy template.
4. Communicate Your New Policy
Any time you create a new company policy, communicate it with your team. This gives them an opportunity to ask questions and have you ease any concerns.
Speaking with your employees also sets forth the clear guidelines of the policy. Be sure to mention how your company plans to be reasonable with emergencies but that you still intend to adhere to your policy. It’s also a good idea to have every employee sign an acknowledgement that they have read, understood, and agree to be bound by the policy. An additional best practice tip is to keep your no call, no show policy, along with all other company policies, in an easily accessible location for employees, like a company intranet or bulletin board.
For more tips on how to prevent no call no shows, check out our article on managing employee attendance.
No Call, No Show Policy Legal Guidelines
As with any company policy that covers areas of employment, you want to make sure you have your policy reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that your company is not violating any federal, state, or local employment laws. For the most part, no call, no show policies are lawful.
There is one area that can trip employers up, however, and that is whether and when to terminate an offending employee. I recommend that employers not terminate an employee after one violation of the policy. This can appear draconian to both employees and courts if an employee challenges their termination. The better approach is to have a statement in your no call, no show policy about separation from employment after a certain number of violations.
The best way for your company to stay out of hot water with your no call, no show policy is to enforce it equitably. Employees and courts can view unequal enforcement as discriminatory, which could violate several employment laws. This makes drafting a clear and comprehensive policy even more important since you will need to follow it every time.
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Family and Medical Leave Considerations
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) an employee may take unforeseeable leave, but only if the employee complies with the company’s time off policies, which should be part of your attendance policy. The exception to this rule is when there are unusual circumstances like a medical emergency.
So, before taking any corrective action, you’ll want to know if the employee took any FMLA or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) leave in the previous 12 months. If they did, terminating the employee could be seen in court as retaliation. Of course, if you cannot reach the employee, you may not know for sure. That’s why reinstatement, which we’ll discuss next, is an important consideration.
Some states and localities have enacted their own leave policies that go beyond the FMLA. Check your state’s requirements to make sure your no call, no show policy is compliant with the more restrictive laws.
Reinstating an Employee
If you have an employee who has violated your no call, no show policy three times, or whatever timeframe your policy states, you should follow your termination process. However, sometimes employees show back up after being absent and out of communication. This may happen if your employee was in the hospital or had a death in the family. While they could have found a few seconds to send a text, there could be legitimate reasons for their failure to contact you.
So, if you have already deemed that this employee has abandoned their job, can you reinstate them? Yes, you can, but you do not have to. And in every situation, you should let your policy be your guide.
Much of that decision will depend on the employee’s past performance and attendance record, so this isn’t always a straightforward decision and could be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, whatever path you choose, make sure your decision is without discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, and religion. This may be a situation where you need the guidance of legal counsel.
Developing a no call, no show policy may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you include this policy inside your broader attendance policy, it gives your employees better perspective for the reason for the policy.
When you roll your policy out to your team, they will want to know what happens if they violate the policy. By having clear guidelines and expectations, you can keep everyone on the same page and reduce the frequency that your employees miss work without notifying their managers.
To help get you started with your policy, we’ve created a no call, no show policy template that you can use or modify to fit your company’s needs. Please note that it is important to seek legal counsel before implementing your policy to ensure all aspects comply with your state or local employment laws.