Dear Ted: Is it OK to fire someone who has been late every other day for the past two weeks?

Posted on 23rd October, 2019

I’m pleased you asked first!  This is a guy who has worked for you, without blemish, for 3 years.  The first thing you have to do is have a very gentle private chat.


Simply say that you’ve noticed that he has been in late quite often recently (don’t formalise by stating dates and times at this stage) and ask if all is OK.  Then go quiet, don’t fill the void (if there is one) by chatting, instead give him time to compose himself and tell you what he wants to.


I’ve been here many times in life, and the reasons can be annoying and fixable (the trains are messing up, my car share has ceased, my bike is being repaired); or sometimes they can be very serious, such as my partner or parent is ill, my son is being bullied on the way to school so I need to take him, or I’m having to go to the doctors for a regular blood pressure test and they don’t open till 8am; and finally they can be annoying for another reason, for example he admits he’s been going for interviews!


If the gentle chat and your offer of support doesn’t work then you can get into warnings and disciplinary action, but it’s rare this is needed.  Most people just need some help, or recognition, or flexibility (eg you agree different hours for the next couple of months) and it’s sorted.

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