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The Importance of Having a “No Show, No Call” Policy in Place

July 23, 2021

By Michael Burns, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

A “No Show, No Call” policy states simply if an employee is absent from work and does not call within a certain period of time the company will consider this abandonment of a job and a voluntary quit. In Michigan, our unemployment compensation law considers not calling and not showing up for work for three days a disqualification for unemployment benefits when a “No Show, No Call” policy is in place.

A Michigan case handed down July 1, 2021 by the Michigan Court of Appeals reaffirmed this short but important employment policy. In the case of Leonard Wilson v. Meijer Great Lakes Limited Partnership and Unemployment Insurance Agency (No.349078), Mr. Wilson failed to show up for work the first day, on the second day he called in but only after his shift had started, and he did not call on the third day he was absent. It was later discovered that his absence, though reported in his call on the second day that it was for “unusual circumstances”, was in fact because he was arrested for narcotics and was in jail. Somewhat beside the point of this case but relevant to his inability to call or show up.

The company had a policy of termination stating that if an employee did not show up or call for three days they would be terminated. This is a common policy in Michigan. The company’s policy also stated that if you are going to call in, it must be no less than “60 minutes prior to the shift starting time.” Further, the policy also provided for certain notification specifications.

Mr. Wilson was terminated and in turn filed an unemployment compensation claim. Starting with the Administrative Law Judge and going through the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) and then to the Michigan District Court, they all held that by Mr. Wilson not showing up for three days, he had disqualified himself from unemployment benefits. Mr. Wilson persisting, appealed to the Appeals Court arguing that the applicable section of the law (MCL 421.29 (1) (a) was ambiguous. This part of the law states:

  1. Except as provided in subsection (5), an individual is disqualified from receiving benefits if he or she:
    1. (a) Left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer or employing unit. An individual who left work is presumed to have left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer or employing unit. An individual who is absent from work for a period of 3 consecutive work days or more without contacting the employer in a manner acceptable to the employer and of which the individual was informed at the time of hire shall be considered to have voluntarily left work without good cause attributable to the employer.

The Appeals Court analyzed that section of the law from several directions. Mr. Wilson argued back looking for an exception to this the company’s policy and specifically the three-day “No Show, No Call” disqualification term in the law. This was to no avail.

The Michigan Appeals Court affirmed the decision of the lower court and the lower administrative bodies rulings that despite the late courtesy call on the second day, Mr. Wilson did not show up for three days and did not follow the employer’s notification policies and therefore was disqualified under Michigan’s unemployment law. Though not groundbreaking, this Court ruling affirms that a simple rule in place can protect an employer from two contrary outcomes. One may be an unjust discharge and the other will avoid the now ex-employee from receiving unemployment compensation benefits and the employer’s account being charged for it.

Employers are advised to check their own absence and notification rules to ensure that they have a three-day no call, no show policy in place. Many employers will have a two-day “No Show, No Call” policy in place. This is okay from the standpoint of terminating an employee’s job for policy non-compliance but would arguably not meet Michigan’s unemployment law three-day “No Show, No Call” disqualification requirement. An employer following the Michigan three-day “No Show, No Call” law would have a just cause termination and also an unemployment benefit disqualification saving the unemployment claim charge against the employer for UIA benefits – two for one.

The three-day “No Show, No Call” policy statement can be placed in the Attendance section of the handbook, the Termination/Resignation statement, or in a Standards of Conduct section of the handbook. Be sure to state what the employee must do in addition to calling in. State who the employee must reach and by when. This fortifies the “No Show, No Call” rule and the employer’s valid position when disputing an unemployment compensation benefit claim under these circumstances.

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