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“Sorry! Late again.” 5 steps for managing late employees

Can’t help but notice that some of your staff are ALWAYS late?
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“Sorry! Late again.” 5 steps for managing late employees

“Sorry! Late again.” 5 steps for managing late employees

1 July 2016

Can’t help but notice that some of your staff are ALWAYS late? You and many other employers in this country… Here, we give you the low-down on your obligations and 5 ways to manage the issue with minimum fall-out (and within the bounds of the law).

As an employer, chronic lateness can be intensely frustrating when it interferes with the running of your business. Plus, you can feel like your own good nature is being taken advantage of. Not to mention that it’s tricky to bring up without sounding like a tyrant or pedantic clock-watcher.

On the one hand, maybe you’re not entirely certain what your rights or your employees’ rights are, and naturally you don’t want to jeopardise the relationship. And what if tardiness is impacting other workers by creating a late-to-work culture that is acceptable?

But does lateness warrant a formal warning? Or should you issue a verbal warning? Is lateness a part of performance evaluation? Here are 5 ways to help you comfortably manage the uncomfortable: 

  1. Wait until it happens 5 times. ‘Pick your battles’ is good advice here. Before you go in guns blazing, wait until you’ve established that it is indeed a pattern and not just them having a bad week.

  2. Get to the bottom of ‘why’. Take them aside and gently ask if anything is wrong and what can you do anything to help. They might be going through something horrendous that you know nothing about. 

  3. Explain that it’s no victimless crime. If No.1 doesn’t shed some light, let them know in clear, unemotional, non-judgmental language that lateness has a detrimental effect on the business and sets a negative example for junior staff. Clarify cause and effect, explaining exactly how their lateness has a direct impact and make sure they understand where you’re coming from.

  4. Ask for a heads-up. Wrap up the conversation by asking the employee to please let you know if they are going to run late in future to help you manage expectations and any knock-on effects.

  5. Wait three more times. If they keep doing it again and again and AGAIN without a word, it’s formal warning time. Issue one knowing you’ve followed correct procedure and don’t you dare feel guilty.

Do you know if your workplace relations practices are compliant and above board? The Fair Work Ombudsman have been hitting the pavement and door knocking small businesses to audit workplace practices like timesheets, payslips, workplace agreements and contracts are legally compliant.  Workplace Assured customers can access unlimited advice from the Workplace Advice Line 24/7/365.

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