How to Handle Employee No Call, No Show at Work

How to Handle Employee No Call, No Show at Work
By Cristina Johnson | 4 minute read

It’s not unusual for employees to need some time off, and even with the rise of remote work following the COVID-19 pandemic, employees may still need to take paid time off - for example, a medical emergency. 

But when employees fail to show up for their jobs, this causes a lot of problems, especially if it happens regularly. This post is a guide on how to handle employee no call, no show.

What is a No Call, No Show (NCNS) Employee?

Simply put, an employee no call, no show is any worker who fails to show up to perform their duties when they are supposed to, and does not notify their superiors they will be absent.

Of course, accidents happen, and an employee's absence could be due to something beyond their control, but ideally, your workers should provide you with ample notification of their need to take time off or come in late.

What Happens When an Employee Does Not Show Up for Work?

When an employee doesn’t show up to work, it can be a serious blow to your company. An unplanned absence of a worker can set your whole company back because you have to scramble to fill their position since you weren’t prepared for their absence. 

Research from the Society of Human Resource Management found aside from a 36 percent average loss in productivity, organizations ranked eight key issues that an unplanned absence has on their companies:

  1. Adds to workload 69% 
  2. Increases stress 61% 
  3. Disrupts work of others 59% 
  4. Hurts morale 48% 
  5. Reduces quality of work 40% 
  6. Adds mandatory overtime 29% 
  7. Requires additional training 20% 
  8. Penalizes or reflects badly on group/team 19% 

Companies need the presence and expertise of each of their employees to run efficiently. As with any well-oiled machine, if a part is missing, it won’t run as well. With these negative impacts of an employee no call, no show, your customers will likely have a less than favorable experience with your product or service.

If you don’t have guidelines in place to ensure your employees understand your attendance policy, they won’t have as much regard for showing up to work, and you won’t have much to fall back on in the way of discipline.

How To Deal With Employees No Call, No Show 

Why Should A Company Have a Policy for No Call, No Show? 

Setting up a strict policy for no call, no show will decrease the chances of it happening, or even prevent it. To manage selfish employees, having an employee no call, no show policy is crucial.

Many employees are dishonest about why they were absent. In fact, over 4.3 million employees confessed to being untruthful to their employers about a day off of work. Be aware of false excuses workers will use to get out of work. Here are some common fibs workers will use to escape the office:  

  1. Illness (Although this seems valid, this is the most common excuse workers use) 
  2. Slept through the alarm / Alarm clock broke 
  3. Lost Phone 
  4. Hungover 
  5. Missed Bus/car trouble

How to Deal With Employee No Call, No Shows

Each company has its own policy for dealing with no call, no show employees. Some terminate the employee after 2-3 days of job abandonment. Others fire the employee after the first no call, no show with no excuses. 

When constructing your company’s no call, no show policy, figure out how strict you want to be about it. Will you give your workers a chance to explain themselves? Will you let go of your employees after the first no call, no show? These are questions you have to ask yourself when making the policy. 

1. Establish a Set of Rules Everyone is Required to Follow 

Having a steady set of rules for work attendance will give you some controllability over what is to happen to employees who fail to show up to work without informing you. An attendance policy establishes rules for what employees are expected to do when it comes to their attendance, and will also explain the amount and types of leave allowed within your organization. These include sick leave, holiday leave, unpaid leave, medical leave, or any other types of leave provided. It should also explain when employees can go on leave and how they should request it.

Your attendance policy should include definitions of terms and expectations in the event of absences or tardiness. Those would include:

  • Absence
  • Unscheduled absence
  • Tardiness
  • No call/No-show
  • Sick-leave
  • Paid time off (PTO) requests

Each of these should have explanations for the penalties for unscheduled absences, frequent tardiness, and no call/no shows.

Different employers impose different types of penalties for these things, so it will be up to you to establish what your company’s policies will be. Most often, penalties increase in severity with each infraction. For example, first offenses receive a verbal warning, then written, then suspension, then termination. 

Most employers will also reset the disciplinary infractions after a year, and you might also run into issues where the unscheduled absences are due to emergencies.

Paid time off

2. Make a No Call, No Show Policy 

A no call, no show policy should be included with your attendance policy, which clearly defines what a no call/no show employee is: When a worker does not report to work at their scheduled time and does not notify the employer.

Once you have clearly defined what no call, no show means to your company. Present the consequences if it were to happen. These consequences depend on whether or not the employee comes back for work. Here are some common consequences:  

  • Mandatory Workshop - Have your no call, no show employees attend a workshop about why this is not accepted at your company. Then present to them what is to happen next if it were to recur.

  • Suspension - If the employee goes back to work after 1 day of no call, no show, suspend them for X amount of days as a warning.

  • Termination - If the employee does not show up 2-3 days in a row, begin the firing process. 

 Before you go about enacting the consequences for a no call, no show employees, try to contact them. You will never know the reason for their absence if you never try to get a hold of them. The employee could be seriously injured, jailed, or may have had a death in the family. If you are unable to contact them, proceed with the consequences.

After you have drafted your no show, no call policy, present it to a lawyer to make sure you are going about this issue legally. Each state has different laws regarding making a no call, no show policy, so make sure you get a lawyer who specializes in your state’s employment laws. 

3. Communicate These Rules/Policies to Your Employees

Once you have your policies in place, present it to your employees and make sure they understand it. As you know, communication is key. As a part of your onboarding process, have your new hires sign that they have received these attendance guidelines and understand them. Keep the signed form in their personnel file so you can use it if a time comes when they need to be reminded. 

Avoid Employee No Call No Shows

When employees fail to show up to work when they’re supposed to, it causes a lot of problems in the workplace. From lower morale and less productivity, to the costs associated with unscheduled absences, employers need to ensure no call, no show employees are appropriately disciplined. If you’re in the construction space, find out more about how time off work impacts your construction projects.


Is No Call, No Show the Same as Employee Absenteeism?

While they may seem to be the same thing, they are different. Employee absenteeism refers to an employee who consistently does not show up when they are supposed to. No call, no show employees may do so only once due to an unforeseen circumstance rather than job abandonment.

Can You Get Fired for One No Call No Show?

Most companies will have a policy in place to explain what happens in the event of a no call, no show employee but, unless it is a common occurrence, usually one incident is disciplined with a verbal warning.

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