How do you deal with an employee who is always late?

From time to time, we’re all late; it is part of life. We’ve all been there, including being delayed in traffic, broken down cars and even sleeping through an alarm! Whether it’s bad traffic, oversleeping or caring for a sick pet, when they turn up late for work, workers give up plenty of different reasons. As the director, you could forget it for the first time. But what if this transforms into a pattern?

But as an employer, for productivity as well as the overall performance, punctual workers who are strong and passionate are important. Employee lateness is one of the most common concerns business owners and managers find impacts on the company’s effectiveness. While managers expect that staff members may often be late, if staff begin to be late for work on a regular basis, steps need to be taken to protect the organization and strengthen the team’s work ethic.

This should be dealt with accordingly if you find that a staff member is persistently coming late. Otherwise, the employee in question will assume that this is not a problem and start to turn up even later. In addition, the behavior of the late employee can also make other staff members wonder whether they bother to arrive at work on time , causing other late employees to arrive.

And maybe the issue won’t stop there. Showing approval of the constant lateness of an employee will cause them to become more relaxed with other business policies, and you may find that the team’s overall work efficiency and work ethic decreases.

Managers pay their workers for their time at the end of the day, and they order employees to work particular hours to ensure that all the work can be done. An employee who is consistently late is thus efficiently stealing time from the company. A late employee can begin to fall back on their job and either hurry or leave things unfinished. In addition, constant lateness of employees may create friction between colleagues, as team members working alongside them can end up having to do more work to cover up any frustration and ill-feeling towards their colleague. When they work well together and interact well, teams perform most efficiently, so the team’s overall effectiveness can be undermined.

For coping with someone who is always late, there are no hard and fast rules. As every employee and their personal situation, every manager is different. With this being said, though, if you want to deal with a late employee, there are several steps that you can take.

1. Schedule a morning staff meeting.
Even if it’s a brief “check-in” of five minutes, if workers realize that they are expected to attend an all-hands-on-deck meeting with the manager first on the workday, they would have good reason to turn up on time or face questions about why they were absent.


2. Be clear about the rules and be consistent.
If you don’t actively convey that you expect workers to turn up on time, they may feel that if they’re late, you don’t care. Make sure that the employee handbook describes the requirements for working hours and arriving on time and reminds workers on a regular basis of those requirements, such as in staff meetings. Often, make sure that all workers consistently follow the rules, otherwise you might be accused of favoritism otherwise unequal treatment. Having a proven way to monitor lateness may help ensure this consistency, such as using a time clock.

3. Document the rules
A lateness policy could be considered unnecessary in its own right, but a lateness portion may be integrated, for example, into existing policies and procedures covering Absence Management or Time and Attendance. The strategy needs to include:

— The expected standard of employees: details of working hours, stressing that as soon as their shift is scheduled to begin, employees should be ready and prepared to start work.

– The procedure for reporting lateness: if an employee knows they’re going to be late, who should they report this to?

– Details of how working time will be tracked and recorded: do you use timesheets or do employees need to physically clock in when on-site?

– If applicable, provide details on how employees can make up the time they have lost from arriving late.

– A comment on the potential disciplinary action which could be taken for persistent lateness.

– A comment that lateness should be avoided as it is disruptive for everyone.

Make sure that all workers are aware of any new policy or changes to the process and equally enforced in the entire organization. If this is something new to your business or if you have a specific employee lateness problem, then consider running short seminars for employees to attend to highlight the effect of lateness, go over the processes with them and provide an opportunity for questions.

4. Dealing with the persistently late employee proactively
Don’t wait until you’re frustrated and irritated, or until the rest of the team feels frustrated. Until you get to this level, talk to the late employee to help prevent it from coming to that point. Schedule a meeting with the employee in question and gather all the data you have about their working hours, incidents of lateness, reasons, etc. in the meantime.

5. Respect their confidentiality
Although it is important for you to address the subject with an employee who is often late, be mindful of their privacy. Instead of facing them and sharing your complaints in the main office, take them to one side to address their lateness, which can cause embarrassment. For their lateness, there could be a delicate or personal cause, so approach the discussion with respect and allow them the opportunity to take your concerns and say their piece.

Ultimately, you will have to consider taking more serious action with an employee who does not follow the rules of punctuality if all other methods fail. If the worker fails because of their lateness and tends to turn up late, you can wonder whether it is worth having the worker around altogether.

Know that the role of a manager is to keep workers motivated to work hard, and an employee who violates the rules regularly can only hurt morale.

Check out my related post: How to tell your boss you will be late for work?

Interesting reads:,reporting%20to%20work%20on%20time.

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