What to Do About 'No-Calls' and 'No-Shows'
When an employee is scheduled for work but doesn't come in or contact you to explain their absence, you're dealing with a no-call/no-show. Your first instinct may be to immediately fire the employee and seek a replacement. But not so fast. Stop, take a breather and look at the big picture.
Do you know the meaning of job abandonment?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, "Job abandonment occurs when an employee does not report to work as scheduled and has no intention of returning to the job but does not notify the employer of his or her intention to quit."
Just because employees fail to show up as scheduled without calling doesn't automatically mean they have abandoned their jobs. There could be a legitimate reason.
For example, maybe the employee is seriously injured, had a death in the family, is in jail, or is undergoing some other crisis where an immediate phone call is not possible. Or maybe there was a scheduling misunderstanding, with the employer thinking the worker was expected and the worker believing he or she had the day off.
Does the situation constitute job abandonment?
Employers should develop a written policy that expressly states the number of no-calls/no-shows that constitutes job abandonment. Typically, that number is three full business days. This doesn't mean you should wait until after the third day to act, however.
Have you tried to contact the employee?
Since there may be a valid reason for the no-call/no-show, you should try to contact the employee on the first day of the infraction. If you manage to reach the employee, try to get as much information as possible, as this will allow you to make an informed decision. For example, if the employee or a family member is seriously ill, 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act may come into play.
Should you terminate the employee?
If the employer has not heard from the employee after three business days, termination is usually the next step.
Best practices include sending the employee a termination letter that explains your no-call/no-show policy, how the policy was violated, and the steps you took to get in touch. The termination should be legally executed, including ensuring timely payment of final wages and proper notification of applicable benefits.
In summary, to effectively deal with no-calls/no-shows you need a written policy that spells out what happens in these situations plus consistent investigative procedures for HR and management to follow. Ideally, the written policy should be incorporated into the attendance section of your employee handbook.
Have employees sign a statement acknowledging receipt of the handbook. You don't want them saying that they didn't show up for work without calling because they weren't aware of the policy — or worse, because you have no policy on the matter.