Repetitive lateness may not seem like a big issue, however when you calculate the times an employee has been repeatedly late it can certainly add up. The total time lost to the business can make the issue seem far more substantial. Reliability, and in this case punctuality is an important part of the employment relationship and repetitive lateness can be viewed as a disciplinary issue. So how does an employer deal with the problem?
Remember, the circumstances surrounding lateness may not always be within the employees’ control, for example if their public transport has been delayed or an emergency situation has occurred resulting in road closures.
Employers are still entitled to expect the employee to arrive on time and the first step to address this situation can be an informal discussion with the employee. An informal discussion may be enough to make the employee realise that they can no longer get away with tardiness. It will also make employees aware that you are monitoring the situation and that this discussion is aimed to solve the issue quickly and efficiently. An informal discussion is always the best approach and can help to ensure the issue does not escalate.
If repetitive lateness continues then a formal disciplinary procedure can be carried out. Any contractual process should be followed to ensure that the outcome will be deemed fair in a tribunal. If in doubt contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772, who will advise on the best process to follow.
During a disciplinary hearing, if the employee makes you aware that they have a valid reason for their lateness, for example, they are a home carer or they have a condition, which makes them drowsy when they wake in the morning, resulting in them taking more time to travel to work, you should not ignore this. The reason the employee gives may create a duty to alter their working hours as a reasonable adjustment, or, another solution could be to remind the employee that they have the right to request flexible working, subject to eligibility. Initially, lateness could be seen as a problem the employee has to solve, but it may create obligations for employers too that, if ignored, could result in a claim being brought against the employer.
If no mitigating reasons are put forward by the employee then warnings for the lateness should be issued, starting from a lower level and increasing in seriousness the longer the problem persists. If there is no improvement, and the seriousness of sanctions has increased to an uncontrollable level, then dismissal may be warranted if deemed reasonable under the circumstances. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier I remain hopeful that an informal discussion will help ease the problem and the employee will begin to improve on their levels of punctuality.
For further clarification please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.