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 three 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 and 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, per your company policy.