How should an employer deal with an employee's poor timekeeping?

Where an employee is late for work on one occasion without good reason, unless there are consequences for the employer (for example, a deadline is missed or a client relationship is damaged), it may choose to overlook the incident or give the employee an informal warning.

An informal warning will usually be sufficient to address poor timekeeping. However, if an employee's late arrival for work becomes a regular occurrence, the employer should investigate the reason behind it. If it is related to a personal problem at home, where appropriate, the employer should discuss with the employee whether or not it can take any steps to support him or her, making clear that the employee must improve his or her timekeeping.

The employer should bear in mind that, if the employee's poor timekeeping is related to a disability, there may be reasonable adjustments that it should make, such as allowing the employee to work flexible hours if he or she has a condition that sometimes causes drowsiness.

In cases where an informal approach does not resolve the problem, it will be appropriate for the employer to instigate the disciplinary procedure. If the problem persists following formal warnings, it may be appropriate for the employer to dismiss the employee.

Employers should deal with persistent lateness by employees consistently, to help to avoid allegations of unfair or discriminatory treatment.