Promptness and reliability are important in an employment relationship. Two minutes missed here and there do not seem like much on first glance but can mount up to a significant amount of time. You wouldn’t let employees get away with leaving work 2 minutes early, so you shouldn’t allow it at the other end of the working day.

It would first be important for the employer to determine the employee’s length of service when dealing with lateness. If the employee had attained the required period of employment to be protected by unfair dismissal legislation, a thorough procedure would be required. If, on the other hand, the employee had been with you for a short period of time and was not protected, dismissal would be an early option and could be managed quite quickly.

If you have a repeat offender in respect of whom you have not yet started any kind of formal procedure, you will need to address him as if he had only just started being late – any instances of misconduct in the past should not be relied upon if you were aware of them but did not address them at the time.

You should first speak to the employee to try and ascertain what the reasons for the lateness may be. This can take the form of an informal chat and dependent on his responses, you may decide that disciplinary action is warranted. A series of warnings would need to be issued, escalating in gravity with each further instance and eventually the employee should be warned that any further lateness may result in his dismissal. If the employee continues to be late, dismissal will be the ultimate sanction.

Warnings should only remain on an employee’s file for a prescribed amount of time and generally, only when further instances of misconduct appear within the shelf life should the warning be built upon. There are no guidelines in law to dictate how long a warning should remain on an employee’s file. It is an employee’s contract of employment that will dictate how long this should be, so you should look to the contract for an indication of how long to wait before the warning should be disregarded.

Keeping accurate records of lateness in a central location makes it easy for an employer to have an at a glance view of the employee’s conduct. Accurate records will provide sound evidence for disciplinary action.

Again for further information and advice contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.