No call, no show—when an employee misses work and doesn’t call to let the employer know—is an issue that plagues businesses of all sizes, but can be especially detrimental to small businesses.
Having a no call, no show policy sets expectations and explains the repercussions of this to the employee. To create one, you’ll first establish your rules and determine the consequences. Then, we recommend you integrate it into a broader attendance policy before rolling out the policy to your employees. Continue reading for more detail on each of these steps, and download our free no call, no show policy template below to get started.
1. Establish Policy Rules
An employee who doesn’t show up for their shift is essentially stealing from their co-workers who have to pick up the slack. Not only is it inconsiderate, but it’s also unprofessional. That’s why it’s important to have clear no call, no show policy rules in place. The foundational rule is that a no call, no show violation will result in an unexcused absence.
An absence is when an employee fails to report to work when scheduled. Absences are defined as either excused or unexcused.
- Excused absences – When an employee schedules time off with their manager and per company paid time off (PTO) policy, or when an employee has an emergency and provides their manager notice before the start of their shift.
- Unexcused absences – When an employee fails to report to work on time and does not contact their manager or supervisor before the start of their shift, regardless of the reason.
Your no call, no show policy needs to be comprehensive and clearly outline the rules and regulations, including the consequences of violating the policy. 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 allow employees to call or text their manager up to one hour after their scheduled start time.
Some things to consider when establishing your policy include:
- How many times an employee can miss a shift before they face consequences. It’s important to be consistent with this rule so that employees know what they’re getting into.
- The initial actions that will be taken if an employee does not show up for their shift. This could range from a verbal warning to being fired depending on the severity of the offense.
- Possible exceptions to the policy. Determine if one-off emergencies will be a violation of the policy.
2. Determine Consequences for Violations
No call, no show can be a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behavior. When it is a pattern, it can be a sign that the employee is not committed to the job. Your policy should include rules for what initial actions you will take if an employee does not show up for their shift.
- First Offense – For the first unexcused absence, an employee may receive a verbal or written warning, which will be placed in their personnel record.
- Second Offense – For the second unexcused absence, an employee will receive a written warning and a verbal consultation with their manager and HR to explore solutions to prevent this behavior in the future.
- Third Offense – If an employee has three or more unexcused absences, including a no call, no show, in a calendar year, they are subject to additional disciplinary action, including suspension and/or termination of employment.
- Job Abandonment – Many companies establish consequences for termination after a certain number of absent days with no contact. It is recommended that you set this at three consecutive days and add it to your no call, no show policy.
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 considers them to have abandoned their job. Stating that the employee has abandoned their job, a type of voluntary resignation, will make it less likely they can collect unemployment benefits or sue your company for wrongful termination.
3. Integrate Your No Call, No 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.
To ensure your no call, no show guidelines don’t get overlooked, make sure your entire attendance policy is clear and concise. The more details you provide, the clearer an understanding your employees will have.
4. Communicate Your New Policy
Any time you create a new company policy, communicate it with your team. This allows them to ask questions and ease any concerns.
Speaking with your employees also sets forth the clear guidelines of the policy. Be sure to mention that although your company intends to adhere to the policy, it will be fair and reasonable. Sometimes, emergencies happen. In these instances, work is rarely the first thing on an employee’s mind. Being reasonable will go a long way to enhancing employee engagement and loyalty.
It’s also a good idea to have every employee sign an acknowledgement that they have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the policy.
Additionally, 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. This ensures that all employees have access to the policy and cannot claim they were unaware.
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. It is recommended that employers not terminate an employee after one violation of the policy. This can appear harsh to both employees and the 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.
For more tips on how to prevent no call, no shows, check out our article on managing employee attendance.
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 a better perspective of 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.
New to managing employees? Check out our guide to employee management for practical advice.