A no-call/no-show is an employee who failed to show up for work as scheduled without notifying his or her employer. The consequences of the violation depend on the employer’s policy. Many employers terminate no-call/no-show employees if they haven’t heard from them in three business days.

When a fired no-call/no-show suddenly reappears, the issue should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Below are some considerations.

Employee Explanation

In this day and age, when cellphones are commonplace, what plausible reason could anyone have for disappearing from work without calling to say why? Even if there’s a medical emergency involving the employee or a family member, there’s typically someone who can call the employer. Same goes if the employee was in jail.

But unusual circumstances do exist — such as the employee being in a coma or not conscious enough to ask someone to call. For this reason, you should hear the employee out. If he or she is a good performer, has never violated your company policies, and presents a convincing argument for why he or she couldn’t contact you, reinstatement may be warranted.

The decision to reinstate a no-call/no-show employee should align with your company policy. Per SHRM, the policy should be enforced in a nondiscriminatory way, meaning you should treat employees in similar situations equally.

Paid Sick Leave Laws

In states or localities that mandate paid sick leave, the requirements may affect an employer’s no-call/no-show policy.

For example, in Washington state, employers must provide paid sick leave for certain health-related reasons. Per the law firm Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward (JDSA), employers in Washington must ensure their “attendance policies do not subject employees to any adverse employment actions as a result of taking their accrued paid sick leave.” Further, employers should “revise any no-call no-show policy to reflect the requirements of the new law.”

Some employers in Washington worry that the state’s paid sick leave laws make it impossible for them to discipline no-call/no-show employees. But as stated by JDSA, employers can require that employees give advance notice of their need to take paid sick leave unless a rare circumstance prevents them from calling, texting or having someone else contact the employer before they start their shift.

Paid sick leave laws vary by state and locality. Therefore, employers should examine the rules of their specific jurisdiction to identify any impact on their no-call/no-show policy.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA allows employers to develop call-in procedures, which employees must generally comply with even if their absence is covered by the FMLA. However, the FMLA permits an exception for employees who could not contact their employer due to “unusual circumstances.”

According to an article published by FMLA Insights, if an employee fails to follow the employer’s FMLA call-in policy, the employer should try to find out from the employee why he or she did not obey the procedures. The employer may want to partner with a legal expert during this process to ensure the investigation comes to an appropriate conclusio