How common is it for people to just not turn up for work without calling in sick?
September 30, 2008 3:02 PM   Subscribe

How common is it for people to just not turn up for work without calling in sick?

We seem to have this quite a lot at my current workplace. I've never really had this at previous jobs so it shocked me at first. But just now I came across another example of this while watching CSI:NY (not the greatest reference I admit).

Also, if you have experience as a manager or in HR, how seriously do you take this when it occurs? Disciplinary action? Blind eye unless it becomes a regular occurrence?

To expand, the examples at my workplace would usually be tracked down during the day through us trying their various phone numbers. We've had a few examples where we had no news for over a day. Also, these were all fairly new starters and often temps - we have a pretty high turnover. Repercussions never go further than "you know you have to call if you can't come in" tho our manager is notoriously lenient - but new starters wouldn't know this!
Oh and I'm in the UK.
posted by ClarissaWAM to Work & Money (21 answers total)
Common enough that 'no-call, no-show' seems to be the near-universal term for it.
posted by box at 3:08 PM on September 30, 2008

... but, that "no-call, no-show" terminology usually refers to cause of termination, in my experience. It doesn't happen here in the US, at any company I've been with, without someone being let go.
posted by booknerd at 3:10 PM on September 30, 2008

At a lot of the crappy jobs (or, uh, jobs with a high turnover) I've had, it was the second no-call, no-show that got you fired.
posted by box at 3:14 PM on September 30, 2008

I don't know what it's like in corporate jobs or salaried ones, but this happens all the time in the restaurant industry. Whether you get canned on the first or second no-call, no-show seems to depend on a number of things: the amount of time you've been working there, how good you are at your job, and how easily you can be replaced. At the places I've worked, a seasoned cook gets a lot more leeway than a new busperson/dishwasher. For the wait staff, it usually comes down to how good your excuse was and how much the management likes you.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 3:24 PM on September 30, 2008

I agree, this is a "no call, no show" which always results in some disciplinary action, ranging from "write-up" to termination, barring some sort of significant problem. (If the employee is hospitalized with severe illness/injury, not if a series of silly misadventures caused the absence.)
posted by Dreama at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2008

There's the short-term version of this, i.e. no-call, no-show. I've also done back office HR work, and the legal term for just disappearing from your job is called 'Abandonment of Post' in the UK. It's common enough that there's HR procedures for it. Happens a lot in low-wage salaried roles in the UK, like banks and big utilities. The common factor is employees not really caring about their jobs because the companies don't really care about their people, except as a certain unit of productivity per day.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:40 PM on September 30, 2008

In the higher-turnover workplaces with a lot of inexperienced, young staff I've worked in, this is endemic. It was really pretty stunning to me, when I first started working, to see how common this was. In the more stable, low-turnover, more "adult" workplaces it almost never happens, and when it does, there is usually some sort of good explanation (like the person was seriously ill or had a grave personal issue) or else the person didn't last very long.

If this is happening a lot in either kind of workplace, and people aren't getting fired, it's a serious problem.
posted by lunasol at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2008

In the office I work in we had a new employee declare on a friday afternoon that if his soccer team won the grand final on sunday he'd probably be too hungover to come in on monday. Sure enough Monday came round, and he didn't turn up or call or anything, despite the manager calling his cell phone constantly.

On Tuesday when he arrived we all sat around dumbfounded as he did not even get a warning. This caused a mild mutiny in the ranks and the no-shower was eventually fired a few weeks later, but more for his general attitude and lack of respect than anything else.

If I'd been the manager I would've called him monday evening and told him not to bother coming back in ever again.

- Also his soccer team lost the grand final.
posted by robotot at 3:51 PM on September 30, 2008

This would be grounds for being Seriously In Trouble in my workplace (non-profit admin.) First of all, I'd be worried and start calling. As a supervisor, if there wasn't a damn good reason for the lack of call (such as an unexpected ambulance to ER), I'd be furious. If it ever happened again, it would affect the employee's next review. Seriously.
posted by desuetude at 3:54 PM on September 30, 2008

I am an engineer at a large company in the US, and in my department, this is very common. I pretty much never call in for a single sick day unless I have a meeting I'm integral to and need to have rescheduled. I imagine it depends on the individual manager, other areas may not be as relaxed. Generally after a day or two, people do call in, although one guy did not call in for a week and eventually people got worried and started calling him to find out what was going on.

I have never heard of an engineer being fired for this at my company, or even reprimanded. I imagine even the most uptight managers would just request that they call next time.
posted by lemonade at 4:17 PM on September 30, 2008

At my current employer, the handbook lists "no-show/no-call" as one of the reasons for immediate termination, right alongside getting caught drunk at work.
posted by nomisxid at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2008

Wow. Quite a range of answers here. Tho generally it seems to lead to termination. Now if I could convince management of this...

Thanks everyone for your input!

(I'm off to bed now - work tomorrow. heh)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 4:32 PM on September 30, 2008

From what I've heard, this tends to happen more in service/retail/restaurant-type industries more often than white collar. That said, I have heard of the occasional white collar walkout, usually with someone very new.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:33 PM on September 30, 2008

Agree with jenfullmoon. My understanding is that it is very common among, say, short-order chefs. Not so much for middle managers.
posted by meta_eli at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2008

I'm a software engineer and in my workplace it seems like usually people just send an email around to everyone, rather than calling a manager or something. We have a few people who have ailing health (one from a recent injury and one for an infection that's lingered) and they both have a sort of understanding that they may or may not work from home and they should call into meetings if they feel up to it. For them, they don't send an email around, we just see an empty cube and think, "Oh, so-and-so must be working from home today."
posted by crinklebat at 7:20 PM on September 30, 2008

*excited* Hey, I do that!

Specifically: Recruited right out of Uni, first 'real-person' job, worked in a startup, about 6 people, really good manager, I personally worked as a mathematician/programmer, doing a longer-term project. Every so often would get bouts of crippling anxiety & fear, to the point of being suicidal. No show no-call that day.

After the first time or two, manager asked me about it, I couldn't really admit to being suicidal [that is, I could, but I couldn't], so I just apologized, said I forgot to call. Promised to next time.

Unfortunately, the degree of my anxiety meant that I just couldn't call. Or even email. Or, y'know, be coherent enough to, say, read MeFi.

Got called in again and asked, managed to explain. Boss was great about it, said he understood and had been down similar roads in the past, and we agreed that I'd call if I was sick, and if not he should assume I was freaking the hell out. In my case it'd generally be for a day, no longer, and my goals were still being met. Benefit of being a programmer?

Happy to say that I'm at the point where I can force myself to make it in to work, and once I'm at work I'm usually fine anyways. Still go anxious/neurotic occasionally, but not enough to take over my day.

[I understand that my situation is probably different than for temps, but it's something to keep in mind at least]
(There are times when answering anonymously would be super-hella-cool)

posted by Lemurrhea at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2008

My office (I work in visual effects) has an email list for each production we're working on expressly for attendance matters ("I'm stuck on the 405 and will be in at 10," "I'm going home early, my kid's sick," "I'm not here today, call so-and-so if you need something"). We also have a sick line; you can either email your productions and let them know what's up, or call the sick line and have the scheduling coordinators email your shows for you.

No-call no-show types do not last long in my industry. On the other hand, when I was a sysadmin, we had a guy vanish without any sort of indication of what happened for nearly three months. Everyone was worried, but he apparently just called in "not coming in until I resolve my issue" one day and did just that.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:13 PM on September 30, 2008

I work in a professional finance consulting related field and it is not common. But occasionally does happen. No-one has ever been fired over it as its usually under exceptional circumstances.

I rememeber one of my "no show/ no calls" was due to a total bender the night before, when I just wasn't awake till about 2-3pm at which time i thought "its a bit late to call".

I sheepishly went in the next day, to everyone hassling me "what happened to you yesterday". argh... severe hangover?
posted by mary8nne at 3:17 AM on October 1, 2008

It's not common in the better-paid professions. Usually, if it does happen, it's due to some sort of unforeseen emergency as opposed to a "fuck this job" moment.
However, as the pay scale goes lower, you do start to encounter this sort of purposeful behavior. Doubly-so in service-industry jobs where the grief factor overwhelms the financial benefit.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:34 AM on October 1, 2008

I work in academia - no show, no call = no job.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:36 AM on October 1, 2008

When I took my current position two years ago, this was a problem. It took a year to convince our employees of the seriousness of this issue, and to change their bad habit of not notifying us. Our rule is termination after second occurrence. The argument that finally convinced them is that we are so concerned about their own safety that we'll start calling emergency contacts if they don't let us know, working on the assumption that something tragic has happened to them as the only reason they would not take two minutes to call us. Car wreck on the way to work? Home invasion during the night? Heart attack? We.are.worried. n implementing this policy, they need to be constantly reminded that if they were involved in a tragic situation, they would want someone to be concerned, and also, do they want their elderly parent or other emergency contact to be notified if they're just hung over?
posted by raisingsand at 8:00 AM on October 1, 2008

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