This Year’s Most Bizarre Excuses for Being Late to Work

January 26th, 2017 Comments off
Retro alarm clock on wooden table

We’ve all been there. That time your alarm mysteriously didn’t go off, you couldn’t find your keys and the train was late. But, there’s another breed of latecomers out there — those who don’t seem the least bit bothered by clocking in late for work.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, when asked how often they come in late to work, more than 1 in 4 workers (29 percent) admitted they do it at least once a month — up from 25 percent last year — and 16 percent say it’s a weekly occurrence for them — up 3 percentage points since last year.

Most of the time when people are late, the excuses are pretty common. But other times, the story gets stranger — which can make it harder to believe. When asked about the most outrageous excuses employees have given them for being late, employers shared the following:

  • I forgot it wasn’t the weekend.
  • I put petroleum jelly in my eyes.
  • I had to watch a soccer game that was being played in Europe.
  • I thought Flag Day was a legal holiday.
  • My pet turtle needed to visit the exotic animal clinic.
  • The wind blew the deck off my house.
  • I overslept because my kids changed all the clocks in the house.
  • I was cornered by a moose.
  • My mother locked me in the closet.
  • The pizza I ordered was late being delivered, and I had to be home to accept/pay for it.
  • The sunrise was so beautiful that I had to stop and take it in.
  • My mother-in-law wouldn’t stop talking.
  • My dad offered to make me a grilled cheese sandwich, and I couldn’t say no.


What Are the Rules?

Some jobs require adherence to a specific schedule in order to maintain quality service levels and precise hours of operation. Other jobs can be successfully performed with very flexible hours. Nearly 2 in 3 employers (64 percent) and employees (64 percent) believe the concept of “working 9 to 5” is an antiquated practice, but more than half of employers (53 percent) expect employees to be on time every day, and 4 in 10 (41 percent) have fired someone for being late.


What Can You Do About It?

While coming in late once in a while may be unavoidable, chronic tardiness must be dealt with professionally and firmly. Here are three steps to make sure the issue is confronted before it gets out of hand:

  1. Call your employee into a one-on-one meeting.
  2. Discuss any factors causing your employee’s tardiness.
  3. Write up a list of escalating consequences for tardiness


Never miss a thing: Get CareerBuilder’s expert recruitment tips in your inbox.

Totally Legit or Nah? The Most WTF Late-to-Work Excuses Heard This Year

January 28th, 2016 Comments off
conceptual image of an alarm clock showing that you are too late

Most managers understand that, sometimes, unforeseen sh*t happens on the way to work – your child woke up sick, the train is delayed, the Starbucks barista got your order wrong, etc. – and you can’t always make it into the office at 8 a.m. sharp. Hey, it happens. (And, really, who can be expected to function that early without a tall, non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte with soy milk – NOT almond milk, which you were very specific about?)

In fact, it happens a lot. According to CareerBuilder’s annual survey on late-to-work excuses, 1 in 4 workers come in late to work at least once a month, and 14 percent do it every week. While the most common culprits for arriving late are traffic, missed alarms, bad weather, lack of sleep or trying to corral the kids, every once in a while, something so epic happens that it seems too improbable to be believed.

Take, for example, these strange-but-are-they-possibly-true? excuses employees actually gave for being late to work, according to the hiring managers surveyed in CareerBuilder’s annual study:

  • “I thought of quitting today, but then decided not to, so I came in late.”
  • “My hair caught on fire from my blow dryer.”
  • “I was detained by Homeland Security.”
  • “I had to chase my cows back into the field.”
  • “A black bear entered my carport and decided to take a nap on the hood of my car.”
  • “My lizard had to have emergency surgery in the morning and died during surgery. I had to mourn while deciding whether to have the lizard disposed of by the vet or bring the lizard corpse with me to work.”
  • “There was fresh powder on the hill. I had to go skiing.”
  • “There was a store grand opening and I wanted to get the opening day sales.”
  • “I had to finish watching “My Name is Earl.’”
  • “All of my clothes were stolen.”
  • “I was confused by the time change and unsure if it was ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back.’”
  • “A Vaseline truck overturned on the highway and cars were slipping left and right.”

As hard to believe as some of these excuses may be, they say truth is stranger than fiction, so who’s to say if these people are making it up? The survey did not reveal whether or not the employees were trying to deceive their managers, but it did shine some light on the reasons employees may feel compelled to lie: Forty-one percent of employers have fired someone for being late.

The majority of managers, however, are pretty forgiving when it comes to tardiness. One third of employers surveyed say they have no problem with the occasional late arrival, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern, and 16 percent say they don’t really care about punctuality at all so long as employees still get their work done. It certainly helps that most late-arriving employees (62 percent) say they will stay later to make up for it.

Tell us: Have you ever caught an employee lying about why they were late? What’s the strangest late-to-work excuse you’ve ever heard? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet @CBforEmployers