What To Do When an Employee Always Shows Up Late

What To Do When an Employee Always Shows Up Late

Kelly Spors

One day, it’s 10 minutes. The next, it’s 30 or 50.

Whether it’s bad traffic, oversleeping or caring for a sick pet, employees offer up lots of different excuses when they show up late for work. As the manager, you may overlook it the first time. But what if it becomes a pattern?

Employee lateness is a widespread problem. A survey by CareerBuilder found that one in four employees admits to showing up late for work once a month, whereas 13% of employees say it’s a weekly occurrence. Managers say they hear all sorts of excuses: “A black bear entered my carport and decided to take a nap on the hood of my car.” “I was detained by Homeland Security.” “My hair caught on fire from my blow dryer.”

Employees who rarely arrive late to work should probably be given the benefit of the doubt—as there are valid reasons for being late. (Tires really do go flat!) But it’s generally in a manager’s best interest to confront employees who frequently—or always—show up late.

Late employees can reduce business productivity, especially if they aren’t making up for lost work time at the end of their shifts. Moreover, it hurts the morale and work ethic of other employees who might resent that the late arrivers aren’t getting called out or disciplined for their lateness. It might even encourage other employees to start showing up late to work if they see no consequence for the bad behavior.

But don’t despair. Businesses have many opportunities to boost the odds that employees will show up when they’re supposed to. So if you want to learn more about how to address tardiness in the workplace and discourage employees from arriving late, keep reading. 

Use a time clock.

Wondering how to motivate employees to come to work on time? It may seem old-fashioned or like you’re micromanaging, but a time clock holds people accountable. Employees will feel more compelled to show up on time if they know they’re being monitored. Time clocks not only record when employees check in and out for the workday, but it also lets them know that you know when they come and go.

Companies can buy a physical time clock that requires employees to punch in and out each day or, if the employees work at computers, time-tracking software can be installed that records when employees log in and out of their workstation.

(Download our eBook 21 Days to Be a More Productive Small Business Owner)

How to write up an employee for being late

Schedule a staff meeting first thing in the day.

Even if it’s a quick five-minute “check-in,” if employees know they are required to attend an all-hands-on-deck meeting with the boss first thing in the workday, they will have good reason to show up on time—or face questions about why they were absent.

labor laws on being late for work

Be clear and consistent about the rules.

If you’re not actively communicating that you expect employees to show up on time, they may think you don’t care if they’re late.

Make sure the employee handbook spells out the expectations about work hours and arriving on time and remind employees of those expectations on a regular basis, such as in staff meetings. Also, make sure the rules are enforced consistently across all employees—or you could be accused of favoritism or unfair treatment.

Having an established way to track lateness—such as using a time clock—can help ensure that consistency.

how to address tardiness in the workplace

Require phone calls.

Make it a requirement that employees who are running more than 15 minutes late must call into the office. Employees are less likely to show up late if they know they have to discuss it with someone.

email to employees about being late

Institute penalties for being late to work.

Depending on your workplace culture and Federal and state employment laws, you may want to create penalties for employees who show up late to work more than, say, once per month. If you’re wondering how to write up an employee for being late, start with a warning letter or email. But if that doesn’t work, you might require them to make up for missed work time at the end of their shifts.

You might consider docking employees’ pay for tardiness but you’ll want to consider labor laws on being late for work. Many states allow employers to dock the pay of employees classified as nonexempt—those who qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week—as long as those employees are given advance written notice of penalties. Salaried employees classified as exempt—meaning they do not qualify for overtime pay—cannot generally have their pay docked under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act rules.

Also, an employee’s paycheck cannot generally be docked if their hourly wage would effectively drop below their state’s minimum wage by doing so.

Of course, any time you create penalties, there can be concerns of unfair treatment. Make sure the consequences of tardiness are spelled out clearly in advance in writing, such as in the employee handbook. Then carefully and consistently enforce those rules as required by law.

Labor laws on being late for work

Make punctuality part of the employee performance review and compensation.

If you’re not sure how to reprimand an employee for tardiness, you may want to consider discussing it in their annual performance review. Perhaps even make it a performance goal for employees who frequently have trouble showing up on time.

By formalizing it as part of the review process, there should be no question that it’s an important part of their performance evaluation.

Timeliness can also be factored into their compensation. Consider tying punctuality to the raises or bonuses. For example, employees who are never late may receive an extra bonus amount, whereas those who are late more than once per month or week receive little or no bonus.

penalties for being late to work

Create a reward program for punctual employees.

Offer rewards—whether an extra day off or a $50 gift certificate to a popular restaurant—for employees who show up on time to work every day for, say, six months straight. This reinforces that being punctual is a key workplace goal.

However, you will need to track punctuality carefully if you’re offering such rewards to avoid being accused of errors or favoritism.

how to reprimand an employee for tardiness

Talk directly to the persistently late employee.

Wondering how to handle tardy employees? Once you’ve tried hands-off approaches to encouraging punctuality, you may still have an employee or two who pushes the envelope on punctuality. In these situations, you’ll need a more direct approach.

Sit down privately with the employee. Let them know you’ve noticed they’ve been regularly late to work and ask them to explain why. (It’s possible they have a personal reason, such as caring for a child before the school day—in which case it may make sense to discuss setting a different work schedule for that employee or creating another workaround.)

Stress to the employee the importance of punctuality to the business’ success and to being part of the team. Remind them that employees are required to arrive to work on time.

Ask them to come up with an action plan for arriving to work on time. Rather than enforcing penalties, it can be more effective to make the employee responsible for correcting their behaviors. They know better than you do why they are persistently late to work, so they are better positioned to find a solution.

Ultimately—if all other strategies fail—you may have to consider taking more severe measures with an employee who doesn’t respect your punctuality rules. If the employee underperforms due to their lateness and continues to show up late, you might consider whether that employee is worth keeping around altogether.

Remember that a manager’s job is keeping employees motivated to work hard—and an employee who consistently breaks the rules is only going to hurt morale.

(Download our eBook 21 Days to Be a More Productive Small Business Owner)

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89 Responses to "What To Do When an Employee Always Shows Up Late"
    • unknown | October 15, 2022 at 8:51 pm

      I am an owner of a customer service based company. My CSR Manager is always late. I am not talking 1 or 2 minutes but anywhere from 1 to 50 minutes late 36 days of 61 days of work. So, they are late more than 1/2 the time they are supposed to be at work. Their start time is 9:45 am Tuesday – Friday and 7:45 am on Saturdays. They only work 8 hour days. It does not matter when I schedule their start time, because they will be late no matter what. The good thing is that they are always at work and they do their job very well. They have been written up recently. Although, that is not helping. I am a firm believer that because they are in a manager position, they need to make a good example for the team members. I would appreciate any advice on how I can manage my CSR Manager when it comes to getting them to work on time.

      • Gene Marks | October 18, 2022 at 11:49 am

        Aha, the performer who flouts the rules. I love this topic. Here are some thoughts:

        1 – Have rules, stick by them, write up the employee when the rules are broken. Warn, suspend, terminate. Rules are there for a reason and no one – manager or staff – is special.

        2 – Make sure you communicate each time there’s a rule violation and document. If it comes time to terminate this should be no surprise to the employee.

        3 – Don’t be afraid to terminate. No one is irreplaceable. Despite the media reports, there are plenty of good people around if compensate fairly (or even better than fairly).

        4 – Remember that this manager is disrespecting you, your company and their colleagues. Their behavior is not fair to others.

    • Steve Moore | May 28, 2022 at 10:30 am

      A guy I work with is late soo much the company changed his clock in time from 7:30 to 10am. The manager punished him with 4 days off and no pay. But upper management overruled it and gave his time back to him. How is this allowed? We service a fortune 500 company. Resentment and poor moral is in full swing.

    • Kevin | March 22, 2022 at 10:16 am

      I have a employee that has been with me for a long time. She is a good worker but always comes in late. I have talked to her and it does not help. She also likes to work 30 min later, That way she can call in the next morning and be 30min late due to traffic, or her power out, or truck not starting. This is a family owned business with a total of 3 employees: My Dad, Me, And her. I would feel by enforcing new rules it would look like we are singling her out. We are in TEXAS and I am aware that we are a “right to work” state and not sure of the things that we can do for this. She has 2 weeks of vacation and within the first 20 days of January she had already used them all up. I feel as if she is a manipulator of the rules. Please any help would be appreciated.

      • Gene Marks | March 23, 2022 at 3:22 pm

        Welcome to 2022 where the most important workplace word is: FLEXIBILITY.

        You write that she’s a good worker. So I’m assuming she has value to you and your business. And that you’re profiting from her work. Also, let’s take into account that good workers are in short supply right now.

        Which means that I think it’s you that has to accommodate her. And that may not be such a bad thing, particularly if you’re demonstrating how much you care about having her as an employee.

        So here’s what I would suggest.
        -make her hours as flexible as you can
        -agree on specific deliverables that she should be delivering as part of her job.
        -monitor how she’s doing and give her constant feedback.

        If she’s doing what you need and you are getting value from her work then giving her a little more flexibility may not be such a big deal.

        Also remember – there’s only 3 of you so it’s not like you have to create a formalized policy for a large workforce. One of the benefits of being a very small business is that you can be flexible.

        Hope this helps.

    • William | November 27, 2021 at 8:10 pm

      I just took over as a supervisor on my shift at work. I have an employee that has been late for work in the last year and was written up for it prior to me taking over. She is experiencing a very big personal tragedy in her family and has been struggling with dealing with it. She was late this am but only by a few minutes but it was seen by everyone. I don’t wanna pile on and write her up however the expectation of our dept if you’re late you get a write up. I talked to her about it and she understands and expects a write up but I still don’t think this is the right course of action today. Any advise?

      • Gene Marks | December 2, 2021 at 8:14 am

        Yes. Work with her. I think that one of the biggest benefits of working for a small business is that there’s less bureaucracy and more flexibility for employees and I think you should help her take advantage of that. Hopefully she will repay that in loyalty going forward. Also, when other employees understand why you’re being flexible I think they’ll also appreciate the benefits of working for you.

    • vitrag sanghavi | November 11, 2021 at 5:10 am

      Notify me of new posts by email.

    • Lisa Roberson | October 25, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      I have an employee who is a great worker but she is late all the time. Some days it is 15 to 30 minutes late. I have spoke with her and even written her up but she still comes in late. She never has an excuse. When I ask her why she is late she says I don’t have an excuse. What can I do to make her accountable for her tardiness?

      • Gene Marks | October 27, 2021 at 2:05 pm

        Create a written policy about work hours. I’d suggest 2 warnings for lateness and hourly workers then have pay docked after that.

    • Shayne | October 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      I have an employee who is paid hourly and has been coming in late anywhere between 1 – 2 mins everyday. It may seem petty, but I don’t think that’s fair to his fellow co-workers who show up on time everyday. He’s been coming in 1:01 everyday for a month? Really! He blames his ride for the tardiness. We spoke to him about how he can leave earlier and even walk to work since he lives about 10-15 mins walking distance away. He has not shown any improvements whatsoever. What would be the best approach?

      • Gene Marks | October 8, 2021 at 8:35 am

        Add a Late Policy to your employee handbook. Most companies give a 15 minute window and then allow themselves the authority to dock wages in 15 minute increments after that.

      • John Rexroat | October 8, 2021 at 1:44 pm

        The status of his “ride” is irrelevant. It is his responsibility to be on time. Where I come from on time is being 5 minutes early. He should be sitting at his desk ready to start. Not just walking in the door. You are not losing one or two minutes but five or ten by the time he is ready to work. Do not facilitate him by offering solutions even though you are just trying to be helpful. It is not your problem to fix. If he does not get it together, maybe his replacement will do better.

    • James | July 5, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      When employee doesn’t show up others have to stay late. That’s not fair to other employees.

      • Small Biz Ahead | July 6, 2021 at 7:36 am

        Thanks for sharing, James! That’s a good point.

      • James | November 10, 2021 at 12:17 am

        What if the other employees don’t have to stay late? Does it matter then?

    • John Rexroat | March 18, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      My Engineering Department also added a policy that, if you were late, there’s no overtime for the next 5 days. Our worst offender was late everyday because he had a business on the side and he would stop there on his way to work. And, he loved OT. Once that policy was put in he most amazingly found he could be on time.

      • Small Biz Ahead | March 19, 2021 at 12:02 pm

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reading our article, John!

    • Karl S | March 17, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Also helps to have very clear expectations at the interview. Being late is inexcusable. I think I have been late 1x in my 30 years of employment. And my boss was called hours in advance. I agree you are on time only if you are early. It allows for traffic jams, a flat or whatever. My car is maintained, my clothes and breakfast are ready. I am shocked when the employee is late and they are mad at the employer. 1. Clear expectations, 2. Warnings, written documentation. 3. 3 strikes of unexcused tardiness you are gone. It is not worth the companies time and it pulls everyone down. Sometimes the best thing is to let them go and you will see other employees have better loyalty towards the company. First to arrive and last to leave will give you a healthy career.

      • Small Biz Ahead | March 18, 2021 at 12:33 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Karl!

    • Chuck | February 12, 2021 at 8:34 am

      The bottom line is accountability! You be accountable for yourself and show up to work on time, period! There is absolutely NO reason to show up to work late on a daily basis unless the late arrival has been discussed with management! Additionally, management in most cases is not an hourly position and management staff work quite a bit more hours than the normal 40 per week! Comparing management arrival times to your arrival time is just another excuse!!

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 12, 2021 at 1:59 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Chuck!

      • James | November 10, 2021 at 12:35 am

        Management may work more than 40 hours per week, but, in my experience, they were compensated for it with salaries 50-300% more than the hourly employees under them were paid. I don’t think it’s too much to have them play by the same rules as everyone else. Lead by example and all that.

    • Dresden Skees-Gregory | December 31, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      Managers should keep in mind that if they try to use a time clock with exempt employees the employee could have a Labor Dept. case for demanding to be reclassified as nonexempt, and therefore qualified for overtime and possibly union membership if your site has unions. That could cost the business much more than someone being 5 minutes late too often.

    • Richard P | December 21, 2020 at 6:02 am

      We are dealing with this issue right now. Our employees are classroom leaders in a child care center. The children start coming in at 8:00 am and if an employee is late that means the child (children) are unsupervised. In the last month, one employee has been ON TIME twice. We do use a clock-in system and the employee does stay over at the end of the day, which is also helpful because it’s a busy time of the day. We do have a relaxed work environment and the employee is caring with the children. But the concern remains that children can’t be left unattended. In her absence, we (the owners) have to be in the classroom. That hasn’t seemed to impact the employee. The most challenging aspect about understanding this behavior, is that the employee lives two blocks away and walks to work. But there is always a reason. Some good. Some not. We are going to have a conversation surrounding safety and then weigh out the options. I suspect that the tardiness has more to do with issues of authority than with difficulty managing time.

      • Liz Macauley | December 21, 2020 at 3:46 pm

        Thanks for the comment, Richard!

    • John C. | December 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm

      Words from a wise professor of mine!

      If you’re early, you are on time.
      If you’re on time, you’re late.
      If you’re late, you don’t matter.

      Funny how all the employees blame someone else and the employers/managers see it differently. They are the ones who take responsibility for their actions and is probably why they are now the managers/employers!!

    • Km | December 17, 2020 at 10:58 am

      The employee that is late everyday for work did give some good advise; but, what about the employee that is always late everyday from lunch. I mean about 30 minutes late…do you handle that the same way???

    • Nancy | December 17, 2020 at 2:13 am

      I think that arrival time for employees should be based upon the job itself and the actual need.
      Having been an employer for many years, I know that my receptionist needs to be punctual and have set hours so as to greet people, answer calls and emails. Others in the office can make up time in the afternoon if they are late in the morning, because their job does not require time dependent duties. If a person is consistently late, I am open to having a later start time if the job permits. I prefer to respect my staff. I find that most people will have better work performance when they are trusted to do their job.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 2:02 pm

        Thank you for commenting, Nancy!

    • John Rexroat | December 16, 2020 at 9:07 pm

      Being on time is a choice. How far away one lives is the employee’s choice, so any choices that need to be made to be on time are the employee’s responsibility. If you are regularly late because of traffic, leave earlier. Do not plan to walk in the door at starting time. Plan to be early. Yes, things still happen but punctuality is a mind set. I worked in the Chicago area and we had snow. My department of 20 Industrial Engineers was still on time every day. It is being responsible and committed to the job and the company. Reading all the previous posts was really interesting. Remember: The best excuse you ever had is still just an excuse.
      I work 110% – highly unlikely. As a time study expert for 25 years I can tell you almost no one ever does that. And what the other employees in your office or work place do, and get away with, has nothing to do with you. Poor managers can also contribute by not managing all staff the same but the responsibility still rest on you.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 2:07 pm

        Those are interesting points. Thanks for commenting, John!

    • Deward Stout | December 16, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      It sure is nice to have a business that is run by automation. My doors automatically unlock and lock at a certain time the thermostat is preset. The machines work when someone pushes the button. My cleaning people can show up when ever they want as long as it is ready for the next day. Repairs are handled when needed ASAP. It a wonderful life.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:17 pm

        That does sound convenient. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karl S | December 16, 2020 at 9:39 am

      I was taught, if you are on time you are late. You are on time if you are early. In my entire life I have never been late. Now fast forward to my business. We have the same culture. I hire the same and that is the expectation. When people start early we start paying them. People call me when they are coming in late, which may happen a couple times per year and most even tell me in advance that they will be late because of whatever it may be. Because it is our work culture, if you are late you are done and will be let go. You know those employees. Just let them go. Vet the new hires, give them expectations. Whenever we let someone go for some habitual behavior, everyone else is relieved as it is a distraction to office and our goals. People bring up all these excuses. Well I would suggest for them to either figure it out or go else where.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:49 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Karl!

    • Dominick Siconolfi | December 16, 2020 at 7:40 am

      I have multiple employees who are late by just a minute or two almost daily. They reply to me “I was here.” Everyone knows this is not acceptable because this one or two minutes turns into 5-10. They need to go to the break room to put away their belongings, then use the lavatory.

      I have decided to pay bonuses weekly, up to 15% of gross pay in a separate check with all state and federal taxes paid by me! Bonuses are determined by sales goals and are restricted to employees in good standing for that pay period.

      First week, 50% of staff did not receive any bonus checks!

      I will follow up in a few weeks.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:07 pm

        Thanks for your feedback, Dominick!

    • Chris C | December 16, 2020 at 7:35 am

      I hire good folks to work for me. Sometimes that goes sour. Life happens. Things change. When that happens to an employee, I expect to hear from them about it and listen to the problem; try to help if I can. If it starts to affect their work, we talk again. If it still affects work, we talk a last time with a clear understanding of the consequences. That is just business. If I have a worker that cannot get to work on time because he just can’t get up or his alarm clock never goes off, we talk. Enough times and it’s out the door. When you sign on the dotted line, you agree to work for wages and by the rules set in place by the employer or you get let go. It costs too much time and energy to deal with people that do not value the job or their company. With a retail business, your focus is to sell your product while trying to keep your customer base happy. Good employees know and understand this and want to be a part of the plan. Bad ones just want to get a paycheck.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:05 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Chris!

    • Mark | December 16, 2020 at 3:27 am

      We have the ability for staff to come in between 7am and 9am. What I find is that by providing that flexibility to all staff, rarely is anyone late and regarding meetings that’s so far never an issue.

      If someone were to have issues with arriving as convenient as it is, I would anticipate peer pressure would be brought to bear.

      I appreciate that this might not work for some, but find that with the staff here it seems to be a strong factor in motivating voluntary compliance, especially when it’s structured in a way to make everyone’s life more positive and no one wants to risk loosing it or having to be at a place that doesn’t provide it.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:03 pm

        Interesting points, Mark! Thanks for sharing.

    • Michael | December 16, 2020 at 12:30 am

      Just re-schedule them 15-30 minutes before you want them to arrive.

      • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm

        Thanks for your comment, Michael!

    • Bart's sister-in-law | December 15, 2020 at 10:59 pm

      My brother-in-law had a construction job ACROSS THE STREET from where he was living, and he was never on time. Distance has nothing to do with!

    • Mark Rosenthal | December 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm

      Something to look into is a practice called “TWI Job Relations.”
      It is a process that teaches a leader how to handle issues such as this in a way that is fair, deals with facts, and always keeps the objective in mind.

      • Liz Macauley | December 21, 2020 at 4:14 pm

        Great suggestion, Mark!

    • Deliahla Jones | August 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      When you are serving the public, you need to be available and ready for when you open your business.

      When you have someone who is late 14 days out of a month and you’ve tried every incentive, to reflect in their review and that affects their bonus or pay raise. No affect.
      Not to mention this brings down the moral of the other staff members that this is a continue cycle. So I tried to reduce their benefits of Paid time off, that hit them where it hurts and had an affect.
      I get it if your late once in a while but to do it on a daily basis and don’t care. That person who said she didn’t like managers harping on her T/A. Well, she would be one person that would be unemployed. That is a horrible attitude,
      Its all about mind sets, and if you don’t have it you don’t work for my office.
      I say live by example, I have never been late and I manage over 30 staff members. It just takes one person to spoil it for everyone.
      Then it starts the remaining staff that showed up on time, have their day off to a bad start and don’t think that doesn’t reflect in the business. Because your always covering for that late person.

    • T | May 10, 2020 at 11:08 am

      nothings worse than an employer who only cares about lates, especially when you are an extremely hard and productive worker.. you come in ten minutes late and make up for it the first 5 minutes of your shift, while your co-worker who was on time sits on their cell phone on facebook while you do all the work and no one bats an eye…another co worker ignores every customer and takes hr long breaks when its supposed to be 15 min, but all that is ok because they were not late , it also seems ok for people to call in sick 3 out of 4 of their shifts with no consequences, afterall they were sick not late right, so in the end it is the overworked productive employee with the foot and back damage caused by their loyal hard work that will get suspended / fired from the job, because they were 5 minutes late everyday.

      • Dominick Siconolfi | December 16, 2020 at 7:56 am

        I have a few employees with similar opinions. In 100% of these employees, my review of their work performance is quite the opposite, and is always in line with their punctuality.

      • JK | December 16, 2020 at 12:26 pm

        The article is assuming other qualities and habits are equal, since it is addressing just the one quality/habit of punctuality. That said, GOOD managers/employers DO care about personal lives but are REQUIRED to do what is best for the company. I agree that punctuality should be equally treated along with time on facebook, personal calls, filing nails, long breaks etc. What you are describing sounds like a poor manager who only cares about not getting into trouble him/herself by upper management who can see time clock documentation. He/she isn’t any better of an employee than those who are late or doing these other things – all these poor work habits/ethics are “stealing” from the company one way or another. They need to find a company they believe in or care enough about to do their best and become a better person working for a more stable company in the process!

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:39 pm

          Thanks for sharing your feedback!

    • Mr. Bizness | March 11, 2020 at 10:16 am

      I grew up watching my father run a family business, sometimes managing 10 employees in a very busy construction business. I took over 25 years ago when he handed the business to me. Having the right staff can make or break your business, Which includes attitude, appearance, work ethic, honesty, and trustworthiness. Once my dad sent an employee home to go change his clothes because he showed up with tattered jeans and torn shirt. His appearance reflects the reputation of our business and our good name. Years later we got reports back about my dad‘s good name and reputation of our business has gotten us repeat business because of his ability to maintain a great working staff.

      Granted, we’ve worked with many ADHD, dyslexic, other “disabilities“ in men who were excellent workers but had trouble with common issues. We groomed them to be on time and to be respectful went on the job. We also did not allow them to cross over the line of insubordination. If that were the case, there are many other guys standing in line needing a job to replace them. And believe me, they got replaced.

      As an employer, most employees do not realize the impact they have on the stress level of their employer when they miss expected deadlines, show up late, deviate from normal and good business. Couple that with a lousy attitude, and it’s time for you to find another job.

      We had one secretary that would change her make up and filed her nails half the day. We caught her talking on her cell phone on personal calls more than once, and she didn’t like it when she got reprimanded. She ended up filing her nails at the unemployment office.

      And in the same breath, if you were loyal and helped support our business, you would become friends for life! We’ve bent over backwards giving perks and bonuses, tips and other necessary additions to an employee that was loyal, honest, and had a good attitude. They become worth their weight in gold.

      My two cents!

    • Victoria | March 11, 2020 at 1:49 am

      I have both ADHD and ASD and being on time is one of my biggest struggles in life.

      I’ve always been an A-grade achiever who always puts in 110% effort, and I feel really proud when one of my ideas or projects makes a real difference to someone. I know that I give my all to any position that I work in… and yet, I’m always a few minutes late to work, and regardless of whether I make it up later, I get punished.

      I’ve spent years and dozens of techniques trying to find something that works for me, but I only ever seem to improve marginally. I have missed personal appointments before and had to pay a fee. I have missed whole flights. I don’t WANT to be late, and I find it extremely distressing when I am, but I can’t seem to ever fully get a handle on it.

      So for someone like me, it’s really disheartening feeling like your entire worth to your employer comes from those first few minutes in the morning, especially if you work in a role where being a bit tardy doesn’t impact anyone else’s job. It’s like you could jump through hoops all day and be adding value to the business, but all they see is someone who is always late and needs to be reprimanded.

      • R Martin | December 16, 2020 at 10:18 am

        Thank you, Victoria, for sharing exactly what I wanted to say. Attention Deficit Disorder, seasonal depression, and chronic pain are heavy burdens that I bear. Even when I go to bed early, “busy brain” or physical pain often keep me from getting adequate sleep. This makes waking up “on time” a struggle. Removing my (often) painful body from the bed is both a physical and mental struggle. Sometimes every aspect of getting ready in the morning is a struggle (like it was yesterday, and I had to stop by the chiropractor for a walk-in-please-help-me-now visit before arriving at the office over an hour late despite my ONE MILE commute). Some people would call these “excuses.” They simply DO NOT Know The daily battle we fight. Punishment does not fix what I call a broken brain. We need guidance, support, and HELP!

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm

          Great insights. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mohamed | February 18, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      I Mohamed disagree with statements about commute the person applied for the job there for should now what the commute is to get to work on time. If they can not get to work on time and trying to use commute as an excuse find a job closer to home. These employees that can’t get to work on time need to figure out there life and not hold us to there poor expectations. This is 2020 they need to grow up and pull your pants up and get to work on time bottom line.

      Regards Mohamed

    • Jo Otto | February 5, 2020 at 2:10 am

      I am in charge of our creative communications team. Having more than 30 years of experience in both private and public fields and have been in my current position for 3 years.
      I am continually shocked and surprised at my subordinate’s attitude to basic professional behaviour. I refuse to blame it all on ‘Millennial’ attitude.

      It is not cool to be perpetually late for work – its sloppy and disrespectful. And it certainly affects my opinion of the staff member in question.
      It is not a ok to release documents which contain spelling and/or syntax errors – when I pointed out a spelling on a Facebook post to one of my communicators recently she responded – ‘Oh it’s not so serious, its Facebook’ I was frankly shocked.

      To those of you such as Shannon above – remember that your current supervisor is also the person who will be contacted for a reference when you change jobs, I have no problem being truthful when giving references, no matter how much I think our team will be improved by releasing someone from our service.

      At some point tardy time keeping, negative attitude and general apathy to rules and expected bahaviours become part of one’s operational outputs. In other words your behaviour becomes the quality of the work you do. And that is why adherence to professional behaviours and norms are attractive in employees, to me it means that I can trust you to apply the same quality to your work.

    • My Lunchbox | January 20, 2020 at 11:46 am

      Scenario #1: I’m a business owner that depends on my employees consistently arriving on-time to work. When they are late, it wastes my time as an employer when I’ve scheduled work, I have to postpone appointments with clients, which tarnishes my reputation for being dependable, and it may take an hour for the late employee to get their head in the game once they finally get there. I attribute consistent tardiness to either (a) a sense of entitlement by the employee–their life situations are more important that keeping their job; (b) they have a learning disorder that affects their ability to assess time and space; (c) they just dont care, and have expected others to always pick up the slack when they mess up; (d) they have personal problems at home that affect other areas of their life. They become undependable.

      SCENARIO #2: they have a job where schedule is fluid–working from home; completing tasks by certain deadlines; on-call positions that depend on availability rather than punching a time clock. If the employee is not performing or completing their tasks on time, there is a concern as to whether they are a good fit for the job.

      I have learned to be somewhat flexible, with the understanding that good communication is imperative. If someone is late, call in to prepare me so I can plan around it–that’s just common human etiquette. It’s reasonable to have rules in place if someone is over 20 minutes late, their pay should reflect their lack of time on the job. Consistent tardiness may result in the termination of a position, or a restriction to any bonuses, raises, or other perks that punctual employees deserve.

      • Chloe Silverman | January 21, 2020 at 8:46 am

        Great insights! Thank you for the comment.

    • Shannon Nealey | December 31, 2019 at 12:06 am

      I’m late to work all the time. Sometimes it’s because of traffic or accidents or bad weather. Sometimes it’s because I was worked to death the day before and didn’t have time to recover sufficiently before the next shift.

      But to be honest, I just don’t give a shit when I get to work. I show up everyday I’m scheduled to work. I’ve always had a relaxed attitude toward time and I’m no hypocrite, either. I don’t trip if someone is late; I just get on with getting my work done.

      In my line of work (nursing homes) someone is always late, calls off or is a no call no show. Hey, it happens. I just don’t let it affect my job; I still get everything done.

      I don’t care for managers who harp on punctuality, especially in a place where people can’t even be counted on to come to work in the first place. I’ve quit jobs when managers kept making a big deal about the time I get to work. They stand by the door or watch the clock and then waste even more of my time bitching about my tardiness. I once walked in the door about 15 minutes late. The manager was standing by the door and looking at the clock. As soon as I walked in the door, she started in on me.

      I stood there for about three minutes while she ranted; I simply turned around and left. I got back in my car and left. The next day, I went to work like nothing happened. I never heard another word about it.

      • Joel | March 17, 2021 at 1:31 am

        My first job out of college when I had to clock in at 7:42 every day (and this was OK because quitting time was 4:22 after a 30 min lunch break at noon), I just left my house at 6:30 and arrived at my desk, usually as early as 7:15, drank my coffee and read the paper for 1/2 hour. I was always the first one there, always before my super, but rarely was I ever late.

    • Alg | December 5, 2019 at 11:28 am

      When a person accepts a position, they should be aware of their own commute commitment. If it doesn’t work with their ability to meet the obligation, they should not accept the job. That is part of being a responsible person, knowing what they’re committing to before they commit.

      For me as a supervisor, it is not entirely about punctuality. An employee who completes assignments works when they are at work, and is reliable in all other ways is not a burden when they are a few minutes late or even have lots of appointments to take care of and manage them well.

      Employees who are as the article describes, 5 minutes to hours late in an ever-increasing or unpredictable manner are a disturbance, a stressor for me, and a strain for the whole team. It’s not fair to their teammates to let it slide. Also, it tends to become contagious. Employees observe one another as much as we observe them. “Equal is not always fair”, and whether a person is on the spectrum, depressed, in a wheelchair or average in every way, all I ask is that they be a team player. Stressing out your bosses, by being chronically late and slacking off on the job is not good team behavior. My late husband was on the spectrum and in a wheelchair. He was never late despite severe weather and a long commute. He did what needed to be done to fulfill his commitments.

      I offer many supports, training, and alternative schedules to every chronic employee. But most often this personality doesn’t absorb or care to use these options anyway, so I end up wasting a lot of money and time trying to be supportive. I myself am a single mother with two children, working full-time, taking care of a home and cars, and my own health issues. So, I have many opportunities for excuses, but I made a commitment to my team and my work. If I can persevere, most of these people could too. They choose not to. It’s selfish behavior.

      • Chloe Silverman | December 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

        Thank you for sharing your insights! Excellent points.

      • Sara | December 16, 2020 at 11:36 am

        Totally agree with you!! I am a single mom also a manager too.
        I’m still trying to figure out how to be nice and not to be manipulated by employees who are always late for work><

      • Phil Jankovich | December 16, 2020 at 8:42 pm

        A “chronic employee”! I know what you meant, but this phrase caught my attention. I was a chronic employee once. To overcome my chronic employment, I quit and started my own company! I hope to never be a chronic employee again.

    • ANNIE G. | October 18, 2019 at 4:50 am

      This is very interesting that employee should call in the office when he/ she is late because when it is known that that employee is not punctual this will make him/her be ashamed and never make it a habit even though there is an understandable reason for being late.

      • KELLEY | December 16, 2020 at 8:02 pm

        As an employer I do understand accidents and tell my employees not to rush, but when an employee is late 3/6 days and they walk in with Starbucks or Wawa coffee it gets old. They are usually repeat offenders and the “poor me” excuse is hard on everyone especially the owner that has to be responsible for picking up the slack! BE ADULT PEOPLE AND STOP WITH THE REPETATIVE EXCUSES- LEAVE EARLIER.

    • T. Clark | September 29, 2019 at 8:10 am

      In response to Robert Messenger.

      I could not disagree more.

      The commute time is actually irrelevant. Even if you live just a few minutes from your job it won’t stop accidents, slow moving vehicles or vehicle breakdowns from adding to your commute time. I once got stuck behind two snow plows that were blocking both lanes of traffic in the direction I needed to go to get to work. It added 10 minutes to my normally 6 minute drive. But that was the exception NOT the norm. If you know your route and know how long it normally takes you can plan for things like that and still arrive on time. In bad weather you can also tack on some extra time to make sure you can drive for the conditions. But to say that someone asking you to be on time forces you to speed? No. That is just bad planning on your part.

      I deal with people that are perpetually late on my job. The unfortunate thing though is that it is shift work and I can’t leave until they get there, Sure they all have a seemingly good excuse. But why is it that I can deal with the loss of a pet, little to no sleep, sick family members, bad weather, no vehicle for weeks at a time, illness and stress in my personal life and STILL manage to make it to work on time?

    • Robert Messenger | September 24, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      This does not allow an apples to apples comparison because it assumes that each employee at the workplace has similar commute distances and obstacles. I commute 43 miles one-way, which is much more than most of my co-workers. My rank-and-file coworkers have commutes of 15 miles or less. Furthermore, it is perfectly acceptable for my supervisor and her supervisor to frequently show up late, and they also commute 30 to 40 miles one way.

      It is unacceptable to expect more from your employees than you do of yourselves but I guess that management hypocrisy is not the subject of this article.

      Requiring me to be “rigidly on time” (8:00 am without a 7 minute grace period) forces me to drive excessively fast on the freeway and put myself and other drivers in danger. The nature of my work is independent and being up to one hour late does not affect other employees UNLESS a meeting is scheduled and I cannot attend because I was late.

      Otherwise, a blind adherence to being to work on-time is corporate fascism.

      • Herb H. | December 15, 2020 at 11:01 pm

        There really is almost no reason to be late for work or anything else for that matter. I’ll bet if you won the lottery and had to be there by 8:00am to collect, you wouldn’t be late. In fact, you would be early. Just depends on how important it is. If work is not important you will be late. Winning the lottery you will be early. Then again if you won the lottery 365 days per year you might end up late by the end of the year. Many people don’t realize just having a job is like winning the lottery.

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm

          Thanks for sharing!

      • Dominick Siconolfi | December 16, 2020 at 7:46 am

        Simple solution, leave 5 minutes early. If traffic is a known issue, factor that into commute time. It is not a crime to arrive early. If you worked for me I would congratulate you on job performance, but eliminate you from weekly bonus pool. Over time you would either grow up or let your attitude get you fired.

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm

          Arriving early is always a good option. Thanks for sharing!

      • DinaG | December 16, 2020 at 9:26 am

        It short and simple. It’s your decision to wake up late and arrive late. Be responsible and manage your time appropriately to avoid having to rush. You have no idea what the other coworkers/employees have going on in their lives, you can not compare your situation to theirs. Stop worrying about what other people are doing and worry about yourself. Get to work on time and hustle, it makes you look better than them in the long run. Bottom line.. there is no excuse to be late that often.

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 2:19 pm

          Thanks for commenting, Dina!

      • Nick Ofiesh | December 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

        I don’t care if you live 100 miles away from work each way. You know your life pattern, and the obstacles that you may face during your commute, and the time it takes you to get there. You are able to adjust your lifestyle to get there safely and accordingly to your schedule.

      • John | December 18, 2020 at 1:02 pm

        If you knew you would have a longer commute than others when you decided to live farther from work than most, that is your problem not your companies or co-workers
        Try taking responsibility for yourself and wake up earlier!!

      • Jeanette | December 21, 2020 at 12:48 am

        I worked at a pharmacy where we had to wait outside until the pharmacist/manager got to work to let us in. He was perpetually late by as much as ten minutes, so if I arrived on time, I had to wait outside and deal with aggravated customers, sometimes in the dead of winter. Mind you, he was not the owner, simply the manager. I tend to run last minute anyway, but his behavior sure made it hard to want to be punctual. And then when he did my review, he had the nerve to chastise me for being late! I say practice what you preach and set a good example for your underlings. Oh, and by the way, I did stay late to make up for my time.

        • Liz Macauley | December 21, 2020 at 3:02 pm

          Thanks for the comment, Jeanette!

    • Gaurab Das | July 8, 2019 at 1:19 am

      Never ever force any employee too much to come early….Often it leads to rush in the road and accidents.

      Nothing happens if someone is little late everyday.

      Better late than never.

      • Hannah Stacy | July 9, 2019 at 9:45 am

        Good point!

      • Mila R | December 16, 2020 at 10:02 am

        As an employee, is my responsibility to manage my time and not to make excuses for my tardiness. Rules and times are there for us to follow. If something does not work, talk to your employer, but don’t make excuses. If we want to be trusted, being on time is big.

        Here is where time management is very useful. I make sure I am on time every day by waking up at 4:30am, working out, fixing my breakfast, packing my lunch and then getting ready. I am out the door by 7am. My start time is at 7:30am but I am always at work by 7:15. The latest I’ve been is 7:28 if traffic is bad. My employer knows that am reliable and they can count on me being on time.

        If you treat your time like money, you will not be wasting it. Just figure what works best for you, but don’t fall in to being late to work.

        • Liz Macauley | December 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

          Great points, Mila!

      • Michelle | December 16, 2020 at 8:15 pm

        Lots of things happen when an employee is late, especially everyday! That person cannot be counted on, has no respect for their job or co-workers and no sense of responsibility. It is such a drain on co-workers picking up the slack and for management to try and curtail that behavior. Habitual tardiness leads up to hours per week of non-productiveness. It’s selfish and immature to be habitually tardy.

      • Rachel Lang | December 17, 2020 at 2:18 pm

        Gaurab Das – Agreed! So what if someone’s a little late as long as they accurately keep track of their time? Not everyone is a morning person. I’d rather my employee get to work safely and in good spirits rather than rushing, possibly causing an accident, and then being cranky about it all.

    • Stella Collins | November 13, 2018 at 9:07 am

      This article was very informative and helpful. Dealing with employees within itself is difficult.
      it gave me an insight on how to talk in a positive manner when dealing with late and sometimes difficult employees.

      • Hannah Sullivan | November 13, 2018 at 10:09 am

        Thank you for your feedback, Stella!

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