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

Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of working life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. So, as an employer, what can you do about it?

First and foremost, make sure you have clear workplace rules in place – if your employees know what to expect then there is no argument to be had!

Rules for timekeeping can include:

  • The required standards of timekeeping, i.e. working hours, shift patterns, any flexi-time or flexible working arrangements
  • Any consequences of persistent lateness
  • What disciplinary action will be taken under the disciplinary procedure
  • How you will monitor time keeping, for example with a signing-in sheet or clocking in machine
  • If, and how, an employee will have to make up any time they have missed
  • Who they should report lateness to if they know are going to be late and by when

Before lateness turns into chronic lateness it needs to be nipped in the bud! Have an honest conversation with your employee – there could be genuine reasons for the lateness (such as being a carer for a family member, poorly children, car keeps breaking down etc.) or it could be they just have poor time management.

If it’s a genuine reason then offer support and a solution, if possible. As the employee is a valued member of the team, the best thing you can do as an employer is look after them and support them when needed.

Where employees are finding it difficult to manage home and work responsibilities, consider introducing flexible working arrangements.

If they are just plain lazy, undependable, forget to set their alarm, and are not particularly bothered about being on time then that situation needs to be handled in a firm and concise manner. Lateness itself is almost certainly not serious enough to be gross misconduct, although lying about the reasons could be. Always follow a fair disciplinary procedure – if you’re unsure we’re here to help!

Whatever you do though never ignore the issue; from the first count of lateness make sure it’s mentioned even if it’s just with a passing comment. Employees have a duty to be at work on time!