Survey reveals creative excuses for employee tardiness

02/20/2014 8:31 AM

02/20/2014 8:31 AM

My cat got stuck in the toilet. My hairbrush got stuck in my hair. Traffic got stuck when a zebra ran down the highway.

These and other excuses stuck in employers’ minds among the most unusual reasons why employees said they were late to work.

A CareerBuilder report, based on a survey of more than 2,200 hiring managers and more than 3,000 full-time employees, found that one-fourth of workers admitted to being tardy at least once a month and about one in seven admitted being late at least once a week.

The national survey, a Harris Poll in November and early December, also found a fair amount of lenience among employers. Only one-third of employers said they had fired a worker for tardiness.

One-third said being late is OK “every once in a while.” And 18 percent said they didn’t watch the clock — what mattered was that the employees got their work done well.

The CareerBuilder report shared some of the most memorable tardiness excuses. The zebra tie-up actually was true. Others may have happened too, but we have to take the admissions at face value. Among them, employees said they:

• Fell asleep in the car after getting to work.

• Went to the emergency room after accidentally putting glue instead of contact lens solution in an eye.

• Thought Halloween was a work holiday.

• Overslept because a hole in the roof let rain fall on the alarm clock and it didn’t ring.

• Forgot that the company had changed its location.

The survey showed that traffic snarls were the most common reason employees said they were late (39 percent). Other common excuses were lack of sleep (19 percent), problems with public transportation (8 percent), bad weather (7 percent) and dropping the kids off at day care or school (6 percent).


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