Lateness in the workplace

legal updates

Employers are within their rights to expect all employees to be punctual.

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Employers are within their rights to expect all employees to be punctual, but as we are all aware, there are times when arriving late for work cannot be avoided. However, for those employees with a tendency to be late on a daily or regular basis, action should be taken. 

We would hope an informal discussion with an employee who has arrived late on a couple of occasions would be sufficient to stop any future poor timekeeping. A quick chat might be enough for an employee to realise you are keeping note of his/her repeated behaviour and further action will be taken should his/her tardiness continue. However, if the lateness does not stop or improve, the next step is disciplinary action.

You will need to keep track of the dates the individual is tardy as these will be referred to in any disciplinary meeting. If there is a company lateness policy in place, it needs to be highlighted in the disciplinary process. 

You will also need to check the individual’s employment contract which should refer to the company’s disciplinary procedure. The procedure itself is likely to be similar, if not the same, as set out by ACAS (

The employee will be given the opportunity to provide an explanation for the continued lateness and any mitigating reasons supplied are to be taken into consideration. If there are no mitigating circumstances provided, then a warning needs to be given. Remember, warnings can only be prescribed for a certain period of time. 

Further warnings, escalating in gravity, would be issued to the employee for his/her persistent lateness, which can and may result in dismissal. 
HR Manager can assist with recording your employees’ lateness. As well as providing you with a handy record to reference, you will have an overview of your employees’ timekeeping history and any disciplinary action taken. Furthermore, HR Manager includes the template documents required for all levels of a disciplinary procedure. 

HR Manager is included within Small Business and Professional membership packages, just call 01480 455500 or email [email protected] and ask for your account to be activated.

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