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Most memorable excuses from tardy employees

  • 26% of workers admit to being late to work once a month
  • Hiring managers share the most memorable excuses they've ever heard from tardy employees
Most memorable excuses from tardy employees

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Have you ever had to explain to your boss why you were late? It's safe assume most people have, and they often blame things like traffic and bus delays.

But according to a new CareerBuilder survey, some excuses aren't quite so tame. The career services firm worked with Harris Interactive to survey hiring managers and workers nationwide about tardiness habits in the workplace.

Apparently, a lot of people are late for work, all the time. More than a quarter (26%) of U.S. workers admit to being tardy at least once a month, while 16% say they’re late once a week or more.

“Employers understand that every now and again circumstances will arise that are out of a worker’s control and unfortunately cause a late arrival to work,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, in a statement. “It escalates to a problem when the behavior becomes repetitive, causing employers to take disciplinary action.”

If you’re showing up late a lot, it may be time for a new alarm clock or a new commute route, because whether or not you know it, your boss has probably noticed. Haefner says tardiness can have some serious consequences. “More than one-third of hiring managers reported they had to fire someone for being late,” Haefner said in a statement.

So why are people showing up late? The survey found that traffic is the most common cause of tardiness, according to 31% of late workers. Whether or not they actually just woke up late, well, guess we’ll never know. Other reasons workers gave for tardiness include lack of sleep, having to drop the kids at daycare or school, the weather, and delays in public transportation.

So those are the common excuses workers use for their tardiness, but not everyone blames traffic jams or the rain when they're late to the office. CareerBuilder’s survey asked hiring managers to share some of the most memorable (read: outrageous) excuses they’ve ever heard from employees who were explaining their way out of being late to work:

  • Employee said she dropped her purse into a coin-operated newspaper box and couldn’t retrieve it without change (which was in the purse).
  • Employee said he accidentally left the apartment with his roommate’s girlfriend’s shoes on and had to go back to change.
  • Employee said his angry wife had frozen his truck keys in a glass of water in the freezer.
  • Employee said she was late because she was putting a rain coat on her cement duck in her front yard (because rain was expected later that day).
  • Employee said his car wouldn’t start because his car's breathalyzer showed he was intoxicated (and therefore, the car wouldn't start).
  • Employee told his boss that he attempted to cut his own hair before work and the clippers stopped working, so he had to wait until the barber shop opened to fix his hair.
  • Employee was late after his/her car was attacked by a bear (had photographic evidence).
  • Employee said she drove to her previous employer by mistake.
  • Employee claimed to have delivered a stranger’s baby on the side of the highway, which made him, or her, late to work.

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