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Most Common Excuses Employees Give For Being Late

The level of importance we attach to time is different for all of us. For many people, time is an unnatural constraint society has imposed upon us. To others, time is the very fabric into which our world is sewn. But unless you’re a vagabond, you don’t really have a choice but to live by it to some degree.

The store opens up at 8am sharp, with a trickle of customers ambling in the minute the lock unlatches. The presenter begins the meeting at 10 whether all the seats are filled or not. You kid’s piano lesson starts at 5 and if you’re late it’s cut short. Stores close at 6 as clerks run off to their families. Your favorite show is on at 7 and it’s not going to wait for you to go to the bathroom. The alarm rings at 6am. Time is truly woven into every aspect of our lives. If time is not your forte, you lose.

Business owners can be very picky about schedules since the success of their business depends on the work that gets completed in a day. In a study conducted by, “35 percent of employers have fired an employee for tardiness.” Clearly, tardiness is no joke to millions of small business owners in the US.

How Often Are Employees Late?

The study, which interviewed 3,008 workers and 2,201 hiring managers, found that 23% of employees admit to being late for work at least once a month and 15 percent admitted to arriving late at least once a week. This is interesting because the study also found that almost 50% of employers expect their employees to be on time everyday. It is clear that many of these workers are at odds with their employers. Furthermore, the report concluded that:

  • “Thirty-four percent say they allow employees to be late every once in a while, as long as tardiness doesn’t become a pattern”
  • “18 percent don’t care how their employees manage their time, just that they get their work done well”

Most Common Reasons Employees Say They Are Late

Things come up occasionally for any of us. Even the most punctual of us runs into unexpected road blocks from time to time. It’s inevitable. But for those that just don’t give much thought to time, showing up to work on time can be tough. According to the study, these are the most common reasons employees give their employers:

  1. Traffic – 39%
  2. Lack of sleep – 19%
  3. Problems with public transportation – 8%
  4. Bad weather – 7%
  5. Dropping the kids off at daycare or school – 6%

Now, either employees just make the same mistakes over and over again or these are just the most common stories they tell. Not all employees, however, give the same run-of-the-mill excuses. Some people have some pretty interesting stories to tell while others just have some pretty bad luck!

12 Most Memorable Excuses Employees Actually Used When Running Late

  1. Employee claimed a zebra was running down the highway and held up traffic (turned out to be true)
  2. Employee woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from his home (hmm, hungover?)
  3. Employee’s cat got stuck in the toilet (I thought water was the plague to cats)
  4. Employee couldn’t eat breakfast – he ran out of milk for cereal and had to buy some before getting ready for work (a person’s got to eat!)
  5. Employee was late to work because he fell asleep in the car when he got to work (staying up late the night before could have been avoided?)
  6. Employee accidentally put superglue in her eye instead of contact lens solution, and had to go to the emergency room (how did she get super glue in her contact lens case?)
  7. Employee thought Halloween was a work holiday (I can see that)
  8. Employee said a hole in the roof caused rain to fall on the alarm clock and it didn’t go off (what are the chances?!)
  9. Employee was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end (can you blame him?)
  10. Employee forgot that the company had changed location (whoa!)
  11. Employee got a hairbrush stuck in her hair (I think I did that when I was 9)
  12. Employee was scared by a nightmare (all the more reason to get out of bed!)

Chime In!

Have you heard or given any interesting excuses? I would love to hear more!

One Response

  1. Somebody’s horse was in the middle of the road and would not move when I hollered at him. I took a picture and sent to my supervisor. So happen my neighbor was taking out trash and he hollered & the horse moved out of the way.

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