What do you do when work begins and your employee is nowhere to be found? A missing-in-action situation that is termed ‘No Call No Show’ in professional circles, emerges. Where you have to decide the next course of action — starting with whether the employee is absent due to an emergency or because they have left without notice. Once that is decided and out of the way, the next steps begin.

A job abandonment scenario and a no call no show are more common than we know. In this article, we will put together all the information that you’d require when you are put into a situation like this.

What is Considered a No Call No Show?

An employee no show or a no call no show means what it sounds like. When an employee is scheduled to show up for work but is a no-show for their shift. In other words, a no call no show happens when your employee is completely missing in action. What do you do then?

A no call no show is a type of job abandonment, on the part of the employee. But, how to decide that it is really an abandonment and not an emergency? What if your employee is simply stuck in an emergency? Clearly, declaring a no call no show would be unfair. 

The question is, how to decide when an undeclared absence on the part of an employee has turned into a no call no show affair? That’s why the organization needs to have a no call no show policy in place, which will help HR deal with such situations.

Why Do You Need a No Call No Show Policy?

Every organization has an attendance policy. Consider the no call no show policy as an extension of it. Having this policy clears up a lot of things for the employees at the start of their employment. It is also a useful guide for HR, in case the actual situation arises.

  • It streamlines the entire process, both for the employees and the employer
  • A no call no show policy reduces the chances of unnecessary terminations
  • The employees are aware of expectations from them and the repercussions in the case of a job abandonment scenario, at the time of hiring and so they act accordingly
  • A no call no show policy instills better professional ethics in the employees

A policy in such cases ensures that there is room for a no call no show explanation and even a corrective action for no call no show. It also eases things for the HR who no longer has to bear the headache of how many no call no shows before termination if such a situation arises because it is already stated in the policy.

Having a no call no show policy is one of the steps. But, how to implement it if the time comes?

Steps to Deal with a No Call No Show

A no call no show situation may be tricky to deal with. For starters, unlike other leave of absence, a no call no show has to be verified first, whether it is a genuine emergency or a job abandonment. Here is how you can deal with an employee’s no call no show.

Step 1: Set up Attendance Rules

This is more of a preventive measure before the actual situation arises. Any establishment needs a form and structure in the form of rules, and creating rules of attendance is surely a part of it. Now, this can be done in the form of a mutual system of understanding, when the team is small. But, as the organization grows, personal relationships give way to professional ones and you need policies to set things in place. Having clear rules set out for attendance is the first one. It helps regulate employee absenteeism and controls activities such as employee time theft. It also establishes a clear understanding regarding attendance policies and paves the way for all the related policies, including a no call no show policy.

Following are a few tips on how to create an effective attendance policy:

  • Create an attendance tracking system and communicate the same in an effective manner
  • Elaborate different aspects of the attendance policy
  • Explain what would be considered absenteeism and even a no call no show
  • Ensure that the policy is easy to understand and free of jargon
  • Establish the difference between excused absence and unexcused absence
  • Chart out what causes are considered serious and legitimate enough for an unexcused absence

Note that this is an illustrative list and not an exhaustive one. Know your organization, study the industry, observe your employees and create a policy that suits your organization the best.

Step 2: Create a No Call No Show Policy

Once you have created your attendance policy, then is time to think about a no call no show one. Consider it an auxiliary to your original attendance policy and guidelines. While the attendance policy takes care of the entire employee presence and absence, this policy is created to explain an absence that has not been intimated in advance. Not having a no call no show policy can have the employees taking the organization for a ride, which is the last thing you need.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while crafting a no call no show policy.

  • How should the administration deal with last-moment leave of absence?
  • How can the employee apply for an unplanned leave of absence?
  • What is the substitutive course of action in the case of an unplanned leave?
  • Is there any documentation required?
  • How can the employees utilize personal leaves?

A no call no show policy should be a part of the agreement the employee signs while joining the organization, along with the attendance policy and other clauses. This binds them in an iron-clad contract and holds them accountable should they choose to exercise a no call no show during the employment tenure.

But do understand that most no call no shows are probably due to an emergency. You can keep in place a three strikes system before taking any serious action. 

Step 3: Communicate 

There are two pillars of effectively implementing any policy at work; creation and communication. Once you have created your attendance and no call no show policies, it’s time to make sure your employees understand it well. Otherwise, it would just be a waste. Ensure that you orient your new hires to understand the policy well, and reorient your current employees. 

Further, there should be a written seal of acknowledgment from the employees that they have understood the policies and clauses well. The reason this formal acknowledgment is required is so that the employees do not cry foul when an action is taken on their no call no show absence.

The best way to do this would be to provide each employee, new and existing, with a copy of the agreement (hard or soft), and get their acknowledgments in the form of an email or signature, as you deem fit. 

Step 4: Implement the Policy

Once the creation and communication is done, then comes the next hard part; implementation. But, if you have got the first two right, you will not face much difficulty with this one. It is important to implement the no call no show policy clearly and in a uniform manner, across the organization.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind while implementing the no call no show policy. First and most important, don’t let any bias come in between. And by bias, we don’t mean personal bias. What we mean here is that if the defaulter is an exceptionally talented employee, that should not affect the proceedings as per the policy. 

The second most important thing to consider is the number of chances an employee should get for a no call no show. Ideally, there should be at least 2 chances. That being said, one has to understand that there is no template when it comes to dealing with emergencies. An employee may get into urgent situations more than twice. So, the best way to deal with it would be to ask for proofs. This, of course, should be accompanied by a warning, the intensity of communication depending on the situation at hand.

Step 4: Create a Back-up Plan

It simply means that you should have a list of ready candidates to step into the shoes of each employee of yours, should this happen, i.e. if they abandon their jobs, leaving the team in a lurch. You can either have some options in mind from your previous interviews for the same job or have freelancers or Zero Contract employees in a stand-by position. 

The whole point of creating a backup list is to have ready substitutes in case the employee fails to show up. It is an on-call list of sorts.

Step 5: Communication with the Said Employee

What happens when the employee actually pulls a no call no show on you? That’s when you pull out your policy and take the necessary steps before it, starting from trying to communicate with the absent employee.

The reason being, they can be in an urgent situation that demands their undivided attention, even at the cost of work. God forbid, they may have met with an accident or helped a close one who may have gotten into one. The point is, it is important to communicate before jumping to conclusions, even as per the policy. The first intent should be to find out whether or not the said employee is fine. If they are, that’s when you decide the next course of action.

Step 6: Substantiate the Facts

Once you have figured out that the employee is fine and the reasons for the no call no show at work, you have to substantiate it with evidence. Yes, no matter how difficult, it is required, otherwise, anyone can take off without any accountability, making the organization suffer in the process. That’s why it is important to establish this clearly in the no call no show policy so that you do not come out as an insensitive person when you ask for it in the actual scenario.

This can be done in two ways; a one-on-one meeting with the employee and the evidence for reason of absence.

A one-on-one meeting is important because it helps you understand and gauge whether or not the employee is telling the truth. While this is not an intimidating interrogation, it is a simple process to understand the cause of absence.

The second step is to further substantiate the one-on-one meeting with documentation of the said event that led to the employee’s absence at work. Whether it is medical bills or any other form of documentation, the employee should produce it as a  record.

One thing that you have to keep in mind is keeping your own emotions in check. Even if you have a warm personal or cordial professional relationship with the said person, it should not affect this conversation, nor should it affect your decision.

Step 7: Make Sure the Employee is Fine

Not everyone is upto a conversation about the circumstances that may have led to a no call no show, especially if it was a traumatizing situation. In that case, it is your responsibility as an HR to be as compassionate as possible and make the employee feel comfortable during the meeting and even after it. Be sure to not ask any insensitive questions and keep your attitude as warm as possible, especially while dealing with sensitive issues.

Step 8: Collect the Documentation

The last step of your no call no show policy process is to collect the relevant documents from the employee and keep a record.

Another question that bothers HR is; how many no call no show situations to tolerate before termination? It is a valid and difficult question. As we mentioned earlier, there is no set template for what life may throw at you. There is no fixed number of emergency situations that may lead to such a situation. So, while you can put a number as per your sensibilities, you will have to apply your own skills in performing due diligence and figuring out whether or not the situation did call for a no call no show on the part of the employee. You will also have to be prepared for the scenarios where you may end up making the wrong call, owing to how subjective the matter at hand is. But, that is a human limitation. 

You have to apply your own skills to differentiate between no call no show excuses and genuine cases.

Do you Need a No Call No Show Policy at your Workplace?

Absolutely, yes. The world is changing at a breakneck speed and so is the professional scenario. We have already witnessed a massive overhaul in the form of remote working, in the past two years. Be sure and bind your employees in an iron-clad agreement. That does not let them take the organization for granted by pulling something like a no call no show without any reason. It will also reduce various employee malpractices such as employee theft, absenteeism, and so on.

Do you have a no call no show policy in place at your organization?