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Common Excuses for being Late for Work

Updated on October 16, 2015

"Frustrated Businessman" by David Castillo Dominici


Common excuses for being late at work

People give many excuses for being late for work. Some are valid and some are not. Every worker is occasionally late for work because of sudden emergency or due to extreme weather conditions for example. However, some people constantly turn up to the workplace late. Career builder says that 21 per cent of employers, in the United Kingdom, have fired a worker for persistent lateness

So what excuses are the most common?

According to Jeeves, the most common excuse given for late arrival at work is traffic congestion. It is perfectly ok to give this excuse once or, at a pinch, twice. An accident or an unusual load can hold up traffic on occasion. However, those giving that excuse constantly are either fibbing or they are not leaving sufficient time for their journey.

Car trouble is another common excuse people give for being late at work. A car can suddenly go wrong and everyone understands that fact. However, your boss may ask you whether you have now solved the problem and for evidence that it is now repaired. Most car problems such as a bald tyre or a dead battery are usually associated with bad maintenance.

Misplacing the car keys is another excuse given by tardy workers. It is something that can happen to anyone once, however, a boss may wonder at someone who constantly misplaces their car keys and consider a) whether the worker could have done something to ensure that s/he cannot misplace the car keys, such as putting them on a hook, or inside a key cabinet. And b) whether a worker, who is so disorganized as to constantly lose his/her car keys, is an asset or a liability to the company.

More Excuses

A crying baby or a sick child keeping a parent awake, may elicit the boss’s sympathy, especially if s/he is a parent. However, this excuse may only be used sparingly.

Problems with Public transport can also make someone late, but only occasionally. If someone constantly gives Public Transport difficulties as an excuse for lateness, perhaps they need to catch an earlier bus or train.

The most common excuse used to be that the alarm clock did not sound or that the worker did not hear it. The common remedy in the pre-digital age was to place the alarm clock in a saucepan. Alarm clocks have, largely, been superseded by mobile telephones, which have an alarm function. This can happen, but again, if someone keeps using this excuse for lateness to work, the boss may wonder why they have not tried to stop the situation. Perhaps by going to bed earlier, or booking a telephone alarm call, either through their telephone company or, informally, by getting a friend or relative to telephone them at the appropriate time, thus allowing the worker to get up and get to work punctually.

Most of the common excuses can happen occasionally but not several times in a week. Employers are human and know that everyone, however diligent, can be late for work occasionally, but they also know when workers are making excuses for persistent tardiness. If you are often late perhaps it is time that you took steps to overcome this fault, before you attract the wrong kind of attention from your employer.


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  • ARUN KANTI profile image


    Thank your for the interesting hub nicely presented. It reminds me of my own hub TIME MATTERS ;

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Some strange excuses for being late and so true. A well informed hub on this topic. People who are often late to work should stay home.