Speaking as an employee and someone who has never been in a position of authority as this situation dictates, I find it inexcusable when others are late repeatedly. Sure, we all experience these things every now and again, but if it’s a known problem, then just make sure you leave enough time to get to work allowing for any delays. Imagine they tripped over something on the way to the station. It’s not their fault, but the train isn’t going to wait for them.
It’s a bit like ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse. Sure it might not be your fault directly, but if you know your dog has a penchant for eating education related stationery, then it is up to the student to protect it. The teacher would most likely eventually tire of this excuse and place the student in detention, thus solving this issue as the ‘homework’ would be completed before leaving school and not available for the dog’s nourishment.
By allowing your employees to ‘get away with it’ you’re implicitly saying that it’s ok to be late and you’re effectively punishing your other employees who adhere to their contracts. At the end of the day, they are being paid for the time they are supposed to be in work, working. If they are salaried, then the company loses out.
As you say, flexitime systems can be problematic and costs the company quite a bit per capita in administration/software etc.
In any company, there has to be a line. When it comes to illness, regardless of what the issue was, most companies will not tolerate repeated absence and will place employees on an attendance review programme and will certainly not pay in full indefinitely. Tardiness is just the same and a perfectly legitimate reason for performance management.
The problem you might now have is that you’ve left it too late and it would now seem too much of an unexpected reaction to go in, guns blazing. That said, you may lose tour good employees if they feel that nothing is being done about it.
My own position would be that it will eventually affect your team as a whole and not just the ones who are late and you may need to sacrifice the detractors in order to make tor team more effective.
Well, that’s my two cents. In any case, my ‘late’ is 15 minutes early.