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From “it’s too cold,” to “I fell asleep in the parking lot,” people have crazy excuses.

2 minute read

If you’re running late for work, don’t blame it on heeding your astrologer’s warning of a car accident. Weird, right? But someone has done it.

That’s just one of the bizarre excuses workers give to bosses when they’re late for work, says a study from CareerBuilder.

Here are some other outrageous claims…

  • I have morning sickness (a man said this)
  • My coffee was hot; I couldn’t leave the house until it cooled down
  • I accidentally drove to my old job (this person left that job five years prior)
  • My fake eyelashes were stuck together
  • My dog ate my work schedule

In all seriousness, the most common reasons for being late are: traffic (51 percent), oversleeping (31 percent), bad weather (28 percent), feeling too tired to get out bed (23 percent), and forgetting something at home (13 percent).

Blaming a dog is a common excuse. It’s an old one from elementary school that some people carry into adulthood. Someone has also blamed their cat birthing a litter of kittens. (Those poor pets take blame for their owners’ stupidity.)

Staffing firm Accountemps ran a similar poll last year. One of the top excuses was, “my dog ate my car keys.” Driving to an old job out of habit seems to be a popular excuse too, that showed up in Accountemps’ survey also.

How often are you late to work?

When employees were asked how often they were late to work, 1 in 4 (25 percent) admitted doing it at least once a month, which is down from 29 percent in CareerBuilder’s poll last year. Twelve percent are late on a weekly basis, down four percentage points from last year.

And who’s late most often? Younger workers. Here’s how work tardiness breaks down by age…

  • 18-34 year olds: 38 percent
  • 35-44 year olds: 36 percent
  • 45 and older: 14 percent

With so many people running late to work every month, do bosses even mind? The research shows that most of them do.

Sixty percent of managers say the expect their employees to be on time every day, which has increased from 57 percent last year. More than 2 in 5 (43 percent) have fired an employee for being late, which is also up from last year (41 percent).

To stay in their boss’s good graces, 65 percent of employees who show up late say they’ll stay later to make up the time lost. Which may not cut it for a lot of managers, according to Accountemps.

“Even if you’re staying longer and putting in the same hours as others, your manager will still remember if you don’t show up when you are supposed to,” says Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps.

He feels tardiness reflects poorly on an employee’s attitude and work ethic — regardless if they make it up the missed time.

“Perception is reality. Right or wrong, showing up to work late can cause people to question your commitment,” Steinitz says. “Just because you haven’t been reprimanded for arriving late doesn’t mean it’s gone unnoticed.”

What to do when you’re running late

CareerBuilder has been running this survey for years, but doesn’t often tell readers what they should do if they’re running late to work themselves. Last year CareerBuilder’s chief human resources officer Rosemary Haefner gave Business Insider a few tips to make your boss’s scolding less severe…

  • Call ahead
  • Be honest
  • Apologize
  • Explain why, but not some ridiculous story
  • Assure your boss it won’t become a habit
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About the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Joe Pye is a certified debt management professional. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Florida Atlantic University’s student-run newspaper, the University Press. He was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence award by the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 for feature writing and in-depth reporting. He now covers personal finance topics for uncovering trends that help readers deal with the financial world. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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