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1-in-5 employers have fired a worker for being late

photodune-3422570-late-xs (1)If you’re like most workers, you probably do your best to arrive to work on time. Despite your best intentions, you’re bound to get delayed due to some force beyond your control, whether it’s a traffic jam or a rainstorm. Just hope your boss is forgiving.

According to a recent CareerBuilder UK survey, 21 per cent of employers have fired an employee for being late.  That might sound strict, but that number is twice as high in India.  In the survey of nine of the largest economies in the world, the UK is as tolerant of tardiness as France, Russia and China. Here’s how the rest stack up:


  • India – 42 per cent
  • Brazil – 26 per cent
  • France – 22 per cent
  • Russia – 22 per cent
  • UK – 21 per cent
  • China – 20 per cent
  • Germany – 9 per cent
  • Japan – 7 per cent
  • Italy – 6 per cent

Fortunately for workers and employers alike, arriving late isn’t the norm. UK workers were asked how often they arrive late to the office and 63 per cent said never. Only 9 per cent of workers admit to arriving late once a month, the same amount that arrive late one per year. However, 14 per cent of workers are late to work one to four days per week.

“Employers know that alarms don’t always work and cars break down on occasion,” says Scott Helmes, manager director of CareerBuilder UK. “As long as you’re honest and don’t make a habit of being late, your boss will most likely be understanding.”

Why are workers running late?

Most workers are on time until they begin their commutes. Once they’re start their journey to the office, traffic and public transportation are the most common culprits for tardiness.

The top 5 reasons UK workers run late are:

  • Traffic – 33 per cent
  • Public transportation – 22 per cent
  • Bad weather – 18 per cent
  • Lack of sleep – 14 per cent
  • Taking the kids to nursery or school – 6 per cent

Perhaps more interesting is that pets (2 per cent of responses) are more responsible for tardiness than spouses (1 per cent).

The weirdest excuses for being late

We asked employers to share the most outrageous excuses workers have given for coming in late. Here are some of the unforgettable responses they’ve heard:

  • “A seagull collided with the bus.”
  • The employee met a famous actor on the street, so she got her photo taken with him and then asked him to join her for coffee.
  • “My cat ran away with my car keys.”
  • The employee thought it was Saturday—it was actually Friday.
  • “My cat caught fire.”
  • He said a builder had taken way his staircase so he couldn’t get down to the floor.
  • “I was struck by lightning.”
  • My employee said she got lost in the fog.
  • “My wife wallpapered over the bedroom light switch.”
  • “I got my arm trapped in the pan drawer.”

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