What Is A “No Call No Show” & How To Deal With It

As a business owner, get a tailor-made no call, no show policy that encourages communication, fair treatment, and engagement with all your employees.

Businesses thrive when there is teamwork. It is close to impossible for a successful coffee shop to grow through the effort of a single person. When working with a team, people begin to depend on one another for the entire unit to do well. 

If one person does not show up, it can have a detrimental effect on the morale of the team. It can also affect the ability of the business to run smoothly and effectively during the team member’s absence. The result could be the lack of delivery to the customer, and bad customer experience could cost the coffee shop dearly.

No Call, No Show. 

This is a phrase that employers use to refer to employees who are absent from work. What distinguishes this type of absence from others is that typically, the employee does not notify the employer they will not be appearing. To handle these types of employees, companies, whether small or large, need to have a no call, no show policy. The policy needs to be based on disciplinary action to be effective.

No Call, No Show Policy

Having a policy in place spells out the consequences for workers who do not show up at work, without giving advance notice that they will be absent. Within the policy, clear guidelines explain how much notice needs to be given in the event someone cannot come to work. This covers a range of reasons for absences, including sick leave, compassionate leave, personal time, and vacation time.

As an employer or manager, it will be essential to have this policy in place so that employees can be held accountable, and employers can take action to enforce it. This allows for the consequences of work violations to be in place. New business owners may believe that punishing their employees is severe. There are different things that you can do to enforce a no call no show policy. These actions may be more solution-oriented than undesirable.

What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
business owner

Consider the Worst-Case Scenario For the No Call, No Show.

 An employee does not come to work for an entire week and does not communicate in any way with their employer. This means that they are absent for a full five days.

When they do return, they attempt to resume their duties as though nothing has happened. Since the employee did not report to work or communicate, they were technically not officially dismissed from work. The company may find it challenging to let the employee go immediately, having to follow other due processes such as issuing warning letters or suspending them.

There is another scenario worth considering. This is where the employee has not reported working for some time, and the employer chooses to terminate them. However, they show up later and claim that they have not been officially fired and that the law protects them. This may leave an employer paying someone who does not perform or even show up. These situations can be controlled, and here is how.

How to Deal With the No Call, No Show

When no call no show happens for the first time, employers can be understanding in figuring out what could have occurred with the employee and giving them a second chance. Some employers will even allow an employee three strikes before letting them go. However, some employees will take advantage of the understanding of an employer and be a no call no show over and over again.

 There are different ways to deal with this situation as follows: 

  • Have a no call, no show policy 
  • Termination
  • Explanations
  • Medical emergencies
  • Look into the deeper issue
  • Develop a plan to deal with the issue
  • Messaging systems
  • Human touch
  • Change their employment terms
  • Explore creative disciplinary action

Have a no call, no show policy 

Begin your enforcement by making sure that you have a policy in place to deal with no call no show situations. Should a no call no show arise, then you need to be consistent in enforcing this policy. Imposing penalties will show the staff that it is an issue that is taken seriously and will be dealt with for the benefit of the company.

When there is no policy in place, employees can avert disciplinary or even legal action by citing small technicalities. The policy should also ensure that all employees are treated equally to avoid protecting repeat offenders or even high performers.

Be sure to check out “8 Bad Habits of Hospitality Managers and How to Deal With Them” for more techniques on dealing with your staff to improve customer service.

What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
An employee with no call, no show attitude can bring down the morale of your team


This may be a severe, though necessary step when dealing with a no call no show employee. The policy in place should spell out the number of days one will be considered a no call, no show once they have not turned up. After this time, it will be concluded that they have chosen to abandon their job. If they return, it will be apparent that their employment has been terminated.

It is worth noting that termination should never be done in anger, as this could have negative long term repercussions. 

Instead, it should be based on clear facts and evidence. Termination is an option if there is no legitimate reason for someone to disappear from work and not communicate at all.


An employee may be missing in action for several days and then show up with an explanation as to where they were. 

Upon review, these explanations may turn out to be excused. The manager needs to listen to the explanation and determine whether or not it is viable. If it can be accepted, rather than termination, the employee may be given a written warning.

One may wonder how to determine whether an explanation is viable or not. Documentation makes a big difference. There should be something in writing where possible to show where the employee was when unable to attend work.

Medical emergencies

When an employee is absent without notification because they have a medical emergency. Such as being admitted in a hospital, an accident, or otherwise incapacitated. The no call no show policy may be exempted.

The medical emergency needs to be severe enough to warrant incapacitation and the ability to do work. This should be backed up with documentation from a doctor. An employee may believe having migraines warrants a medical emergency and claim to have been in pain; therefore, he did not come to work. 

Without any proof that this is the case, they may be viewed as being truant.

Look into the deeper issue.

There may be a deeper issue that is resulting in no call no show situations. The worst-case scenario could be the way the shop is being run. A company evaluation of the scheduling process would be a great place to start when exploring the challenge. This means there should be a system in place when an employee wants to request for some time off. Furthermore, they should be clear on the expectations, especially when it comes to working hours.

Consequences and how they are spelled out to employees may also require review. It needs to be simple for employees to request time off when they need to. Complex structures limit this, and some may believe that asking for forgiveness is better than asking for permission.

Develop a plan to deal with the issue

It is worth going into business expecting the inevitable, which is that your workers may, at some point, let you down. With this in mind, you will need to have a process in place on how to deal with a now call no show, especially if it calls for reaching out to other employees to fill the gap. 

With everyone in the know, discord at the workplace can be minimized if a member of the team does not show up. Also, employees will be aware that there may be a time they are called into work on short notice.

The plan will be much simpler than a fully detailed policy. Instead, it should have around five key points of what should happen when a member of the team is AWOL.

Check out our “Tools For Tracking Employee Performance at Your Cafe” for methods for keeping up with the activity inside your establishment.

What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
encourage communication

Messaging systems

Come up with a system where employees can share messages when they have emergencies that prevent them from coming to work. Social media platforms have made this more accessible than ever before. By belonging to groups, employees can let everyone conveniently know when something has come up, allowing for replacements in the short term.

To make this seamless, an employer may choose to make use of a platform that automates schedules and attendance. This way, everything can be seen at a glance. There are plenty of mobile applications that can be explored to offer this service to business owners, no matter what their budget may be.

Human touch

Human touch can go a long way in managing employees, especially no call no show situations. This means that you need to know your employees by finding out what you can about their lives. Having an idea of the challenges they may be facing at home, and even in the workplace can be instrumental to absence prevention. Solutions can be put in place, even before the potential problems arise.

This also strongly ties in with communication and ensuring that everyone has the freedom to communicate when they need to.

Change their employment terms.

A good worker may be letting you down for reasons that are totally beyond your control. Instead of just letting them go and incurring the cost of recruitment and training, you could explore changing their employment terms. This may require them to work part-time instead of full time. This gives the employee a chance to get their lives in order, as well as to work effectively.

Explore creative disciplinary action

Disciplinary action can be creative. An employer may choose to give the no call no show employee an undesirable shift when they return until they prove that they are willing to work within rules. 

One may also get demoted to a lower position and work their way back up. A temporary suspension may be in order, to give the employee a chance to think about their actions and the possible consequences. 

These steps can lead to positive results, without a tremendous human resource or financial cost to the company.

As an employer, you may realize that not everything is set in stone. You may need to review the circumstances around the no call no show of your employee. 

If the employee has a flawless track record and has not broken the rules in the past, a review will be necessary. Instead of dismissal, it may be better to determine the reason for the no call no show, investigate it, and then take action.

It is worth noting, being a stellar employee does not mean that one should be exempt from the consequences of their actions. If they are, other employees may feel disgruntled and unfairly treated within the organization.

What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
Consider the human touch when dealing with disgruntled employees

Creating a no call no show policy

No call no show policies have some core rules that can apply to a range of businesses. It is advised that a company should custom create their policy that specifically addresses their nature of work. This way, the solutions from the policy are viable and in the interests of the company.

Companies should all have a policy that explains the requirements for requesting leave. These include the customary notice and the usual procedures that are to be followed. This means that employees have standards to comply with even when the leave is not foreseeable.

To ensure that staff is clear about the consequences of no call no show situations, a clear policy should include the following: 

  • No call no show definition
  • Rules for attendance
  • Clear definitions
  • Procedure for the employee asking to be absent
  • Consider mental health challenges
  • Contact and communications
  • Incarceration 
  • Next of kin information
  • Legal bases

No call no show definition

A clear and concise definition of what a no call no show is. Within this definition, there should also be an idea of what constitutes no show. This ensures that employees do not take advantage of any grey areas.

Rules for attendance

Have rules in place for attendance, no matter what size your business is. Sometimes, small businesses underestimate the importance of these rules, and they are the ones that face the most challenges in this area. This is typically due to familiarity with employees.

Small businesses focus on trust with employee relationships, treating employees like family more than like people being paid to carry out a specific function. 

Having a policy in place will make sure that any new employees who join the team can fit in well, and business can run smoothly. So, basic rules will form the core of the policy.

Clear definitions

Ensure that there are clear definitions in your policy, especially when it comes to being absent as well as being late. This policy should also encompass how attendance will be tracked. This way, one cannot claim that they did attend because they logged on to a system, for example, and did not physically show up at work.

Procedure for the employee asking to be absent

Have a clear distinction between excused and unexcused absences, as well as the procedure for the employee asking to be absent. This will ensure that there is always a paperwork trail that can be followed to prevent no call no show situations. In line with this, there should be disciplinary actions that are put in place.

Automatically discharge

After three days of absence without any communication or calling in, employees should automatically be discharged. This rule may be amended in the event of an emergency that results in unplanned time off. Contingencies may include the death of a spouse or child, medical emergencies, and being in a coma.

Be sure to check out “Definitive Guide To Successful Restaurant Management” for techniques to managing your establishment with a successful program.

What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
A no call, no show employee can cause problems for your business

Consider mental health challenges. 

Employees may be going through debilitating mental health illnesses, which makes it hard for them to communicate. These could include depressive or bipolar episodes. If it is an issue to do with medication, whereby if they do not get help, they are unable to function. This could be an exception. In the no call no show policy, proof of a mental health condition should allow for some flexibility.

Contact and communications. 

These could state that employers get supervisors to attempt contacting the employee should they be a no call no show. The supervisor should then alert the HR that the employee has not reported working. The HR needs to have a detailed file in a place that has medical information related to the employee and should also try to establish contact. 

If there is no reason on record, and no response from the employee, action can then be taken. By making attempts to make contact with the employee, the employer protects himself, especially from a legal standpoint.


Incarceration or jail following an arrest could be a reason that an employee is a no call no show. Usually, if a person is accused of a crime, the employer is well within their rights to dismiss them. There are times that all charges are dropped, and the employee is given a full release. The circumstances around the arrest are to be taken into consideration when the decision to rehire the staff is put into place.

Next of kin information

Next of kin information should be available for all employees. If a person does not appear for work, then this is the person that should be contacted to determine the whereabouts of the employee or to try and reach out to them. 

The next of kin should always be a responsible adult, preferably a relative in some capacity. Providing the information of minors for next of kin should be discouraged.

Legal bases

Ensure that a lawyer looks through your entire policy so that it is aligned with the employment laws in your state. Having all your legal bases covered will protect you from any issues than an employer may face in the future.

Once you have created this policy, it is important that all employees are fully aware of it, whether existing or as new hires. They should be taken through it, and they should also sign that they have confirmed and agreed with the terms that are laid out. 

In the event of any no call no show problems, they will not be able to claim ignorance or lack of information. By doing this, it becomes possible to ask employees whether they have any questions before they sign the policy. Objections can be dealt with at this stage, and all clarifications made.

Identifying a no call, no show

So far, you can define what a no call no show situation, how to deal with it, and the best way to create your policy is. Though, until you go through it first hand, identifying it may still seem elusive.

To combat any challenges, here are some of the excuses that an employee may give when they fail to show up for work.

  • I was not feeling well.
  • I was recovering from a bad hangover.
  • I woke up late.
  • I lost my phone and didn’t know my schedule
  • I couldn’t get any transport.

These are five of the excuses that are most commonly given when a person misses a day or two of work. They are not communicated. Instead, the employee shows up and expects the employer to sympathize with their situation.

Some excuses that qualify as being valid include: 

  • Serious family emergency, including fire, medical, or accident.
  • Appointments that cannot be rescheduled, such as court appearances.
  • Chronic illnesses, including cancer, especially during treatment.
What Is A No Call No Show & How To Deal With It
As a business owner, get a tailor-made no call, no show policy

An employer can consider a job as being abandoned if the employee does not show up to work for three or more consecutive days. It is at this time that they will be able to take action and officially terminate the employee.

The reason this can be effected is that it is assumed the employee has no intention of returning to the workplace. Only a valid emergency could reverse this assumption.

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