Dealing with an employee who is always late

By 20/12/2016 November 29th, 2019 Absence Management, Employee Management
Dealing with a late employee

If you have established a business and want to make it a success the one thing you need behind you is a strong and passionate team of staff, this is a necessity if you want the business to grow and thrive.  This, however, does mean that the employees you choose to hire can impact on the success of your business and this is especially true of staff members who have a poor work ethic.  One of the most common problems business owners and managers find impacts on the effectiveness of the company is employee lateness.  Though managers assume staff members will occasionally be late, if employees begin to regularly be late for work, then actions need to be taken to protect the company and to improve the work ethic amongst the team.

Why you need to deal with an employee who is always late

As a manager, you expect staff members to be late every now and then, their train may be delayed, their car may have broken down, they might have had a personal emergency, whatever the cause for the lateness is, managers, accept that this is sometimes the way life is.  However, managers and business owners cannot accept a situation where an employee is continually late for work, simply because this acceptance will only make the situation worse.  If you notice that a staff member is persistently arriving late to work this should be dealt with accordingly, otherwise, the employee in question may think that this is not an issue and start turning up late even more.  Furthermore, the late employee’s actions may even make other staff members consider why they are bothering to arrive at work on time, causing other employee lateness. The problem may not end there, staff may become more relaxed with the company rules and you may find that the overall quality of work and work ethic of the team, decreases.

At the end of the day, managers pay their staff for their time and they request staff work specific hours to ensure that all the work can be completed, therefore if an employee is arriving late they are effectively stealing time from the company. Late employees may start to fall behind on their work and either rush things, or leave them uncompleted.  In addition, the employee lateness may cause tension with other colleagues, as the team members who work alongside the late employee may end up having to do more work, to cover for their colleague causing some resentment and ill-feeling. Teams work most effectively when they work closely together and communicate well, so the overall effectiveness of the team may be compromised.
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3 Steps for dealing with an employee who is always late

There are no hard and fast rules for dealing with someone who is always late, every manager is different as is every employee and their personal situation.  However, with this being said, there are some steps that you should take if you want to deal with a late employee and change their habits once and for all:

  1. Document the rules: a lateness policy in its own right might be considered excessive, but a section on lateness could be incorporated into existing policies and procedures covering Absence Management or Time and Attendance for example. The policy should include:
  • The standard expected of employees – details of working hours, highlighting that employees should be ready and prepared to start work as soon as their shift is scheduled to start.
  • The consequences of frequently arriving late for work.
  • The procedure for reporting lateness – if employees know they are 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 the procedure is communicated to all employees and implemented fairly throughout the entire company. If this is something new to your company or if you have a particular problem with employee lateness, then consider running brief workshops for employees to attend in order to highlight the impact of lateness, go through the procedures with them and provide an opportunity for questions.

  1. Maintain records: keep track of employee lateness and if you see one or two staff members are late much more than the rest of the working team, consider that you may have to deal with them. Keeping records means you will be able to use them as evidence when you speak to the employee in question, showing them facts rather than voicing your opinion about their tardiness.
  1. Proactively deal with the persistently late employee: do not wait until you are angry and annoyed, or the rest of the team are feeling annoyed. Speak to the late employee before you get to this stage to help avoid it getting to that point. Schedule a meeting with the employee in question and in the interim, collate all the information you have regarding their working times, instances of lateness and reasons etc.

Having a meeting about a late member of staff

When meeting with the employee try to remain calm, do not make it personal and avoid getting angry, remember you are annoyed with the time lost over lateness, not the actual employee personally. Speak through your concerns over their lateness, showing them evidence and referring back to the policy. Explain that you want to understand what is causing their lateness and find out if there’s something you could help with. Try to understand whether they have any personal problems, medical issues or any other reasons which might be causing them to be late. Remember to bear in mind any potential issues which could arise through discrimination and any adjustments which could reasonably be made by the company in order to support the employee. Finally, come up with an action plan to try to prevent lateness from becoming an on-going issue.

Don’t let employee lateness impact upon the success of your business.

Natural HR helps by providing self-service leave requests, approvals and absence management, enabling you to define and track different time-off types. All this data is reflected in a company calendar, helping you keep tabs on who is off and when, but you’ll also be presented with a clear snapshot of which employees are consistently late to work.

Book your free one to one demo to see how you can better manage your employees’ timekeeping.

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About Natural HR

Natural HR is a cloud-based HR software company for growing businesses with 100+ employees. Since launching in 2010, we’ve been building a comprehensive suite of HR functionality that equips the small to medium-sized enterprise with everything needed to build an effective and efficient HR operation.

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