“My Dog Ate My Work Schedule” and More Outlandish (But True) Excuses for Being Late to Work

Mar 23 2018 - Discipline - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

Is your dog really to blame for you being late to work?

Is your dog really to blame?

It happens to the best of us: The alarm fails, the traffic is bad, the kids dawdle and we end up late for work. In fact, according to a new Career Builder Survey, one in four workers admit they are late at least once a month, and more than one in 10 are late every week.

Usually, the excuses for clocking in late are pretty predictable: traffic, oversleeping, bad weather, exhaustion or forgetting something. But, for some, the excuses for being late are pretty incredible.

Employers shared the following interesting excuses employees have given for running late to work:

  • My fake eyelashes were stuck together.
  • It’s too cold to work.
  • My coffee was too hot and I couldn’t leave until it cooled off.
  • An astrologer warned me of a car accident on a major highway, so I took all backroads, making me an hour late.
  • My dog ate my work schedule.
  • I was here, but I fell asleep in the parking lot.
  • Although it’s been five years, I forgot I didn’t work at my former company and drove there on accident. 

The West Leads the Rest 

By region, the West leads with highest percentage of late workers — 30 percent of workers from the West are late at least once a month, compared to 26 percent in the Northeast, 25 percent in the South and 23 percent in the Midwest.

Younger workers also tend to be late more often than older workers — 38 percent of employees 18 to 34 are late at least once a month, compared to only 14 percent of those 45 and older.

Watch Out for Protected Time Off

Running behind is generally not okay with the boss. The majority of employers (60 percent) want employees to be on time, every day. And more than two in five have fired someone for being late.

Be aware, however, that some late arrivals may be protected by law under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act or other leave laws. Protected absences or tardiness will not count as a violation of the employer’s attendance policy.

Flexibility Is Prized

Employees may try to stay later to make up for the late arrival: 65 percent of tardy employees try to make up the difference.

Yet, the survey revealed that most employees just really want flexibility with their work day:

  • Sixty-three percent of workers say they believe working 9 to 5 is an antiquated practice.
  • 88 percent think start and end times should be flexible.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Senior Employment Law Counsel 

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 Absenteeism and Tardiness page in the HR Library. Not a member? Learn about the benefits of membership.

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