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What to do when an employee is constantly late for work


Dealing with an employee who is always late for work is a common problem for employers. So can the employer take steps to stop this and can it be done legally? 

Yes you can, if the employer follows these steps.

  1. If an employee is constantly turning up late to work without a reasonable excuse, then ask them is there anything preventing them from attending work at the rostered starting time.
  2. If not reasonable excuse is provided, the employer may consider implementing a workplace policy that will state if an employee is running late they will be required to phone their manager / supervisor their estimated arrival time. The employer should continue to monitor the situation once the policy has been implemented.
  3. If the emplyee continues to be late after implementing these steps, the employer can consider providing the employee with a formal warning, detailing the number of days the employee has been late to work and how this is impacting on the business in a negative way.
  4. The warning needs to refer to the employee's working hours obligations under their contract of employment and the organisation policy. The warning can outline that the organisation considers the times the employee is regularly late for work is to be misconduct and that the employee's attendance at work will be monitored over a reasonable period of time ( this could be for up to 4 weeks). 

The warning should also state that if they do not improve that the employer will take further disciplinary action including termination of employment.

After the monitoring period the employer needs to review the situation again. If the employee has not improved the employer may take further disciplinary action which may include termination of their employment.


Most importantly remember to minimise the risk of unfair dismissal claims in these circumstances, the employer must put the relevant allegations to the employee at a meeting where they have had the opportunity to bring a support person and consider their response to the allegations. Ony then the employer should make a decision on terminating the employee.

Before taking any of these steps contact one of our Employment Relations Advisors to assist you through the steps and ensure you are following due process on 1300 007 110.

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