“No Call, No Show” Policy: The Definition and Why You Need One (Template Included)

By Julija A.

June 19, 2023

If you’re a company manager, you know it can be extremely disruptive when employees don’t turn up for their shifts. Work doesn’t get done, deadlines are delayed, and clients get angry.

Inevitably, people will call in sick from time to time, but what to do when workers don’t contact you about an unscheduled absence?

Here’s where a “no call, no show” policy can help. These documents spell out the repercussions for employees if they fail to show up at work with no notice, and serve to protect you.

What Is a “No Call, No Show” Policy?

No employee can turn up to work every single day of their career. Something will inevitably go wrong. Emergencies that prevent them from carrying out their duties include:

  • Being involved in an accident
  • Contracting an illness
  • Bereavement
  • Transport cancellations

No sane employer disciplines employees for missing work for these reasons. However, even in these unexpected and unavoidable situations, most workers will still call the office to tell them they won’t be able to make it.

By contrast, when a worker does not show up to work or call to give a reason why, it is called a “no call, no show.” This is something most companies treat extremely seriously, due to the potential cost it can cause.

As the name suggests, a “no call, no show” policy is a document that sets out what you will do in the event that an employee fails to show up to work and doesn’t call to explain why. As an employer, it is up to you how severely you treat not showing up to work. Under the law, you are technically allowed to fire an employee for failing to show up for work after a single day, so long as you don’t base your decision on their immigration status, any form of discrimination, retaliation, or breaching contracts. However, both you and your employees are only human, so it’s advisable to be more lenient than that. Having an overly strict “no call, no show” policy may also encourage employee theft, as a form of retaliation for firing someone unfairly.

How To Create A “No call, No Show” Policy

When creating a “no call, no show” policy, be reasonable: In certain situations, such as car accidents or the death of a family member, most employees’ first thought won’t be, “I must call my boss and tell them that I won’t be coming to work today,” so make allowances for such events. Don’t punish employees who have legitimate excuses to call off work. This way, you can improve brand image and employee loyalty.

Step 1: Create The Rules

The first step is to think through the rules you want to set (while ensuring that you abide by current employment law). For instance, you might specify that employees need to inform their manager at least 30 minutes before their shift starts if they cannot attend. You may also state in your policy that if an employee fails to show up to work and does not call, you will get in touch with their emergency contacts to establish their wellbeing.

Step 2: Define The Consequences

The next step is to define the policy-violation consequences. Generally, companies don’t severely punish one-off “no call, no shows,” but they do if it becomes a pattern. For instance, if an employee goes three days off work with no contact, you may decide that this is sufficient grounds for a “no call, no show” termination.

Step 3: Communicate The Policy To Your Team

Once you’ve decided on the rules and consequences for violations, you’ll need to communicate your new policy to your team. Most firms subsume it into their regular attendance policy or employee handbook.

Make sure everyone in your organization reads and agrees with the new policy. Then leave the policy in an easily-accessible location, along with all other company documents.

“No Call, No Show” Policy Template

Here’s a “no call, no show” policy sample you can use to create a tailored document for your organization: 

If you do not show up to work and fail to call your manager 30 minutes before the start of your shift with an excuse for your absence, we will define it as a “no call, no show” incident. As stated in the Company Attendance Policy, we will then enter this into your personal record. This policy does not apply to the accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

To comply with this policy, employees must contact their manager not less than 30 minutes before the start of their shift. If employees do not follow this procedure, they may be subject to disciplinary action or dismissal. Employees absent for three or more days must provide the Company with proof of their illness with a doctor’s note. They must also supply a fitness for duty release before resuming work. 

Further Reading

Wrapping Up

Firing someone for a “no call, no show” situation isn’t something any manager wants to do. Therefore, the manager should outline a clear “no call, no show” policy in a document read and agreed to by all employees. This protects employers by spelling out company legal consequences if a worker fails to show up to their post and doesn’t notify the employer beforehand.


What is a “no call, no show” policy?

A “no call, no show” policy is a document that specifies what an employer will do in the event that an employee is absent from work and does not call to provide an excuse. Consequences can range from disciplinary action to dismissal.

Can you get fired for a “no call, no show?”

You can get fired for a “no call, no show” – even if it is your first time. However, most employers are more reasonable than this, meaning that you may only face disciplinary action and a strike on your record. Employers cannot fire you if you are protected by ADA or FMLA legislation, either.

Is “no call, no show” legal?

As an employee, you are not breaking the law if you do not call your boss and tell them you won’t be showing up to work. Likewise, company bosses are perfectly within their rights to implement “no call, no show” policies, as long as they remain within current employment law boundaries

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