Can you fire the employee who didn’t show up for work today?

An employee is scheduled for work and they don’t come in or
call to say they’ll be absent; it’s a no call/no show.  As an employer you’re left scrambling to
cover the work and wondering when the employee might show up again.  It’s tempting to just announce they’re fired
and look for a replacement.

The most common company policy and practice regarding no
call/no shows considers an employee to have voluntarily quit after three
consecutive days. I can picture the manager who pops into my office and
announces, “This is the third day Sue is a no call/no show, can I fire
her?”  My first response is always, “Did
you or anyone on your staff call her?” 
Too often the reply from the manager is, “No why should we call her?”

When an employee is a no call/no show calling them should be
the first company response, on the first day of the infraction. The employee
may have been seriously injured, had a death in the family or be in jail. They
may think a vacation was approved or they were not scheduled to work. After the
phone call, or the second or third call, I have found out all of these reasons
for the absence.  An illness could result
in employee eligibility for time off under FMLA which does not require advance
notice if an employee is hit by a car. 

When 3 days have passed, calls have been made and there is
still no word from the employee it’s time to send them a letter.  The letter explains that since you have not
heard from them you consider them to have quit, abandoned their job.  Include information requiring them to contact
you if something has happened that you don’t know about, like emergency surgery
that would allow them to return to work. Send the letter registered mail,
requesting a return receipt. You should also send any final check COBRA or
other information given to terminating employees that your state requires. 

Sometimes employees do just seem to disappear.  Other times you meet them working for a
competitor a few weeks later.  Once in a
while you receive a post card from a far off location.  Employees leave jobs for lots of reasons,
some better than others.  Tell employees
up front in a written policy that you expect 2 weeks notice if they plan on
resigning.  A separate written policy
that describes requirements for calling in sick and the consequences of a no
call/no show should also be handed out. 
Don’t wait until the third day of a no call/no show when you finally
reach the employee on the phone to tell them that they have voluntarily quit,
its company policy.