HOSPITALITY | Persistent Lateness

Do you have a member of the team who is routinely late for work?

Persistent lateness not only impacts upon your ability to serve your customers but also drains the morale of your team.

What kind of excuses do you hear for it? “The bus didn’t turn up!” “The train was delayed.”  “Rush hour traffic was crazy this morning.” “There was a queue to drop off my kids at school.” “I had to take my dog to the vets.” “My alarm clock broke!”

These are sort of excuses are all too common–. According to a Heathrow Express survey, staff lateness costs the UK economy an estimated of £9 billion per year.

The one-off occasion can be brushed aside, but repeated instances of lateness need to be dealt with.

£ 0
Cost of staff lateness to UK economy

What can you do about persistent lateness?

If you notice that an employee is arriving late, you need to address the issue. Normally, an informal approach will be the best way to do this. If you have a quick word with them, they will see that:

  • You have noticed
  • You are monitoring their attendance and
  • You are willing to act.

This should act as a deterrent and nip the issue in the bud.

HR policies

The Formal Route

If that informal approach doesn’t work, you may need to go down the formal route. You should make it clear in your Employee Handbook that persistent lateness without a proper explanation will normally be treated as misconduct and it is likely that it will result in disciplinary action.  When thinking about disciplinary action, you will also need to consider the reasons for the lateness (e.g. is it because they are just a bit lazy or is it because they have a medical condition which makes it difficult for them to get to work on time?) as this will determine what action to take.

Remind staff that it is their responsibility to make sure they are ready to work at their scheduled time. If they rely on public transport, they should allow adequate time, including delays, to make the journey and arrive on time. If they drive to work, they should make allowances for the level of traffic or rush hour congestion to make sure they are not late.

If staff arrive late, they should contact their line manager as soon as they can to inform them. Ideally you should get them to call, rather than send a text or email. Make sure you get appropriate advice.

Other Options

Personal or domestic circumstances may make it difficult for an employee to get to work on their scheduled start time. An employee who has a minimum of 26 weeks of continuous service with their employer and has not made a request in the last 12 months may make a flexible working request. This may involve them asking to start work a bit later each day. Employers must consider the request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for a clear business reason (e.g. an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff).

If you are facing a challenge like this in your hospitality business, contact your Employment Law Expert for tailored and comprehensive guidance.

Director of Legal Services

James Tamm

Whether you’re facing an immediate challenge or just want the reassurance of an expert second opinion, we’re here to offer clear, commercial advice so that you can focus on what you do best.

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