Employee no show and how to deal with it

The phrase “no show” or “no call” refers to the situation when an employee is absent from work without previously notifying the employer. A no show is widely seen as a serious offense. When an employee misses a day of work and doesn’t bother to inform anyone, it can really affect the other employees and the organization as a whole. There are, of course, some instances when the employee is unable to call the employer and inform about the reason for his absence, such as medical emergencies. There are not considered no-show cases.

So the question is how do you deal with a no show, no call employee, particularly one that keeps on doing it? Here are some key steps you need to take in this matter:

Design a no show, no call policy

Your employee handbook should contain a no show policy that describes thoroughly the guidelines for missing work. This policy should focus on every issue related to absences, such as:

  • Define what does it mean to be absent and tardy
  • Define no show, no call
  • Explain how to request time-off
  • Explain how to use personal days
  • Describe how to manage last-minute sick days
  • Explain how to communicate with team members in order to cover shifts
  • Determine realistic disciplinary actions for no call, no show absences.

Once all the employees know what the policy includes and have signed an acknowledgment document to this effect, you can hold them accountable in case of a no show. If you want to go the extra mile, have an attorney check the policy.

In case you are dealing with employee absenteeism, check our guide on the topic to make sure you take the best decisions.

Implement the policy consistently

Consistency is key when enforcing your no call, no show policy. You can choose to have a zero-tolerance policy for these situations. The other way to go is to create a set of discipline measures that ends up with termination. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you apply the same rules to everyone, even if the employee who missed work is an outstanding employee.

Our recommendation is to give employees at least 2 chances. Accidents can happen and emergencies are very different. After the first offense, sit down with the employee, discuss the consequences his actions have on the whole team. You can apply a financial penalty, such as reducing the employee’s pay for the next shift worked.

Don’t forget to remind him that the next offense will lead to termination, if that is your policy.

A professional practice is to send the employee a warning letter after the first offense. Here is a template you can use for free.

Improve your scheduling process

An employee scheduling app is the best solution for improving your scheduling process. By using it, your employees will be able to request their time-off easily and maybe you can even allow them to fill their shifts (when missing work).

Design an on-call list, so that everyone has an overview of the people who have chosen to put in extra hours, on short notice.

Make sure the new employees learn the rules

Newcomers should be informed right away about your attendance and absence policy. The onboarding process should include a presentation of this.

The shared information material should include:

  • Information about their options for sick days and all other days off
  • Reinforcement on how crucial it is that they come at work on time
  • Steps for replacing employees who may be sick

After this, new employees will not only know the rules, but they will grasp the logic behind them, and this will make them feel involved and more engaged.

Communicate with your team

As a final tip, we encourage managers and business owners to find the root cause of the no show process. Talk to your employees about the reasons conducting to these absences. This way, you may be able to prevent them on the long run.

Some typical reasons for no-shows are:

  • deficient communication about availability
  • poor understanding of the rules
  • lack of consistency when enforcing the rules
  • Scheduling problems
  • personal/family issues and concerns
  • lack of scheduling software.

Always stay positive

After following all our advice, you still may find yourself in the position of experiencing no show, no call situations. That’s natural.

Don’t get angry or defensive. Don’t assume the absent employee is skipping work out of spite or to prove a point. Stay calm, be positive and focus on covering the shift. After that, you can go ahead and find out why the employee didn’t come to work and didn’t call.

What benefits will you experience after putting into action all these 6 steps?

  • A concrete increased productivity and better morale for the co-workers
  • Decreased amount of money spent on overtime and the salaries for the absent workers
  • Enhanced communication between management and employees

Download the no call no show warning letter

No Call No Show Warning Letter


Even if you won’t manage to fully eliminate the cases of employee no show, by following our tips you will be closer to perfection. Make sure one bad, disengaged employee does not ruin the whole team. Set up an attendance and absence policy and stick to it. Don’t forget about the software solutions that may be of great help, such as LeaveBoard!