When lateness strikes…

04 September 2017

Everyone’s late from time-to-time – it’s inevitable and unavoidable. But while the odd lateness might not be a biggie for your business, repeated instances can soon become a real bugbear.

With kids going back to school, morning commutes will likely take a hit, and for many this could mean a late appearance to work.

Of course, back to school traffic isn’t the only driver. Alarm clock failures, roadworks, missed trains and late buses all play their part all year round too. But how do you crack down on them? Let’s take a look…

How much is too much?

There isn’t a blanket answer for this – what constitutes too much will vary from business to business. The key is whether it’s consistent.

For example, if an employee’s 15 minutes late on one occasion, it wouldn’t be reasonable to take action. However, if they start showing up 15 minutes late every other week, it may be appropriate – we’ll touch on this later, but you should always find out why an employee’s late first.

It’s also essential that you’re consistent with your approach. You should refrain from favouring  employees, and letting some get away with more than others.

How to lose lateness

If you’ve employees who’re regularly turning up to work late, in the first instance, we’d recommend trying to resolve the issue informally.

When talking to the employee, make sure you’re fair and reasonable, and try to understand the cause behind their persistent lateness. If flexible working could help eliminate the underlying cause, consider proposing it as an option to the employee – and remember, all eligible employees have a legal right to make a flexible working request.

If you’ve made an effort to resolve the issue informally and the employee still shows no signs of improvement, you may need to go down the route of disciplinary action. If you go down this road, make sure you follow a fair procedure at all times.

In cases where an employee’s late due to genuine illness – and especially if it’s pregnancy related – you shouldn’t take disciplinary action.

Finally, if the employee still doesn’t improve their lateness record after repeated disciplinary action, ultimately you’d be within your rights to dismiss them – with notice, but always seek advice before doing this.

Follow through

Remember, it’s not one rule for one employee, and another rule for another. Make sure you treat lateness fairly and consistently throughout your business.

By taking lateness seriously, you’ll send out a signal that it’s not something that’s tolerated in your business. The end result? Fewer employees thinking they can get away with it.

The impact to your business

Cost: time racked up clocking in late can soon add up. For example, let’s say you’ve an employee who’s 10 minutes late once a week. Over the course of a year, the employee will have accumulated 8.6 hours’ worth of lateness – the equivalent of a whole working day!

Productivity: if the employee’s not there, the job won’t do itself. This could become particularly problematic for care businesses where a set ratio of staff is required at all times, or customer-facing businesses where fewer employees could result in a drop in service, for example.

Morale: persistent lateness could have a negative impact on the wider team’s morale. For example, colleagues may become disgruntled and irritated if members of the team are continually working shorter shifts, and contributing less in terms of output.

How we can help

Here at Citation, our HR & Employment Law experts can help you with anything from persistent lateness and flexible working requests, to disciplinaries and dismissal procedures. For more information, get in touch or give us a call on 0345 844 1111.

Better yet, our online management platform – Atlas – helps you monitor and manage lateness by tracking the reasons given – i.e. family, traffic, illness, etc., and providing you with an overall attendance rating for each employee.

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