our everyday life

How to Stop Being Fired for Being Late

by Lisa McQuerrey, studioD

Being habitually late is an unprofessional practice that employers will not likely tolerate for any length of time. Tardiness for work inconveniences your colleagues, has a negative impact on customers and establishes you as an unreliable colleague. Read your employment contract to determine how seriously your boss takes ongoing lateness so you can prevent the potential for termination.

Stop Making Excuses

An occasional tardy appearance can be easily explained away or overlooked. Repeated violations with poor excuses make you look like someone with bad time management skills that is oblivious to how his actions negatively impact others. Stop making excuses or blaming other people for why you're late. Instead, do something about it. If your carpool is slow or it takes you a long time to get your kids around for school in the morning, back up your schedule and make changes so you're better positioned to meet your work obligations.


Apologize to the people you inconvenience with your lateness. Habitual apologizing for ongoing lateness will eventually ring hollow, so be sincere in your language when you inconvenience someone else and be contrite for your actions. If your lateness reaches a firing stage, it's probably because your colleagues got tired of your behavior, felt unappreciated and informed the boss about your poor work habits.

Make it Good

When you're late, make it up. If you arrive 30 minutes late, stay an hour late. If you make a colleague miss an appointment because she had to cover for you, take the blame with your boss. Even though making up for your deficiencies doesn't excuse your continual tardiness, it will at least endear you to your colleagues and your boss as well as demonstrate your regret for your actions.

Learn to Manage Time

Figure out how to better manage your time so you aren’t always running behind schedule. Organize yourself the night before. Select your clothing, set aside work items to take into the office and review your schedule to familiarize yourself with the day’s agenda. Use alarms on your smartphone to notify you when necessary, and always build in time to cover unexpected delays.

Reassure Your Boss

Once you get your act together and consistently arrive to work on time, reassure your boss you've turned over a new leaf. Make a private appointment to sit down and chat about what is surely an ongoing discussion between you and your supervisor. Explain the ways in which you’re better allocating your time and outline the steps you're taking to ensure your tardiness becomes a thing of the past. This approach should keep you from getting fired for lateness, provided you make good on your promises.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.