The Boss Has Heard Your Excuse for Being Late Before

March 27, 2018

Nobody ever plans on running late, especially when they’re headed for work. But even the most punctual employee can occasionally be tardy thanks to a faulty alarm clock or unexpected traffic. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey of human resource officers and regular staffers found that 25 percent of workers show up late at least once a month. 51 percent of these tardy employees blamed traffic for their delays, followed by oversleeping (31 percent) and bad weather (28 percent).

Along with these common excuses, a few responders provided some very unusual reasons for arriving late to work. One person tried to blame their tardiness on morning sickness, a bit of a stretch given that the employee in question was a man. Another responder claimed that “an astrologer warned me of a car accident on a major highway, so I took all back roads, making me an hour late.” Someone else said they couldn’t arrive on time because her “fake eyelashes were stuck together,” while others tried out the cliche classroom excuse of “my dog ate my work schedule.”

Although these strange explanations are funny out of context, it’s likely that the bosses who first heard them weren’t particularly amused. According to CareerBuilder’s study, 60 percent of managers expect their employees to be on time every single day. What’s more, 43 percent of employers claim they have fired someone for frequent tardiness. That’s why the majority of polled employees said they remain at their jobs longer when they’ve shown up late. Of course, just because staffers routinely do this doesn’t mean they like it. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed claimed the 9-to-5 system was outdated while 88 percent of responders said that employers should be more flexible about when work starts and ends.


  1. If you were the boss at a company, what would you say to an employee who provided a seemingly unbelievable excuse for being late?
  2. Do you think the 9-to-5 workday is outdated? If so, how could it be changed for the better?

Source: Gene Marks, “The Boss Has Heard Them All: The Craziest Late-to-Work Excuses,” The Washington Post, March 26, 2018.