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Can You Be Fired For Being Late? (Fully Explained)

Arriving late to work once in a while happens to everyone. You may experience traffic, face accidents, wake up late, or have family issues. Turning up late at work occasionally is usual while, making it a regular habit is not. If you are a job holder, you may have wondered whether your late arrival has any implications. Let me tell you, it does!

When you are showing up late to work consistently, you are putting your job at risk. Every office has its own rules on attendance policy and punctuality. By coming late to work continuously, you are disobeying the terms. This is definitely reflecting on your attitude towards work. And yes! You are risking your position at the office. 

In this article, I will discuss in detail whether or not can you be fired for being late? I will try to focus on all possible scenarios, terms, facts and implications. Hopefully, by the end, you will get your answers regarding the problem. 

When Can You be Fired for Being Late for Work? 

While there could be myriads of reasons, I think these are some major points on why you could be fired from your job because of tardiness.  

Making it a regular habit: As mentioned earlier, at times you can be pardoned for being late, but not if you are doing this frequently. Showing up late at work once or twice or even thrice in a month is okay, but more than that would be a strike. 

Being ignorant about the issue: If you arrive late, the first thing you should do is to inform your boss. If you are reluctant to do so, it may look like you are indifferent to your work. 

Also, if a dependent co-worker needs to know that you are running late, then make sure you contact them too. Your absence could stress them as well. 

Lying or making up a story: While being honest is the best thing to do, sometimes it may not seem like a good idea. Nevertheless, lying blatantly or oversharing could be harmful. Instead, making a good excuse may suffice.

Remember employers tend to do a follow-up with employees occasionally to see if they are being completely honest.

What is the Acceptable Time Limit for Being Late at Work? 

This depends on the company you work for. Companies have their policies on attendance and punctuality. Nonetheless, they are more or less the same. Companies may track the number of times you arrived late at work.

Some offices may cut a small percentage from your total wage as a repercussion for being late for more than 3 days, while some may send you a verbal or written warning. However, if you continue to break rules by arriving late, you may end up getting fired. 

Being 1 minute late may not be deemed inappropriate. This may not even fall in the category of tardiness policy. However, this does not mean that you would arrive at the office 1 minute late on a regular basis. Arriving early would put a positive impression on you as an employee as well as let you settle for the day and for your work with ease. 

Being about 5 minutes late to work could be considered unexpectable. Though it may sound like a mere 5 minutes, for a firm with hundreds of staff members, these 5 minutes could be crucial. 

You may turn up in a meeting 5 minutes late and interrupt others. Your 5 minutes late arrival could put a negative impression on a client who has been waiting for you to start a presentation.

Again, you may put your colleagues working with you in a joint venture, under pressure. In worst cases, your company could lose a project deal or a massive amount of money. 

It mainly depends on where you work and the sort of work you do really. Also, your relationship with your boss could also impact how your tardiness will affect your job. So, giving a concrete answer to this question is kind of difficult.

Possible Impacts of Tardiness or Late Arrival

You may be wondering what could be some possible repercussions of frequent tardiness. Even though situations may vary between companies, I think these could be some common scenarios, overall. 

Firstly, for habitual tardiness or 3 to more late arrival, you can get a written or verbal notice from your office. This may not happen if you show up late at work once in a while.

Secondly, your late arrival could put your boss and co-workers under pressure. For instance, the co-workers who are overseeing a project with you may experience stress if you show up late for work. Again, a co-worker who is waiting to finish his shift with your arrival may feel disturbed and annoyed. 

Once again, if you come late to a meeting where you had to present an important idea to a client, your whole office including your boss would be put under a negative impression. With that, your company may lose deals, offers, or a huge amount of profit. 

Finally, apart from giving difficulties to your boss and your co-workers' important works or meetings could get delayed as a result of your tardiness. 

Remember, in the workplace time is precious. Even a 5 minutes late arrival could make your company lose a gigantic deal. It not only is harmful to your position at the office but you are perhaps indirectly putting your company in a shabby position in the market. 

Is it Legal to Get Fired for Being Late at Work? 

Yes, it is legal for you employers to fire you if you are late to work. I mean why wouldn’t it? If companies had to keep employees who show no signs of punctuality then most companies today would be ruined. So, obviously firing an employee who is late is legal.

However, under certain circumstances you might be protected by the law and your employer may not be able to fire you.

Circumstances that Legally Pardon You for Being Late:

According to the legal authority, it is not legal to fire you if you arrive late at the office for medical purposes. The term applies to both you and your family. You will be excused if you can show valid papers from the treatments. 

Once Again, in an earlier statement, I mentioned that family fights could fall under bizarre excuses. Nevertheless, if you require medical attention or police assistance, or an emergency injunction resulting from domestic violence then you are allowed to come late at work and your office can not fire you for your tardiness. 

Moreover, a company has to answer the legal authorities if it fires someone with disabilities or chronic illness. These specific groups of people are allowed to arrive late at work and it is illegal to make them quit their jobs for continuous late arrivals. 

Excuses That Do Not Legally Exempt You from Getting Fired:

Now that we know the circumstances that allow or exempt you from arriving late at the office regularly, let’s find out the scenarios when you won’t be excused for breaking this important office policy. Moreover, the legal authoritative figures would not help you with such cases. 

Some common excuses could be: 

  • Late from a hangover or partying late. 
  • If your vehicle or car to work breaks down. 
  • Late for attending children’s school duties. 
  • Late for attending an appointment.
  • Late for being stuck in a traffic jam. 
  • Late for the bad weather. 

However, this does not mean that you cannot use these reasons on rare occasions. These are not applicable if you show habitual tardiness and get fired. Therefore, these terms would not be valid reasons for you to get assistance from the legal authorities.

I’m sure that properly communicating with your boss and explaining to him why you were late will put you off the hook, even for these excuses. But, it’s when you do it regularly, your boss may think you are just being lazy or unprofessional and fire you.

Strategies You May Follow to Avoid Being Late at Work

For many, it may be difficult to get through this habitual tardiness. Nonetheless, I have compiled some easy suggestions for you to follow and overcome this late arrival habit. By following these tips and practicing them I’m sure you won’t have to face being late anymore. 

  • Planning your schedule could be the best thing to do. Make sure you are aware of the tasks for tomorrow. Do you need to drop your kids at school? Do you have a meeting at your arrival at the office? If you plan to leave early, you may have ample time to put your kids in school and drive to your workplace at the perfect hour.
  • Have your meal prepared for tomorrow and organize important files and papers the night before. This way you do not have to rush and miss out on things.
  • Avoid nightlife on the weekdays. Being hung-over, or not having to sleep properly may not only lead you to arrive late at the office but could make you less productive on that particular day.
  • Do not forget to set an alarm. And never put it on snooze in the morning as you may end up oversleeping.
  • Discuss your schedule with your family. You can help each other in the morning. If your children are still dependent, plan with your husband so that he could help you get through your morning schedule. 
  • Just similar to your office files, make sure your car is okay and filled with gas/oil. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of time filling up gas or oil on your way to work.
  • Before going out, have a look through your phone map. It will tell you which roads are jam-packed and which are easier for you to pass.
  • Leave home early. If you think you can arrive at your office within 15 minutes, try to leave 30 minutes earlier.
  • If you are truly struggling with work-life balance and arriving late at work, contact a counselor who would give you and your family advice to make your life easier and more productive.

The article hopefully answers and clears your ideas on can you be fired for being late? You now know the standard policies, legal acts, regulations, and which circumstances may exempt you from getting fired. 

As you have probably learned that being late can cost you your job. But, it kind of depends on why you were late in the first place. In extreme cases like a medical or a legal scenario, you might be protected by the law and your employer would have no choice but to pardon you.

But whatever you cause might be, being late once or twice should not be an issue. Thanks for reading till the end.

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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