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Handling, or Preventing, a ‘No Call, No Show’ Employee
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Handling, or Preventing, a ‘No Call, No Show’ Employee


Employees who fail to show up and don’t even contact their supervisors can create significant problems.

A caterer may have trouble finding another server at the last minute. An auto repair shop will likely face delays in servicing cars. Office coworkers may have to take on new assignments or work overtime to cover for a colleague playing hooky.

Adding to the stress, the lack of communication means the boss has no idea what’s happening. Is the worker seriously ill or injured, sitting on a beach or simply walking away from the job?

Managers can better respond to “no call, no show” workers by developing a plan before the issue arises. Here are several moves to consider for handling -- and possibly preventing -- such situations.

Adopt a Policy

As one employment law firm notes, having a “no call, no show” policy in place lets employees know what repercussions they’d face. The policy can specify how far in advance workers need to request time off and outline different no-show consequences depending on circumstances.


The policy might state that no call-no shows have essentially left the job and can be dismissed, while a worker who returns to the office and explains the situation might receive a suspension or warning, according to the firm, which suggested the policy also address real emergencies that would justify the absence.

Make sure everyone knows the rules and consider consulting with a lawyer to make sure the policy complies with relevant employment laws.

Get Specific

It’s important to determine whether a no-show worker resigned or was fired, as a terminated employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits, one human resources consultant told HR Bartender. Some employers, she said, adopt policies stating that three no call-no shows amount to job abandonment, or resignation (not counting absences due to accident or illness).

Decide how many attendance issues amount to a disciplinary problem, Indeed.com suggests. You might establish intensifying disciplinary steps for workers with repeated absences.

Track Employees

Documenting employees’ hours is key to managing absences. After all, you can’t respond if you don’t know that someone has skipped a shift.

Tracking apps can help you know what’s happening with remote employees in the field or on the road. (They can also help you better manage costs and payroll and keep workers safe.)

Ask, Listen, Talk

A respectful, understanding culture can go a long way toward building employee morale and trust, so don’t automatically assume your no-show employee is headed to a ballgame. Before making accusations, ask what’s going on and find out if the employee is struggling or facing a crisis and needs support.

In fact, as FindLaw notes, firing an employee who has a legitimate excuse could create legal problems for the employer.

One expert cited by the Society for Human Resource Management suggested trying to contact the absent employee and notifying HR, which should check to see if the worker has taken Family Leave Medical Act or Americans with Disabilities Act leave in the past year or has a disability that may come into play.

Many company policies specify that employees who don’t show up or call for two or three days will be fired, another expert told SHRM. Some workers, however, might challenge the firing by claiming legitimate reasons that leave them legally protected. In that event, another expert added, employers should ask for documentation and reinstate a worker with a good explanation.

Make sure that an employee who missed work without a good excuse understands why it’s
important to the company and coworkers to show up as expected.

Enforce Fairly

It’s important to enforce the no call-no show policy consistently. Letting higher level or longtime staff members skip work without consequence may give other employees the impression you’re not serious about the policy -- or worse, that the rules don’t apply to favored workers.

Ensure that everyone knows your policies on absences, including no call-no show situations.

Dismissing the Worker

If, after talking or trying to reach the employee, it’s clear the worker violated policy and simply didn’t show up, firing may be the logical or only choice. Follow your established procedures for dismissing employees, explaining the reason for the action.

Send the worker’s last paycheck within the time required by state law, FindLaw recommends,
also suggesting you consult with an attorney for help in handling a no-show employee.

Promote Attendance

A healthy, happy work environment may inspire employees to arrive on time, ready to perform. Indeed suggests fostering work-life balance and, if possible, offering flexible schedules and remote work arrangements.

Clear policies, good communication and a positive environment should leave your company in a
better position to handle, or better yet prevent, no call-no show incidents.

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