Having employees arrive on time to work is vital for all employers and the day-to-day productivity of any business. Of course there will always be valid reasons for lateness on occasion that are out of the employee’s control – such as transport or weather delays – but that does not excuse a consistent failure to arrive on time. This form of habitual lateness is not only unprofessional; it is effectively a breach of agreed terms and conditions as documented in the employment contract and must be addressed by the employer as soon as possible. Time is money, as they say, and absenteeism equates to lower productivity. Employers should always define a clear employee lateness policy that makes employees aware of their responsibility to be punctual.
Be aware of work-life balanceDue to recent changes in legislation, more organisations are now granting their employees the option of flexible working than ever before. In this case, it is even more vital to set a clear policy around punctuality and how it relates to the nature of flexibility available to employees. A common thread here is the idea that any time lost in the morning can be made up by the employee staying later after work. However, this may not be acceptable for some businesses who operate primarily between set hours each day. Make it clear to employees how they should be managing their own time to meet the best interests of the company.
Keep a track recordIf an employer notices an employee starting to arrive consistently late, they should document these occasions in an attendance record. This will provide clear evidence of lateness and also helps the employer to calculate exactly how much time the employee has missed over a specified period. In the event that the issue cannot be resolved informally, these records are vital to support the employer’s decision to take disciplinary action.
Progressive and consistent disciplineWhen an employee’s absence begins to give their employer cause for concern, the first step is to arrange a confidential meeting in order to discuss the issue informally. This will give the employer a clear idea as to whether there is a valid personal reason causing their lateness. It is also important to point out in this initial meeting that all employees are expected to arrive promptly for work, and that the same professional standards apply to everybody. In most cases, the employee will address their behaviour and make a conscious effort to arrive at work on time. However, old habits can be hard to break and it may not be long before the employee falls back into their old pattern of lateness. The employer is completely within their rights to instigate a disciplinary procedure, issue appropriate warnings and, if the problem persists, dismissal.
The law behind punctualityThe Employment Rights Act 1996 documents an employer’s ability to dismiss a member of staff for poor conduct and failure to meet the requirements of their contract.
- It is the responsibility of the employer to provide and remind all staff that they are expected to follow a clear lateness and absenteeism policy.
- If a pattern of consistent lateness or absenteeism emerges, the employer should record each instance and first arrange an informal, confidential meeting with the employee to discuss.
- Should the problem continue over a longer period of time, further disciplinary action may be required.