What do you when an employee doesn’t show up for work, i.e., no call, no show? Accidents and emergencies can prevent employees from showing up to work and most of the time these cases can be remedied quickly once the employee is able to explain the situation. Yet there are cases when an employee simply stops showing up for work. The best way to protect both the company and the employee is to have a No Call No Show policy.

Create a No Call No Show (NCNS) Policy

Every company should have a written policy that states what is expected from employees for attendance. The NCNS policy should cover all aspects of taking time off work, including:

  • How to request PTO, including what digital or paper forms to fill out
  • How PTO can be used as vacation, sick time, staying home with sick kids, appointments, etc.
  • How to cover tasks while the employee is out
  • Who needs to be alerted when the employee is out
  • Which actions the employee needs to take, like setting up an out-of-office email reply
  • How far in advance PTO must be taken, specifically when it comes to vacations and time off during the holidays
  • How to manage last-minute PTO, like when an employee gets the flu
  • The latest an employee can notify a supervisor if work is going to be missed
  • Consequences for not calling or showing up to work for a certain number of days in a row

Once the policy is written, ask your employees to read and sign it to make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them. The best place to put your policy is in your employee handbook. An employee handbook covers all aspects of employees’ working environment and the company’s policies on communication, attendance, harassment, dress code, drug use and so on.

How to Enforce Your Policy

A written NCNS policy sets the ground rules for what happens if an employee fails to show up for work or doesn’t call to report his or her absence. Some companies might choose to create a zero-tolerance policy – i.e., one no call or no show absence and that worker is gone – while others might do a No Call No Show write-up for the first couple of absences, only terminating the employee after three no shows.

It is important to note that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which protects workers who need to take leave for medical reasons, gives employees a little leeway for unforeseeable medical absences. It allows employees to provide notice to employers as soon as it is possible and practical.

Consider this example: An employee takes his or her child to the emergency room for an urgent appendectomy. The employee is not required to leave the child to call work while the child is receiving medical treatment. However, the employee must contact the employer once they are able.

Accidents and emergencies happen. When enforcing a NCNS policy, employers should take steps to understand the reason behind an employee’s failure to show up for work. Best practices include:

  • Having a one-on-one discussion with the employee. Ask if there are issues that affect the employee’s ability to call in to work and remind them of the required procedures for taking PTO.
  • Reviewing the company’s no call no show termination policy with the employee. Remind the employee of the company’s right to terminate the employee.
  • Documenting each time the employee fails to show up for work.
  • Treating all employees the same. Enforce the NCNS policy for anyone who fails to show up for work.

Use Onboarding and Training to Ensure Employees Know Policy

Getting employees to read – and understand – your company’s attendance policy is essential to counteracting NCNS absences. Your company’s onboarding process is the best place to introduce how your company treats absences and the consequences of not showing up for work.

One of the objectives of onboarding is to make sure the employee is properly trained and equipped to be a productive part of the team. Onboarding also helps integrate new employees into the company culture, part of which is dependent on workers showing up and being productive. Employees will work better, and feel like part of the team, if they understand how important their job is and how their attendance affects their coworkers.

A good onboarding program should automate your onboarding process so new employees can read and sign documents from home, before their first day. Your new employees can not only fill out the necessary paperwork at home (saving time for HR and managers) but access employee handbooks and other policies. Onboarding software, like Arcoro Onboarding, allows employees to sign off on documents they’ve read and store them in a self-service hub that be accessed 24/7.

To reinforce policies, make reviewing them part of annual training. For example, Arcoro’s Learning Management System allows companies to upload their own documents and assign courses by job code or group. Both managers and HR can track progress and add electronic sign-off features. Managers should also review attendance during meetings on performance and give the employee an opportunity to ask questions about the No Call No Show policy or address any concerns.

Communicate Frequently

Communication is key when dealing with employee attendance, no matter if the absence falls under the FMLA, is an emergency situation or is simply the case of an employee who continually fails to show up.

For example, if an employee does need to be absent, ask them to give 30 days advance notice if the leave falls under the FMLA foreseeable circumstances. Businesses can also, require employees to request PTO at least two weeks before the date requested. Communicating when employees will be absent keeps everyone on the same page.

A scheduling app like ExakTime’s Scheduling Software, which is integrated into our web-based Time Clock Software, allows admins to set up shifts and tasks that appear on the employee schedule within the app as soon as they’re created, no phone call needed. Employees also receive either a text or email alert pre-shift so workers know exactly when and where their shift begins. Employers can also see who’s scheduled, who’s clocked in, who was late and who was a no show.

What to Do When a No Show No Call Employee Returns to Work?

In the event you have an NSNC employee situation, SHRM recommends the employee’s supervisor first call the employee and then alert HR to the absence. And, before taking disciplinary action, take steps to make sure the absence doesn’t fall under the FMLA regulations of unforeseeable

Circumstances. Steps to take can include:

  • Check the employee’s file to see if there were any FMLA or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) leave in the past year. SHRM notes that if the employee has been granted leave due to FMLA or ADA, firing the employee may leave your company open for proving retaliation.
  • Check with the employee’s supervisor or manager to see if the employee has a disability that needs accommodation.
  • After calling the employee, follow up with a text and e-mail.
  • When the employee returns to work, if there is no legitimate excuse for not calling, give a verbal warning, explain the company’s attendance policy and talk about future disciplinary action.
  • After the meeting, email the employee the details of what was discussed and add a copy of the email to the employee’s file.

When does it make sense to reinstate an NCNS employee?

Typically, if an employee hasn’t showed up or called in to work for three consecutive days, it is seen as a voluntary resignation. But, while rare, there are circumstances where an employee simply cannot call, even after three consecutive days of missing work, as in the death of a child or spouse. When these rare circumstances present themselves, after hearing the explanation, you can choose to reinstate the employee. SHRM recommends looking at the employee’s track record. Did they typically have a good attendance rate? Have they adhered to company policies in the past? The key is to review the case thoroughly before making the decision for a no call no show termination.