My trains are pretty dire most of the time and I was late again for work last week - only about 10-15 mins but as always I send a message to my boss to say I’ll be a little late. I got called in and was told that they checked my trains and they seemed fine. To explain my situation, the internet webpage always says one thing as does the app, but reality is when you get to the station. Are employers allowed to check your train times without your permission?
and I was late again for work last week
This is the real issue. You need to leave early enough so a train can be late without causing you to show up past your start time.
Your boss (and anyone else) can look up the publically available train times.
I'm not sure why your boss decided to point out he didn't believe your story about the trains being late.
What your boss should have said.
Part of the job is showing up ready to work promptly at 9 A.M. You need to be sure you're here by 9 A.M. even if it means getting to work a little bit early.
Stop worrying if what your employer did was legal/ethical - it was. Get to work on time or you likely will not be working there much longer.
EDIT (in response to comments):
Some commenters have pointed out that it may be more than a 15-minute wait between buses depending on where you live. If you live in an outlying area, the bus may only come once an hour, or not be at all reliable.
If it's truly impossible to reliably show up for work at a set time, you need to change your transport or change your job so that isn't true. If it's shift work, then you're likely making someone stay late to cover your tardiness.
Even if it's not, you're likely not the only person taking the bus and everyone else shows up on time. If the bus comes every 15 minutes, just be prepared to catch the earlier one and bring a book or something to read while you wait to start work.
If the bus isn't reliable, you'll probably need to consider carpooling or buying a car. Showing up late is going to get noticed at most jobs, so now is a good time to build this habit.
Are employers allowed to check your train times without your permission?
They don't need your permission to check train timetables.
If you claim your train was late and the website claims otherwise they can legitimately contest your claim.
What they can not do is follow or attempt to track you. But since you have volunteered this information willingly (told them which train you were on and that it was late) they have every right to check the validity of your claim and call you out on any discrepancies.
Take an earlier train or find a job closer to home.
I'm straying from your original question because many have already answered it.
Sorry if this sounds harsh, but you are entirely missing the point. You are trying to paint your employer as the bad guy rather than facing your continued failure.
It is your fault you are frequently late, not the train's, not your boss'. Don't try to blame him. You broke his trust. It's up to you to fix it.
The fact they even checked means your boss is fed up with your inability to be reliable. I would suggest you figure out how you are going to commit yourself to being at work on time. Then, especially after your new plan has started, talk with your boss. Tell him you realized you were placing your responsibility on him, you're sorry and you have begun taking the earlier train to ensure this is not a pattern.
Your employer can check any kind of publicly available information for any reason, including to check whether there is merit to your reason for being late.
If it feels like an injustice, then that is because it feels as if your boss mistrusts you. His feeling of mistrust is as real and valid as your feeling of injustice.
You are free to live wherever you live and to commute in whatever way you commute. But you also made the decision to sign a contract with your employer, which carries an obligation. You provide labour at the agreed-upon time and place and get a paycheck in return.
You are breaching that agreement on a frequent basis, which erodes your boss' trust in you. Now, you should expect leniency from him when force majeure causes you to be late. But force majeure implies that you have done all you reasonably can be expected to, in order to meet your obligation.
If you cannot change how you commute (earlier train, Uber if the train has trouble), you may change how you live (closer to work), renegotiate the contract (different hours), or find a job that matches your situation a little better.
Take a camera with you (most likely a phone with a camera). When your train is late take a few photos as evidence. So the next time you are accused of making it up, you show your photos.
Some people are wondering how this would work. I can easily take a photo of the station clock two minutes before the train is due, showing I wasn’t late, and another photo with the clock and the train arriving.
I would also ask some people to re-read the question. The company DID NOT complain about him being late. They complained that his explanation didn't ring true.