Skip to content

7 Employer Tips For Handling Tardy Workers

Table of Contents

When an employee is late, it’s essential to consider that they may have some issues at home or on the way. Proper team communication can help you connect with your people, but this becomes a big issue when you have a consistently tardy employee.

Constant tardiness needs to be resolved ASAP, as it can affect your employees’ attitudes and your company culture. At the same time, you don’t want to alienate your team members. Here are seven tips for employers to properly handle tardy workers.

1. Address Tardiness At Its Early Stages

When you notice that your worker arrives late regularly, you want to start to approach them and address the issue. If you see a pattern, call them to your office, talk to them calmly and ask if there’s an issue. 

Often, employees will commit minor (and sometimes major) blunders when they first join a company. Recognizing this and addressing it early on helps you avoid having more significant problems later. If your new hires show up 15 minutes or an hour past their scheduled time, then let them know how you expect punctuality. 

Talking about the situation early is the best way to demonstrate that this behavior isn’t allowed. Employee engagement can help them connect with your management.

2. Set Clear Expectations

It’s vital that you set clear expectations with your team. Let them know your policies about arriving on time and state the consequences if people fail to do so. Setting these boundaries will help your teams understand how they should be coming to work. 

 This shouldn’t be about strict punishments but about setting standards. Set clear penalties if a worker is 5 to 10 mins late. If they are late, they need to call the office if it’s some sort of emergency. If it continues, you need to give them a warning and then a potential suspension.  

On their first day, discuss the rules and regulations of being on time and the consequences with your new employees. Include this information in their contract as legal protection for your business.

3. Maintain Clear Records

You need to keep detailed records about when employees are absent or arrive to work. Maintaining proper records is essential when it comes to maintaining a consistent schedule. If your workers are coming in 10-15mins later than their schedules, that’s a clear sign of a problem. You don’t want to keep track of this on your own.  

Records will help you identify patterns over time. Keep records as part of your professional goals to ensure that you have evidence of employee attendance. 

Use an advanced workforce management system to keep track of arrival and departure timings. You can receive alerts about when employees are on their way and when they arrive. Some businesses use biometric systems to clock in and out, which can be a great way to track attendance. These systems can record when individuals enter and leave the premise.

4. Provide Counsel and Extend Assistance

When one of your key members is frequently tardy, it’s crucial to provide guidance. Rather than criticize them, you can provide your team member with resources and assistance that should alleviate their tardiness.

Coach your workers about time management. Sit down with them and suggest different ways to manage their time and arrive at work on time. Talk to your managers who cover them and let them know that there may be an issue. If absences continue, your senior manager can talk with the employee and develop a solution.   

If the individual is unaware of how they should manage their tasks, you can offer them some guidance and coaching. You can include this as part of their performance review as well.

You can also offer resources to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. This should help cut down potential health-related reasons for tardiness.

5. Respect Employee Privacy

Remember that your people are your most valuable asset. You shouldn’t embarrass them in front of others. Like any other employees, those who are frequently tardy may be facing personal issues. If there’s a pattern of irresponsibility, it’s best to encourage them to share the reason.

While probing for answers, you need to respect their privacy and confidentiality.  Schedule an appointment with them to talk about the problem. If they want to share, make sure you can help them solve any issue that keeps them tardy. If they don’t like to share, respect their privacy.

During the meeting, be calm and considerate. Ask them if they are experiencing any issues at home and if there is anything you can do to help. Give them options if they have any health issues. 

If your initial efforts don’t work, you will need to talk to your supervisor. Give your HR representative some background about the situation so that they can address it. They might give you additional training or assign your colleague to a different department.

6. Set Goals Together  

If your unreachable staff is resistant to change, you might need another talk. In this case, you need to establish some goals and timelines. 


First, meet with the member and find common ground. Explain the issues that come up due to their constant tardiness causes disruption to their work and the team. Discuss how they can improve their situation and help them develop solutions.

Establish a timeline to accomplish these goals. You can ask them to do their best for a week and then check back in with you. If they cannot accomplish their changes, consider formalizing their probation. 

7. Use Formal Disciplinary Processes

If all else fails, you can use formal disciplinary processes. If your people aren’t being responsible even after your continuous efforts to coach them, then it’s time to take action. You will need to outline the process and steps involved. Notify your coworkers of the issue through email, notice boards, or meetings. Provide them with the details and expected timelines. 

Make sure you follow your state’s code of conduct and employment laws. A majority of states require companies to have a formal policy about timeliness and attendance. First, you provide them with a warning letter. 

You can then ask them to improve and work on a turnaround plan. If they fail to meet your goals, you can ultimately terminate their employment. Follow the same disciplinary process for all your employees and document the evidence. 

The Bottom Line

Being an employer, you want to establish a positive work environment where your people can flourish. That’s why, when one person is chronically tardy, it’s essential to fix it. You’ll want to work with them, help them improve, and establish a plan of action.

By following the right disciplinary actions, you can uphold your integrity as a business owner. Consider these tips to help give you a handle on their productivity.