Employee Timekeeping – What to do when time isn’t being kept

Employee Timekeeping - Centric HR

Do you have issues with employee timekeeping? It’s frustrating when you go through the appointment process, get the best people for the job and then it turns out that you have an employee who views punctuality being the province of others.

We all have the occasional moment of tardiness and this is to be expected, but when someone is persistently late to work, and doesn’t see that this is an issue, steps need to be taken before it causes separate problems for the business.

In the first instance, the order of events for the day can be affected by one person not making the start of the working day. Secondly co-workers will lose morale if they see a colleague receiving no reprimand for lack of timekeeping, as this could cause further problems for them due to rescheduled meetings and appointments. Further to this, it could damage your brand with clients if they are being let down, or it is obvious there is an employee who isn’t seen to take their role seriously.

Having spent the time and money to get the best candidates, you obviously felt that this was a good appointment, so before letting it frustrate you to the point you remonstrate loudly and in front of others, here are a few ways to see if the problem can be dealt with quickly, quietly and easily.


1)     Look at your policy first if you have one!

If you have a policy then you will be able to follow a best practice process that will guide you to manage your people effective and will reflect the following additional steps below.  If you do have a policy it is important that you do not breach your own process.

2)     Talk to them

Engaging with your people is so important – there may be a situation you aren’t aware of in the employee’s personal life. Speak to them and see if there is a reason behind their persistent lateness.

3)     Verbalise your disappointment

It sounds a bit cliché, but like a parent telling a child that they are disappointed, it is more likely to solicit the required response.  It’s also useful to draw a ‘line in the sand’ and clearly explain what the expectations are of employee timekeeping.

4)     Create an action plan

You have spoken to them, they have given you a reason. If they have raised an issue related to external pressures it’s always a good idea to get them to come up with the solution and then mutually agree that with them. If necessary, arrange flexible working hours to alleviate the problem for either a time-limited period or on a continuing basis.

5)     Clearly outline the consequences

Once you have gone out of your way to help, then the employee has to meet you on the grounds that have been either mutually agreed or that you have set out. Any further tardiness will not be received well, and they need to be fully aware of the consequences should their behaviours continue in this manner.  If you do have a employee timekeeping policy in place then make sure you make them aware of it and that continued lateness could result in an informal or even formal policy being invoked.

6)     Respect privacy

All conversations like this should be had in private. And if any special arrangements are organised, then let other employees know so they do not perceive special treatment is being given. The arrangements can be shared, but never the reasons why.

7)     Monitor

Monitor and review the situation as required.  Keeping records of persistent lateness is key to managing effectively  – especially if you need to move to the next stage.

Once you have dealt with this problem, then the employee and their colleagues should begin to move in the well-oiled machine it was before.  Other employees will appreciate you managing the situation in a professional and helpful manner.

For further information on employment timekeeping or any other HR queries, please contact us here.

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Sandra Berns

Centric HR was founded by Sandra Berns, a confident and versatile Human Resources and Organisational Development Practitioner with 25 years demonstrable experience and a Fellow of the CIPD. Sandra has both Operational and Strategic HR expertise across Public and Private sectors and has assisted senior teams in meeting challenging workforce objectives in many corporate environments.