Survey: Craziest Excuses People Give For Being Late To Work

late-for-work excuses: car breakdown

By Susan Ricker

Most of us have been late to work at some point. According to a new CareerBuilder study, 26 percent of workers admit to being tardy at least once a month and 16 percent are late once a week or more. But what excuses do people give for being late?

More than 2,600 hiring managers and more than 3,900 workers nationwide were surveyed to find out what's delaying workers from starting on time, what causes them to run late and the consequences of delayed arrivals.

"Employers understand that every now and again circumstances will arise that are out of a worker's control and unfortunately cause a late arrival to work," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "It escalates to a problem when the behavior becomes repetitive, causing employers to take disciplinary action. More than one-third of hiring managers reported they had to fire someone for being late."

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Excuses, Excuses
Hiring managers shared some of the most memorable excuses they've heard from employees who were late getting to the office. While 31 percent of workers pointed to traffic as the most common cause for tardiness, some answers were more memorable than a bad commute:
  • Employee dropped her purse into a coin-operated newspaper box and couldn't retrieve it without change (which was in the purse).
  • Employee accidentally left the apartment with his roommate's girlfriend's shoes on and had to go back to change.
  • Employee's angry wife had frozen his truck keys in a glass of water in the freezer.
  • Employee got a late start because she was putting a raincoat on her cement duck in her front yard (because rain was expected later that day).
  • Employee's car wouldn't start because the breathalyzer showed he was intoxicated.
  • Employee attempted to cut his own hair before work and the clippers stopped working, so he had to wait until the barber shop opened to fix his hair.
  • Employee's car was attacked by a bear (had photographic evidence).
  • Employee drove to her previous employer by mistake.
  • Employee claimed to have delivered a stranger's baby on the side of the highway.

Avoiding A Late Arrival
The key to being a punctual employee and avoiding your employer's frustration is to understand your schedule and be prepared. If you have free time in the evening, take advantage of the extra minutes and prepare your meals, clothes and bag or briefcase the night before. Likewise, if you need daylight to get moving, set the alarm for an earlier wake-up time to avoid rushing and running late. Also check how the weather may affect your commute, and leave ample time to get to the office. These small steps can get you to work on time and save you from trying to come up with a believable story.

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Many years ago I called my boss and said " I got lucky last night and want to stay that way all day". He said he could not argue with that one. I love that guy, best boss in the world.

February 08 2013 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I woke up to find my roommate had taped a dozen layers of newspaper over my bedroom door. Once I broke through, I followed notes around the house to find my keys frozen in a cup of ice in the freezer. He had been nice enough to leave a pot of hot water in the coffee maker. I was late to work that day and when I told my boss why, he said it was so far fetched that it must be the truth.

February 08 2013 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Froze his keys? Pretty original and very funny, but it would not take that long to get them out. Go out side and smash the ice on the pavement or use a hammer to crack the ice then run water over them. Maybe 5 minutes of delay. If you run out wearing you GF's shoes either you have small feet or your GF has big feet, I wear a 14 shoe, my wife wears an 8, no way I couls use that excuse. I wonder if he put on her high heels? Drove to her old job by mistake, now that is a good one...

February 08 2013 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had one employee that said his dog swallowed his car keys.

February 08 2013 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who gives a ---- what excuse the "hiring manager" hears, unless THEY are the BOSS.

February 08 2013 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked the frozen keys one. Think I'll use this one myself.

February 08 2013 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A co-worker couldn't come in on a busy day because he said he had ringworm.

February 08 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HAHA! These people will have no longevity in the workplace, for sure.

February 08 2013 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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