Late to Work


If you have employees who are chronically late to work, what can human resources do to handle a problem like this before it reaches the point where termination enters the picture?

The first thing to do, says human resource specialist Ellen Raim, is find out more about the situation of the employee with the tardiness problem. There are a number of reasons why a person is late to work. Some are protected by law, while others are not, Raim says. So, you first want to meet with the employee and ask him or her about the situation to find out what the problem is.

You want to lay out the circumstances of the problem to the person and find out from the employee why he or she was absent. Raim says you can tell them about the days they were late and that you want to understand what the reasons are so that you can work on them with the employee.

Raim says that often a medical condition will result in tardiness to work. As a human resources specialist, you are probably very familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act, but most employees are not. So, the time that the employee is missing may be protected under the Act, but the employee didn’t know that he or she had to notify someone about it, or didn’t know whom to notify. So, once you learn about the situation, you can set up clear guidelines with the employee in accordance with the Act.

Sometimes, because of the nature of the medical condition, the Americans with Disabilities Act comes into play as well. One example of this that Raim gives is the case of a worker who was often late to work because of a chronic illness. Because of the illness, the worker had to take some powerful medicine in the morning before work. But the medicine made the person nauseous, and he had to lie down until he felt better. So, because he had to take this medication, he would miss the early bus to work and so get to work late. In this case, the employer changed the worker’s schedule so that he could arrive later.

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