Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance

Unemployment Benefits Denied for ‘No-Call/No-Show’ Employee

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently upheld an Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) decision categorically disqualifying employees who are “no call, no shows” for three consecutive days from receiving jobless benefits under the Michigan Employment Security Act’s (MESA) voluntary-leaving provision.

An employee was arrested and held in jail on a narcotics charge. The employer had a clear policy requiring employees to call in absences at least one hour before the start of a scheduled shift.

On his second day in jail, the employee called the employer to report he would be absent because of “unusual circumstances.” For the next three consecutive days, however, he was unable to call in. Therefore, he was terminated under the employer’s no-call/no-show policy.

Subsequently, the UIA denied the former employee’s jobless benefits claim under MESA Section 29(1)(a): “An individual who is absent from work for a period of three 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 is considered to have voluntarily left work without good cause attributable to the employer.” The court of appeals agreed to review the case.

Appellate Court’s Decision

The appeals court upheld the UIA’s decision stating that, regardless of whether it’s a good policy, the statutory language must be strictly applied to disqualify a three-day, no-call/no-show employee.

In reaching the holding, the court rejected the employee’s argument that the UIA must consider the underlying facts behind absences before denying unemployment benefits. Wilson v. Meijer Great Lakes LP and UIA.

Bottom Line

If an individual is a no-call/no-show employee for three consecutive days, your clear absence-reporting policy will help establish he is disqualified from UIA benefits under MESA Section 29(1)(a).

Alexander J. Burridge is an attorney with Bodman PLC’s workplace law practice group in Detroit, Michigan. You can reach him at aburridge@bodmanlaw.com.