How To Discipline An Employee For Tardiness


Within this article I hope to explain how to discipline an employee for tardiness. Tardiness is one of those employee behaviors that can drive a supervisor almost crazy for many reasons. But one main reason is that they can’t completely initiate their daily plan until they know how is present and who is absent. When an employee shows up late the supervisor must adjust their staffing assignments to compensate. The whole experience is just so frustrating and should not be tolerated.

So here is an example of how to discipline an employee for tardiness. If you’re not using our electronic employee discipline notice form you could type up a written warning notice that reads something like this:

Discipline Form Large 1

Sample Warning Letter

July 23, 2013

Mr. Paul Bunyon:

You are receiving this written warning notice for excessive tardiness, which is a violation of our employment policy on attendance.

Specifically, you were seven (7) minutes tardy on June 4, 2013, twelve (12) minutes tardy on June 27, 2013, and twenty two (22) minutes tardy on July 21, 2013. Although you did call your supervisor on July 21, 2013, just prior to your scheduled start time they did not authorize you permission to be late. The work schedule is posted one week in advance on the employee bulletin board located in the break room.

It is very important that you report to work on time and ready to begin work on or before your scheduled start time. In the event you violate this policy, or any other policy of our company, you may be subject to additional disciplinary action.

Robert E. Lee


How to Discipline an Employee for Tardiness: First Let's Define Tardiness

Before we begin with a sample disciplinary action for tardiness let’s define what tardiness is. Of course you can define tardiness anyway you like, I would recommend that you define it this way in your employee handbook:

Sample Attendance Policy

Good attendance is a vital part of your employment here at XYZ Company; therefore, you are expected to be present and ready to work on or shortly before your scheduled shift begins. If you are not present or ready to work at your scheduled start time without prior permission from your supervisor you are considered to be tardy. Simply informing your supervisor that you will be late does not constitute permission. Any employee who is tardy more than three times in any six month rolling calendar period of time will be subject to disciplinary action.


Another important point to make is that you must always be fair and consistent when applying disciplinary action. There are several consequences to not being fair and consistent when issuing a written warning notice, but let’s only discuss two of them. 

Number one is that all employees are watching even when you don’t think so. So if you are overlooking a good performing employees tardiness, but issuing a written warning notice immediately for that average employee you will begin having even more problems with productivity and turnover.

The second and equally important reason you’ll want to be fair and consistent is to avoid a possible discrimination law suit. If you have someone that falls into a protected employment class (race, religion, sex, age, national origin, etc.) as defined by Title VII and you are unfairly applying employee discipline to them and not to all others then you may be setting yourself up for trouble.

An employees attendance shows how they feel about their job, their co-workers, and their supervisor. There are many reasons for an employee being tardy or incurring an unscheduled absent period. Some feel they are so important to the operations that nothing will happen to them. Some have other issues going on.

Whatever their reasons are it is important to question them to see if you can discover what those reasons are. As an example, you may discover that their day care provider will not receive their children until a certain time. This doesn't mean that it is justified for being late, but it does mean you either need to change their schedule or encourage them to find another day care provider which could be a battle you don't want to get in to. 

The bottom line is you have an business to manage and there are many moving parts, including caring for the well being of your employees. That means all the employees and not just one. Therefore, if someone continues to violate your attendance policy, it's on the employee and not you. They could have always came to you before having the attendance issue and tried to find a solution. 

I hope this information has been helpful. Just a reminder that our electronic employee discipline notice is very helpful understanding how to discipline an employee.

Thank you and May God bless you!

Thank you for reviewing this information on How To Discipline An Employee For Tardiness”.

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