More Outrageous Excuses for Being Late to Work

Feb 5 2016 - Discipline - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

LateforWorkSome people have a hard time getting to work on time.

A new survey from CareerBuilder asked employees how often they come in late to work: 1 in 4 workers (25 percent) admitted they do it at least once a month, and 13 percent say it’s a weekly occurrence for them.

The survey also asked employers to share the most “creative” excuses they got from employees who were late to work. As usual, employers heard some doozies.

More than 2,500 hiring and human resource managers (of which, more than 2,300 are in the private sector) and more than 3,200 workers across industries participated in the nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll from November 4 and December 1, 2015.

Most Bizarre Late-to-Work Excuses

Employers shared these outrageous excuses from employees:

  • I thought of quitting today, but then decided not to, so I came in late.
  • My hair caught on fire from my blow dryer.
  • I was detained by Homeland Security.
  • I had to chase my cows back into the field.
  • A black bear entered my carport and decided to take a nap on the hood of my car.
  • My lizard had to have emergency surgery in the morning and died during surgery. I had to mourn while deciding whether to have the lizard disposed of by the vet or bring the lizard corpse with me to work.
  • There was fresh powder on the hill. I had to go skiing.
  • There was a store grand opening and I wanted to get the opening day sales.
  • I had to finish watching “My Name is Earl.”
  • All of my clothes were stolen.
  • I was confused by the time change and unsure if it was “spring forward” or “fall back.”
  • A Vaseline truck overturned on the highway and cars were slipping left and right.

Expectations and Discipline

More than half of employers (51 percent) who participated in the survey said they expect employees to be on time every day, and 4 in 10 employers (41 percent) said they fired someone for being late.

Other employers were more lenient. One third of employers (33 percent) say they’re not concerned with an employee occasionally being late, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern. Sixteen percent of employers said they don’t need employees to be punctual as long as they get their work done.

On the other side, 62 percent of workers who arrive late said they stay later to make up for it.

Along with bizarre excuses, employees also gave run-of-the-mill reasons for being late to work: traffic (53 percent), oversleeping (33 percent), bad weather (28 percent), lack of sleep (23 percent) and needing to get kids to daycare or school (15 percent).

Shane Peterson, Senior Editor

Absenteeism and tardiness are among the most frequent and difficult employee behaviors to discipline. CalChamber members can get more details on dealing with these issues from the HR Library’s Absenteeism and Tardiness page on HRCalifornia. Not a member? Learn about the benefits of membership.

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