How to Handle Employee No Call, No Shows

employee abseentizm, no call no show

What happens when an employee fails to show up for work and has not made efforts to call in or notify you of their absence?

This can be frustrating to employers, supervisors, and HR managers who need to fill the position. Even their colleagues will get stressed, knowing they’ll have to cover an extra shift.

In most cases, it’s easy to blame a no-call, no-show employee, and the obvious cause of action is termination. After all, the AdvancePCS Center for Work and Health reports that absenteeism costs U.S. companies $225.8 billion a year.

However, given the high turnover rate, you could try to understand the cause of absence and failure to call in before taking such drastic action.

What Does No Call No Show Mean?

A no call no show describes a scenario where an employee fails to show up for work. Moreover, they do not give advance notice to the employer, supervisor, or HR manager. These situations are pretty frequent in most companies, and in our post today, we focus on how to handle no call no show employees.

It’s understandable that in life, emergencies can happen when we least expect it—from car troubles to death in the family to sudden hospitalization.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.3% of the country’s workforce miss work due to injuries and illnesses. We can’t control some of these things.

However, as a business owner, you’d expect total commitment and engagement from all your employees. You know that the success of your operations depends on teamwork. So, you strive to provide them with a decent working environment, fair treatment, and an open line of communication.

Most employees will follow your no call no show policy. They’ll do so even if there’s an emergency that prevents them from calling until the next day. They may even have a family member call in on their behalf.

How to Handle No Call No Show Employees

There’s still that employee who doesn’t call doesn’t show up, and doesn’t respond to your attempts to reach out to them. They go missing for several days and you should have a clear plan what to do.

  1. Attempt to Contact the Employee: Make additional efforts to contact the employee through various means (phone, email, emergency contact) to ascertain their situation. It’s important to express concern for their well-being rather than immediately assuming misconduct.
  2. Document Attempts to Contact: Keep a record of all attempts to reach the employee, including dates, times, and methods of communication. This documentation is important for any future actions.
  3. Consider the Employee’s History: Take into account the employee’s work history and past behavior. If the absence is out of character, it might indicate that something serious has happened.
  4. Legal and Privacy Considerations: Be aware of legal and privacy issues. Employers should respect the privacy of the employee and avoid making assumptions or sharing information inappropriately.
  5. Implement the Policy: If there is no response from the employee, proceed according to the company’s established policy. This might include formal warnings, or eventually, termination of employment if the employee does not make contact or provide a reasonable explanation.
  6. Support Upon Return: If the employee returns to work, discuss the absence with them in a private and supportive manner. Offer assistance or resources if the absence was due to personal or health-related issues.
  7. Review Policies and Communication: Regularly review and update absence policies and ensure that all employees are aware of the procedures and expectations related to unplanned absences.

Tips to Avoid No Call No Show Cases

Establish and Update a No Call No Show Policy

Employees being absent for several days can cause significant stress for managers and colleagues. Therefore, the best approach is to proactively address and prevent the issue before it occurs.

“Utilizing time tracking and activity monitoring software, such as Traqq, can significantly enhance employee engagement and focus on work tasks. This may lead to a higher level of self-discipline and a reduction in instances of ‘no call, no show’.”

That is, you have to create a no call no show policy that stipulates expectations for attendance. You should also ensure that employees fully understand the details of the policy and that a no call no show violation is unacceptable.

The expectations for employee attendance will be unique to your company, depending on various factors like the model and structure of your business.

Some employers have policies stating that an employee will be fired after two or three days of absence. That’s if they haven’t called in to notify management of their absence. Others are not so lenient and a no call no show termination may be effective after just one day of absence.

A no call no show policy explains all work policies, so employees know exactly what to expect if they violate one of the rules. The policy must contain clear guidelines explaining how much notice an employee should give if they can’t come to work. The policy covers a wide range of reasons, including personal time, family emergencies, sick leave, and so on.

With such a policy in place, an employee will be held accountable for their actions, and the employer can take the necessary action to enforce it. When formulating the policy, some of the questions you need to ask include:

  • How do I discipline such an employee?
  • What are the consequences of an employee’s absence?
  • How do I send a message to the rest of the staff to show that ‘no call no shows’ are not acceptable?
  • Can I find someone else to cover their shift?

Additionally, here are a few key points to consider when creating attendance rules:

  • Establish a clear procedure for requesting absence
  • Set realistic disciplinary actions for no call no show absences
  • Define clearly the difference between excused and unexcused absences
  • Treat all employees equally
  • Indicate how many days of absence without notifying a supervisor the employee will be considered as to have abandoned their job
  • Indicate the consequences if a no call no show were to happen. Examples of consequences include suspension, no call no show write-ups, mandatory workshop, and termination.

A policy will protect you from employees who seek legal action citing small technicalities.

Make Sure All Employees Understand the Policy

Creating a policy is not enough. You must ensure that all workers understand what’s required of them and have signed a document confirming that they agreed to the policy. New hires should also be taught about the work attendance and absences policy. You can do this during orientation or an initial meeting with the new hires.

Show your employees how important it is to be at work on time and perform their tasks as scheduled. They must know that you take discipline in the workplace seriously. When they understand the reasons behind the policy, they will have greater respect for it.

Communication with Your Employees Is Crucial


While a no call no show can be frustrating, there’s likely to be an explanation behind it all. So, instead of getting angry, consider looking into why this is happening. Schedule a one-on-one session with the no-call, no-show employee when they come to work and talk about the problem.

The employee could be dealing with a personal or family issue that is affecting her performance, or it could be due to a lack of motivation. By actively listening to the person, you can have a better understanding of their situation and may even be able to help them. A simple change from the morning to the evening shift or giving them a day off may make a huge difference in your employee’s life. Of course, this will have an impact on your business’ success.

Likewise, help employees to understand how their absence may make it stressful for their teammates. This may reduce such situations.

Make Scheduling Easier

If you want a high-performing team, make scheduling as easy as possible. Establish a schedule that works for them, and you’ll have a team of satisfied and motivated employees. Now, when employees are happy, the positive effects will be reflected in improved performance and productivity.

Make employee scheduling clear so they can see exactly when they should work. This will prevent mix-ups and no call no show excuses. A project management tool may come in handy in such cases since employees can always check what is lined up for them for the day or week.

A solution like Traqq time tracking app takes it even a step further by providing team leaders with screenshots of the progress of the work. This way, you can tell if the employee is on track or lagging behind.

Additionally, Traqq captures not only the hours worked but also frequently visited apps and websites, giving you a hint of what the employee was doing during working hours.

You should also consider making the process of requesting time off simple. Employee burnout is considered as one of the top reasons for a no call no show. More importantly, give the staff members the power to fill their shifts.

Evaluate Emergencies

There will be instances when, due to an emergency, an employee may not be able to call in promptly. In this digital age, with all the means of communication available, this might seem rare—but it still happens.

For instance, when an employee loses a child or a spouse, calling in might not be his or her priority. The same case may apply in case of a medical emergency, where the worker doesn’t have access to a phone.

Before making a rushed decision, it’s advisable to look deeper into the circumstances that led to the employee’s absence without giving prior notice.

Know Your Employees

Apart from encouraging communication in the workplace, it’s important to know your employees up close. You can take them out for coffee or lunch, and talk about non-work-related stuff. This will help you learn if they are dealing with stress at home or work.

You can even decide to change the terms of employment. For example, you can allow them to work part-time, until they resolve their personal issues.

Call the Employee to Make Sure They Are Okay

Make Sure They Are Okay

If an employee fails to show up and doesn’t call, try calling them to find out if they are okay. It could be an emergency, and they aren’t in a position to reach out. Even if your call goes to voicemail, leave a message showing your concern and ask them to get back to you as soon as possible.

This will show that you care about your team and will strengthen your employee/employer relationship.

How to Avoid No Call No Show Incidents?

Of course, it’s not always possible to eliminate no call no show instances. However, you can take steps to ensure that such absences don’t ruin your business. Here are some tips on what you can do:

  • Get yourself an employee scheduling app or employee monitoring software to help you find workers to cover shifts in case an employee doesn’t show up unexcused.
  • Avoid making employees work too many shifts that they find it hard to manage.
  • Make it easier for employees to request time off. Otherwise, they may find it easier to deal with the consequences of a no call no show than request time off.
  • Review your no call no show policy, employee scheduling, and attendance rules to see areas that need improvement. The guidelines and schedule should be clear enough and easy for employees to comprehend. It should also be flexible.
  • Deal with no call no show incidents the right way, according to your policy. Remember that your employees know the rules, so there must be genuine reasons why they couldn’t call in. Avoid jumping to conclusions and always evaluate the circumstances.

No Call No Show Excuses

Even with well-laid out rules, some employees will still fail to show up to work and not call in in advance. So, the challenge is how to identify a no call no show situation. Not all excuses are valid enough to pass for legitimate ones for missing work. In such a scenario, a no call no show directive may be executed.

Here are some of the most common excuses that employees give when they don’t show up for work:

  • I was not feeling well
  • I had a bad hangover
  • My alarm broke
  • I missed the bus
  • I lost my phone

These excuses are not communicated. Instead, the employee shows up expecting the employer to sympathize with their situation.

Valid excuses include:

  • Family emergencies, such as accidents, fire, or medical situations
  • Appointments that can’t be rescheduled, like court appearances
  • Major events that could not be rescheduled
  • Chronic illnesses, such as cancer

What If a No Call No Show Employee Reappears?

In most cases, no call no show employees can be fired with no legal implications. However, what if they show up and claim that federal laws cover their absence? Here are some measures you can take:

Get Into the Details

You may have exhausted all means to contact the employee, but they may have a reasonable explanation for why they were unreachable. In this case, you should consider reinstatement as an option, especially after checking the person’s track record.

If the worker is usually diligent before this event, then perhaps, you should give them another chance. However, if they’ve had a history of disregarding company policies, then termination would weigh heavier among your choices.

Even so, you should be careful about possible biases and demographics. You could be violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if your final action commonly comes out on the short end for a particular group of individuals. Navigating these waters, especially with a class-action lawsuit, will prove to be difficult. So, your HR department should handle this carefully.

Be Mindful of Unlawful Termination

In some cases, returning no call no show employees may threaten to file a lawsuit in retaliation. Keep in mind that certain individuals have conditions protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Indeed, employees need to follow protocols when calling in. However, if their circumstance is protected by these laws, they will have strong legal bearing in a lawsuit. So, even before you decide to terminate an employee, you should go through every little detail, including labor protection coverage.

In Conclusion…

As an employer, dealing with a no call no show employee can be frustrating. When the latter doesn’t show up or communicate for three consecutive days, it can be considered as job abandonment. This can be grounds for termination. Only a legitimate no call no show excuse can reverse the assumption that the employee has been neglecting his or her duties.

Having said that, employers should not assume that a no call no show incident was intentional, deliberately firing the employee. You should seek to figure out why it happened in the first place.

Most importantly, be sure to create a realistic no call no show policy. Of course, make sure that every employee understands the consequences of not showing up without informing the supervisor or HR manager.

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emily kaczor

Hi, Im not finding the answer so i’m wondering if you can respond. If an employee is scheduled for a shift, plans to not come in, finds coverage but still does not notify management, is this also considered a no call no show? you have someone show up to work in your place but failed to notify any source of management.

Traqq Team

Yes, in most cases, if an employee is scheduled for a shift, plans not to come in, but finds coverage without notifying management, it can still be considered a form of “no call no show.”

The reason for this is that even though the employee found coverage and someone else showed up to work in their place, they failed to follow the proper protocol for reporting their absence to management. Proper communication with management is essential for various reasons, including:

Accountability: Management needs to know who will be working and who won’t on any given shift to ensure adequate staffing and smooth operations.

Record-keeping: Employee attendance records are crucial for tracking attendance trends, handling payroll, and assessing employee performance.

Emergency situations: In case of emergencies or sudden changes in the schedule, management needs to be aware of employee availability and absence.

By not informing management about the planned absence, the employee creates disruptions in the workplace. Even though there was coverage provided, management may not have been prepared for the situation, which could lead to confusion or issues in the workflow.

To handle situations like this professionally and responsibly, employees should always follow their company’s attendance policy and communicate any planned absences or schedule changes to management in advance. If there is a need to find coverage, employees should still inform management about their absence and the arrangements they’ve made.

Remember, open and transparent communication is crucial in any work environment to ensure smooth operations and maintain a positive relationship between employees and management.

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