How do you deal with employees who are repeat offenders of persistent lateness, what policies and procedures you need in place to deal with such incidences?

Although staff who are clocking on one or two minutes late in the morning are not causing your company huge detriment, promptness and reliability are important in an employment relationship and employees are often subject to disciplinary proceedings because of their tardiness.

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.

It is important that you stick to what the contract says with regard to the length of time that warnings will stay live for. If you leave the warning on file for longer than the contract stipulates, you could be found to have acted unfairly if you then later build on that warning to eventually sanction the employee’s dismissal. Similarly, expired warnings must generally be disregarded completely. Whilst in limited circumstances an expired warning can be relied upon to sanction the next highest level of disciplinary action, this is very rare, should not be taken as the norm and depends on the facts of the particular circumstance.

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. Hronline offers a full absence and lateness management system where you can key in how late the employee is and the information will show against the particular employee. Accurate records will provide sound evidence for disciplinary action.

By Nicola Mullineux

hronline can help you deal with persistent lateness – contact 0844 892 2492 for a free 30 day trial.