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No Call No Show Policy. How Should You Handle It?

As long as they can provide some level of advance notice, they allow their manager or you as the business owner to plan around the absence. The real problem arises when employee absenteeism is a surprise. A no call no show is much harder to navigate than an expected employee absence and can cause stress and struggle for the other staff on shift, and for you as the business owner.

That’s why a no call no show policy is essential for every business, particularly for small businesses. When you don’t have many staff available at the best of times, one of them missing work unexpectedly can have a significant impact on performance, which can mean the difference between a profitable day and an unprofitable one. But a good no call no show policy is about more than protecting you as the business owner: it’s also about generating respect and accountability between you and your employees.

What is a no call no show?

Employee absences are, of course, completely fine in most situations; you can’t expect your employees to work every hour, every day. What’s important is that they provide adequate notice so that you have time to find someone to cover their shift. A no call no show describes the circumstance in which an employee doesn’t give any notice for an absence at work, leaving you surprised and unprepared to cover their absence.

How does the no call no show affect you?

Being on the receiving end of a no call no show is stressful, especially for new business owners. Having to scramble to find a replacement at the last minute can completely reorganize your priorities for the day. Many small business owners will need to fill in for no call no show employees themselves, losing out on time that could have been spent on managing the business or preparing for future developments.

How does a no call no show affect your performance?

An unplanned absence can be expensive or even dangerous for your business. If the staff member in question has a particular responsibility or unique skill, finding someone to replace them on short notice might not be possible. This could lead to you not being able to provide a certain service for the duration of their shift, such as closing down the coffee machine because the barista didn’t turn up one morning. If it’s a particularly experienced staff member that doesn’t show up, you may find that none of your other staff are able to fulfill the role to the same level. For example, can you trust an untrained retail staff member on filling in for your security guard? All of these situations create an environment where performance suffers and can mean dissatisfied customers, revenue loss, or worse.

What is a no call no show policy?

As a business owner, you need to set out a clear company policy for your employees so that they know what is required of them in terms of notice, and what to do if an emergency arises that means they have to miss work. An attendance policy factored into your employee handbook takes the guesswork out of employee absence, and gives you as the business owner a procedure and disciplinary actions to refer to in a no call no show situation. This both prepares you to navigate the stressful situation, while at the same time ensuring your employees give you notice before missing work in the first place.

No call no show policies should be a part of your employee handbook, a document that all new hires are introduced to upon joining the company and something that existing employees should refer to regularly. Large companies involve human resources in developing an employee handbook, filled with relevant policies and resources that cover everything from how to request time off, to what to do in emergency scenarios while on the job. If you don’t have an HR department, it’s not the end of the world: there are many resources online on how to write up employee policies. You can start with your first no call no show policy!

How do you address a no call no show?

In its simplest form, a no call no show policy should set out clear guidelines around:

·   How much notice an employee needs to give before an absence

·   What to do in an unforeseen emergency situation

·   The disciplinary actions for any employees that do not follow the policy

Be fair but firm in setting out your notice period. You want to cover the period where you make your schedule so that you don’t spend too long rearranging timetables, but at the same time, you can’t expect your employees to see into the future. Two to three weeks is a common notice period for many businesses, while some stretch to 1 month.

Also, make sure to have a clear policy regarding last minute emergencies. Sick leave is an essential employee right, and while sometimes an employee can give an early warning of their health situation, they often can’t plan when they’re going to be off sick. And, if one of your employees gets into a car accident on the way to work that morning, they might not be able to give you more than an hour or so of notice. Be clear in your employee handbook that this does not count as a breach of the attendance policy, but also ask for some evidence of the emergency situation so that employees have a legitimate reason to miss work, and don’t take advantage of this clause.

What do you say on a no call no show?

Let’s assume that you have set out a clear no call no show police and your employees are well aware of it. What do you do the first time someone doesn’t turn up for work? Well, it can depend on the nature of your business, your relationship with your employees, and your management style, but there are some common sense places to start. Try to get in touch with the employee to see what the situation is. Don’t immediately assume the worst; they may just be running late with a dead cell phone! If you can’t get in touch with them, reach out to other staff members to see if they have any more information. You could also use this time to get a feel for what staff could come in last minute to cover the missing person’s shift.

Okay, so you’ve tried to reach out to everyone you can think of and there’s still no news. It’s time to start considering this a no call no show. At this stage, it’s important not to think about how you are going to discipline the unexcused absence. Focus your energy on covering for the missing person, finding a replacement, and getting through the shift.

Assuming you manage to get in contact with the person in question (and this isn’t a case of complete job abandonment), set up a formal meeting to discuss what happened. Try your best to see their side of the story; a zero-tolerance policy in these scenarios is rarely justifiable. All the same, it’s important that you enact some disciplinary action to show other employees the consequences of a no call no show.

Do you get fired after a no call no show?

As mentioned above, a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to absences is rarely recommended. It’s important to hold your employees accountable, but if they aren’t allowed to put a step wrong for risk of being fired it’s hard to promote a sense of comfort and belonging in the workplace. Firing someone after one no call no show is a very dramatic step that should only be considered if their absence led to a seriously dangerous scenario.

However, termination should be on the table for employees who are frequently absent or away for consecutive days without warning. Many businesses apply a tiered disciplinary response to no call no shows. For example, the first no call no show without legitimate reason results in a verbal warning that goes on the employee’s record. The second incurs a written warning, docked pay, or other escalated response. If an employee misses work without warning and without good reason three or more times, they are clearly not committed to the company, and firing them should be a legitimate consideration.

Example of a no call no show policy

Here is an example of what a no call no show policy might look like:

Notice Expectations

Employees are expected to arrive at work on time for their scheduled shifts. Team members are required to provide a minimum of two weeks’ advance notice when requesting time off. In the case of illness, accident, or emergency, employees must notify their manager verbally via a phone call where physically possible, 24 hours before the start of their shift. If 24 hours is not possible, notify the manager as soon as possible before the start of your shift.

Evidence Required

Your manager may ask for evidence of an emergency absence in the form of a doctor’s note or other official notice explaining the reason for your absence.

Definition of a No Call No Show

A no call no show has occurred when an employee fails to arrive on time to their shift without alerting their manager. A no call no show is registered 15 minutes after the beginning of a shift. Each missed shift counts as a separate no call no show instance.

Disciplinary Actions

·   First instance of a no call no show: Verbal warning

·   Second instance: Written warning

·   Third instance: Termination

Tom Quinn |
Tom (he/him) is a growth marketing manager at Snagajob helping small businesses find hourly workers.