A Minute Late Is Like An Hour Late

Peninsula Team

June 18 2010

Timekeeping is always a difficult subject. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where everyone is clockwatching. Furthermore, you want to allow a certain amount of flexibility because sometimes people can be late through no fault of their own. However, at the same time you want people to be punctual.

The key for dealing with lateness is consistency. All employees need to know where they stand and what is expected of them. It is important to remind all employees that punctuality is expected and persistent problems will be dealt with appropriately. Set out that their start time is the latest time at which they must be ready to start work and not the time that they should be aiming to arrive.

You need to start by monitoring the situation to see if there is an issue. Decide for yourself what level of lateness, if any, you can tolerate as a business. Sometimes this will depend upon the nature of the job and the level of flexibility over the working time an individual can have. Punctuality is more significant for employees in customer related roles, particularly where they have to be available to take calls or have pre-booked appointments.

If you have an employee who is persistently late then you need to discuss with them their obligations as an employee and try and find out if there is any particular reason why they are regularly late. Advise them regarding their timekeeping, suggest changing their route or leaving their house earlier so that they can arrive on time.

Make sure that everyone is aware of the rules on timekeeping. If someone is going to be late then they should contact you and let you know. They should then also explain the reason for their lateness when they come in. This will help you to demonstrate the affect their punctuality is having on the business.

Set out a clear policy in respect of making up time when an employee is late. Decide whether or not you are prepared to let people make the time up over lunch or if you want to insist that they make up the time at the end of their working day.

You need to consider the threshold at which you will decide that lateness is persistent. If they cross this threshold then you need to follow your disciplinary procedure in respect of persistent lateness.

If following a disciplinary hearing, you don’t accept their explanation then issue a formal warning. Set out the standards that you expect from them, making it clear that you will be monitoring the situation and if it continues then they will be facing another disciplinary and could ultimately end up being dismissed.

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