5 Ways to Handle Employee No-Call, No-Shows

In this article, you’ll learn how to effectively handle no-call, no-show scenarios in your workplace. With a focus on creating and implementing a clear policy, enhancing communication, and improving scheduling practices, you will be equipped to mitigate these frustrating instances and ensure your business runs smoothly.

Key takeaways:

  • Developing a comprehensive no-call, no-show policy and integrating it into the employee handbook helps in establishing clear guidelines and consequences for absenteeism.
  • Consistent enforcement of the established policy is crucial to maintaining fairness and deterring employees from taking advantage.
  • Improving scheduling practices and leveraging technology can simplify the process and offer flexibility to employees, reducing chances of no-call, no-shows.
  • Educating new hires about the policy and the importance of adherence promotes a culture of respect for workplace rules.
  • Open communication with employees can help in understanding and addressing the root causes of absenteeism, thereby preventing future occurrences.

A no-call, no-show is an instance when an employee doesn’t get prior approval for missing a day off and then simply doesn’t show up or call in. In some cases, there’s a good excuse, such as a car accident. However, in most cases, a no-show requires attention from leadership.

If you find yourself frequently dealing with this situation, use these steps to develop an effective no-call, no-show policy:

1. Get a no-call, no-show policy in place

Install a policy within your employee handbook that outlines the guidelines for missing work. It should address all absence-related questions like:

  • How to request time off
  • How to use personal days
  • How to handle last-minute sick days
  • If documentation (a signed note) is required
  • How to communicate with other team members to fill your shift
  • Consequences for no-call, no-shows

Once all employees know what the policy is and have signed a waiver to that effect, you can hold them accountable for no-shows. Be sure your policy outlines what a no-call, no-show is and the ramifications of missing work like this.

Tip: It may even be wise to have an employment attorney look over your policies to ensure they’re legally binding in your state.

2. Enforce the policy

Once you create your policy, you must enforce it consistently and treat all employees equally.

In some businesses, a zero tolerance policy is upheld, where one instance of not showing up for work can lead to termination immediately. Others may implement a “3-strike” process, where employees receive a written warning for not showing up to work at the first instance.

Consider these tips when enforcing policy rules:

  • Pull the individual aside for a one-on-one discussion. Talk about the problem. Discuss how being late or not showing up for work affects the other employees and production.
  • Discuss the importance of each employee, full-time or part-time, on meeting the needs of the customer.
  • Indicate that the employer has the right to terminate the employee, no matter how valuable he or she is, as a result of the missing time.
  • Ask the employee to explain the no-shows. It may be a time scheduling concern or it may be due to a lack of motivation. Ask the employee what his or her long-term goals within the company are. Then create an action plan for minimizing lost time at work.
  • Establish specific consequences tied to missing time. Document every instance of the problem. Follow through with the required action you’ve outlined with the employee.

Whatever your goals are, ensure you enforce them evenly over all employees and management. Doing so sends a message that you won’t tolerate employees not reporting to work and no-call absences.

3. Improve your scheduling practices

Many employee scheduling apps now offer an easy and clear way for people to request time off, and more importantly, give them the power to fill their own shifts.

Flexibility in the workplace is a huge bonus for employees, so make it as easy as possible for them to take ownership and find a replacement if need be.

You can also implement an on-call list, which includes a list of people who have opted in to pick up extra hours.

Note: Make sure to include stipulations in your no-call, no-show policy around your software. For instance, if employees seek their own replacements, you can ask that these requests be sent to managers for approval.

4. Teach new employees the rules

It’s important to ensure new employees are informed right away about your work attendance and absences policy.

As an employer, you may wish to host an orientation or initial meeting with each new hire. For example, newcomers may spend an hour or two with the hiring manager reviewing documentation and work-related policies—including no-shows.

During this initial session, you should:

  • Provide employees with information about their options for calling in sick or for days off.
  • Show them how important it is for each scheduled employee to be at work on time to serve customers or maintain productivity.
  • Discuss the steps for replacing an employee who may be ill.

By providing this information, not only will new employees know the rules, but they’ll understand your reasoning behind them. This may give them a greater respect for the policy.

5. Communicate with your employees

A final consideration for employers and business owners is to look at why this is happening.

Talking to your employees about the reasons behind these absences will help you prevent them in the future.

Some common reasons for no-shows could be:

  • Poor communication about availability
  • Lack of understanding of the rules
  • Inconsistent enforcement of the rules
  • Problems with scheduling
  • At-home concerns
  • Management and employee-relation concerns
  • Company not using scheduling software
  • An employee communication app has not been implemented

Benefits of implementing a no-call, no-show policy

Creating and implementing an effective strategy for employees not reporting to work will take time, but it will be worth it. Here are a few benefits you will likely see with less no-call, no-shows:

  • Increased productivity and morale for coworkers
  • Less wasted money on overtime and salaried workers who are getting paid for not being there
  • Improved communication between managers and team members

Of course, employees get sick, have emergencies, or need days off from time to time. That’s expected. What isn’t acceptable is an employee no-show. We hope these tips help you and your team deal with the situation effectively and prevent issues in the future.


Handling a no-call, no-show situation requires a careful blend of policy establishment, enforcement, improved scheduling practices, employee education, and effective communication. 

By adopting these strategies, not only can you mitigate the issue of unexplained absences, you can also create a work environment where policies are respected and understood. 

If you’re seeking assistance in improving your workforce management, consider trying When I Work, a powerful tool designed to simplify your scheduling practices, enhance communication, and ensure policy compliance in your organization.

Handling no-call, no-shows at work: FAQs

What is a no-call, no-show?

A no-call, no-show refers to a situation where an employee fails to get prior approval for missing a day off and then doesn’t show up or call in to explain their absence. It’s an occurrence that usually requires attention from leadership.

How can I handle no-call, no-show situations effectively at work?

There are several steps you can take to handle no-call, no-show situations effectively. 

You should focus on implementing a clear no-call, no-show policy, consistently enforcing this policy, improving scheduling practices, educating new employees about the rules, and maintaining effective communication with your employees.

Why is it important to have a no-call, no-show policy in place?

A no-call, no-show policy provides a clear framework for handling unexplained absences. It sets expectations for all employees regarding missing work and stipulates the consequences for violating these guidelines, thus encouraging accountability and minimizing the incidence of no-call, no-show situations.

What are the potential benefits of addressing no-call, no-show issues at work?

By effectively addressing no-call, no-show issues, you can expect benefits such as:

  • Increased productivity and morale among coworkers.
  • Less wasted money on overtime and absentee workers.
  • Improved communication between managers and team members.

How can I improve scheduling practices to handle no-call, no-show situations?

You can improve scheduling practices by adopting employee scheduling apps that provide a clear way for employees to request time off or even fill their own shifts. 

Additionally, implementing an on-call list can help cover shifts in case of a no-call, no-show situation.

Article Image
/Human Resources

Employee Burnout: Causes, Signs, And Strategies

Article Image
/Business Growth

9 Strategies For Decreasing Labor Costs

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

Rotating Shifts: A Manager’s Guide to Rotating Schedules

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

How to Save Time And Money With Automatic Scheduling For Employees

Article Image
/Small Business Blog

40 Employee Appreciation Ideas Your Staff Will Love

Article Image
/Human Resources

How to Write Up an Employee in 8 Easy Steps