How to deal with an employee who is always late

  • It’s important for employees to show up to work on time in order to keep your business running smoothly.
  • The Homebase time clock can help reduce employees arriving late by alerting you when they are not clocking in on time
  • With more data tracking who is coming into work and when, you can address the issue sooner rather than later

If my employee is late for work, what should I do?

You as a small business owner rely on entrusting employees to show up for work on time. But unfortunately, team members do come into the workplace late from time to time, whether it’s because of personal issues or poor work ethic.

So it’s important to learn how to deal with an employee who is habitually late, and what disciplinary action to take if this occurs at your business. The first step is to identify why the employee is unable to arrive on time.

Is the issue a pattern, or was the employee late because of an extraneous problem like excessive traffic? Tracking an employee’s arrival times through a digital time clock is a great way to determine exactly how often an employee is not showing up on time during working hours without taking paid time off or paid sick leave.

While some businesses use a biometric time clock to prevent time theft or buddy punching, doing so is not legal in several states. Using a time clock that requires a unique PIN or takes a photo of the person clocking in is a better option.

Homebase’s online time clock keeps track of when an employee clocks in late, and will send you alerts any time this happens. Contrastingly, we’ll also track when a team member clocks in a few minutes early so you can learn who could be costing you time in labor expenses.

Time clock app punching in employee pin

How do you write a warning letter for an employee that is always late?

Learning how to write up an employee for being late isn’t an enjoyable or easy task, but it is a necessary one if you want to keep your business running smoothly.

Before you write a warning letter to an employee for late coming, first make sure you didn’t miss any time-off requests or scheduled PTO. If you have a small business that requires employees to work offsite from time to time, you should also double-check that the team member isn’t actually scheduled to be at another location for the day.

With Homebase, remote employees can clock in from other job sites using the GPS time clock, so it shouldn’t be an issue remembering who is working where, even if you have flexible work schedules that fluctuate.

Once you’ve determined that the employee is in fact late for their shift and did not clock in with whatever time and attendance system you use, pull them aside before resigning to an employee late write-up form. Give them a verbal warning, but also ask them what the issue is and why it keeps happening (if showing up late, even 15 minutes, is a pattern).

Before writing up your warning letter for late employees, hear your team member out and try to resolve the issue without going through the punishment process. However, there might not be a conclusive solution, in which case you may need to send late-coming warning mail to the employee.

In the warning letter, mention the previous verbal warning about the incorrect office timings. Inform the employee that the pattern of lateness is not acceptable at your business and that the team member should take the necessary steps to break this habit. Document a copy of this letter in their personnel file.

Discuss consequences for further lateness, including what a potential salary deduction letter to employee for late-coming that could potentially occur, or that they could be suspended or lose their job if they have too many employee late-arrival forms in their documentation or if you have to issue a final warning letter to the employee for late-coming.

If the employee feels as though they are not showing up late for work, using a time clock system like Homebase will help you show them on your dashboard why you brought it up. Each employee has a profile on Homebase that keeps track of when they are arriving on time, when they are late, and even when they are missing breaks.


“We grew so attached to Homebase that I almost didn’t switch to a better POS system because I was worried about not being able to integrate Homebase. Luckily, we were able to upgrade our POS and keep Homebase - best of both worlds!”

Marko Sotto

Owner at Barzotto

Work from anywhere using timeclock app

What if an employee is clocking out late?

Employees who clock out late for work could be affecting your bottom line by adding more in labor costs. Homebase can easily fix this issue with late clock-out alerts. Any time one of your team members either clocks in or clocks out early or late, you will receive an alert—you won’t find a manual punch time clock that can do that.

Sign up for Homebase today to get started and learn how you can identify late-coming issues among your team faster and more efficiently.