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No Call/No Show Policy
Every company needs to have a no call/no show policy, but how do you develop an effective one, and what laws do you need to abide by? Read on to find the answers.

What Is a No Call/No Show Policy?

A no call/no show policy is an outline of the actions a company will take when a team member doesn’t show up for their shift and doesn’t inform anyone that they will be absent. It also specifies the steps that team members need to take if unforeseen circumstances cause them to miss their shift.

Why Is It Important to Have a No Call/No Show Policy?

Having a written policy in your handbook (which all employees should be required to acknowledge receipt of) gives you ground to stand on when a team member doesn’t show up for their assigned shift. Here are a few other benefits such a policy offers.
  • Provides an overview of action the company will take. You want your team members to know exactly what will happen if they fail to show up to work without calling. Having a written policy means there shouldn’t be any surprises when the company takes action against the employee.
  • Outlines steps the employee needs to take for unanticipated absences. There are times that team members must deal with unexpected circumstances. They are humans, and we should treat them as such. These situations could be anything from unexpected illnesses to car accidents and a sudden lack of child care. Your policy should include guidance on how and whom to alert at work when these situations arise.
  • Team members will be more productive. As with any policy, our goal is to increase productivity. By having a no call/no show policy, your employees are more likely to actually be at work because they know the consequences of not coming into work.

Federal and State Laws Relevant to No Call/No Show Policies

As with many different areas of HR, federal laws protect employees and their rights. While there isn’t a federal law protecting employees in the case of no call/no show, there are some instances where they may be protected by other laws. We will do a high-level overview of some of the most applicable laws.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Essentially, the Family Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of leave for either their own personal care or to care for their family members. If employees take this form of leave, they will obviously be absent for an extended period of time. They are not required to notify you each day they miss, so they are exempt from the no call/no show policy during FMLA leave.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA protects employees from discrimination based on their disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are protected under this act, including employees who have mental health challenges. If an employee doesn’t show up due to a disability, they may be protected under this act and can’t be punished for their no call/no show. In these situations, it is best to seek outside counsel such as employment attorneys to determine the appropriate course of action.

State Laws

States may have their own laws that protect employees or require companies to include certain things in their no call/no show policies. It is best to look up your local and state laws for the states your business operates in. You can locate these laws on your state's Department of Labor site.

How to Develop a No Call/No Show Policy

Now that we know the logic behind a no call/no show policy, we need to discuss how to develop it. The steps below make it simple and easy to develop your own.

Step 1: Determine What the Policy Will Include

It is important to identify what your organization needs from a no call/no show policy. This might include:
  • The time frame used to determine if an absence is a no call/no show or if an employee is simply late.
  • Expectations on what to do when they are unable to make it to an assigned shift: who do they call, text or email?
  • The process of how to excuse an absence if it was marked as a no show.
  • Who has the power to grant exceptions to the policy and how those exceptions are handled.
  • The progressive discipline process: what are the consequences after one no call/no show? Two instances within a certain period of time? More?
  • Exceptions due to relevant state or federal laws.

Step 2: Determine Consequences

You need to determine what actions the company takes in the event of a no call/no show. Many companies use the “Three Strike” rule, in which an employee gets three no call/no shows before termination. However, there are consequences following the first instance. A fairly common format is:
  • In the first instance of a no call/no show, the employee is issued some sort of written warning or coaching that they sign and that becomes part of their file.
  • After a second instance, a meeting with HR or with someone above the employee’s immediate supervisor is called. In this meeting, they also sign a form saying the meeting took place and that they understand the consequences of a third no call/no show.
  • In the event of a third instance, the employee's employment is terminated.
This is a general outline of what is commonly practiced with companies today; feel free to modify the above example to meet your needs.

Step 3: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

This step is probably the most important. If you haven’t had a no call/no show policy in place before now, you need to communicate the new policy to your employees. If you are modifying an existing policy, again, make sure your employees are aware. If you already have one, make sure your new hires and current employees are consistently made aware of the policy. This could come in the form of quarterly training or something of the sort. Also, have an open-door policy for your employees so they feel empowered to come in and ask questions if any arise.

Tips for Reducing No Call/No Shows

Prevention is always better than the cure. Below, we have outlined three tips to utilize in your workplace.

Tip 1: Communication

Wait, didn’t we just talk about this above? Yep, we did. It’s also an important step to include in reducing and preventing no call/no shows. Communication builds strong relationships. It’s important to talk about good things as well as bad things. This communication can’t just come from the HR team, either. You need to have your front line managers engaged in communicating regularly with their team members. If team members feel like a valuable asset to the company, the likelihood of no call/no shows decreases.

Tip 2: Culture

In order to build a strong culture with your front-line employees (the ones who are most likely to have a no call/no show situation) you need to listen to them. Figure out what’s important to them in a workplace and what motivates them. If they are motivated to perform well, they will be less likely to have a no call/no show scenario.

Tip 3: Be Understanding

We all have life happen to us, and it’s rarely at a convenient time. If you have an employee who has a no call/no show randomly and it’s a one-time occurrence, be understanding about that. Have a conversation with them, see what you can do to help them, and let them know they are an important piece of the team.
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Nick Staley

Nick Staley

Nick is a certified HR professional holding an SPHR and SHRM-CP. Nick has built HR teams from the ground up as well as worked for big corporations. Nick enjoys consulting and training those who are just getting started in HR. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family.
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