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?

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    Is it possible to take an earlier train? If you have a set start time, the company will expect you to be at work that time each day regardless of things like traffic, a late train, etc.
    – user77653
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 22:33
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    Anyone is allowed to check the train time tables. But you are asking the wrong question. You don't really want to know if what they are doing is legal (it most likely is, and do you want to hire a lawyer and take them to court? ). What you want to know is how to handle the situation.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 23:50
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    Why would they need your permission to check the train schedule? Maybe you should take an earlier train.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 1:25
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    "Are employers allowed to check your train times without your permission?" Is it on a secret railroad that only you know about?
    – Joe
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:01
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    Are employers allowed to check your train times without your permission? - This is not the question you should have asked. That's audacious. The question should have been "how can I resolve this problem OF MINE." Answer: Take an earlier train or ask your boss if it's ok for you to occasionally and unpredictably come late to work.
    – Battle
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 12:07

6 Answers 6


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.

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    This. Any kind of transport(bar maybe walking, and I'm not even sure, in case of snow) is prone to delays. So one has to take a margin. If there is a train every 15 minutes, one arrives at 0757 and you must be at work at 0800, then aim for the train arriving at 0742.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 10:32
  • Only if there is a reason why you must be there at 8am.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 17:25
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    @gnasher729 he was told he had to be there by 8, that is reason enough.
    – Andy
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 22:35
  • It's true that this is the real issue, but the boss now still thinks that OP lied about the train's delay. What would you do about that?
    – kscherrer
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 14:23
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    That's assuming there is an earlier train. Where I live, train and bus service in the rural areas starts around 5 or 6, and a 2 hour frequency isn't unheard of, so if they, say, needed to be in at 7:30, they'd have exactly one option. Commented May 28, 2019 at 17:24

I work in a factory. If your late you get docked pay I take the bus and I get there a half hour early and if the bus is late I still get there early so you just need to take early trains

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    This. The problem is not the managers checking the train schedule, the problem is the employee who knows the trains are regularly behind schedule and has not (as yet) taken action to account for that. (Sorry OP, I mean you no disrespect, but this is on you, not on the company.)
    – Steve-O
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 13:35

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.

  • 1
    In many countries employers have the right to check this as long as it is done in a legal way. If you are late all the time, and the company thinks it's not because your train is an hour late but because you leave your home an hour late, they can check that. More likely if you are on sick leave and the company doesn't trust you.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 0:03
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    The thing is, it doesn't matter if the employee is late because of trains or not. A late employee is late regardless of whether they chose the "right" train or not. Train timetables are a total red herring in this question.
    – dwizum
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:58
  • Not at all. The manager didn’t complain that OP was late - they complained because they felt the explanation for lateness wasn’t true.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 17:26
  • @gnasher729 Hardly, they clearly have started paying attention to the tardiness - it is not a far stretch of imagination to think that this is due to earlier tardiness. (ref "again" in OP's post)
    – Stian
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 9:19
  • @StianYttervik Read the question. It is not visible anywhere in the question that anyone complains about him being late. The complaint is that his explanation / excuse doesn't seem to be the truth.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:22

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.

  • If the "earlier train" is the night before, then a tent in the car park?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 11:35
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    @SolarMike you don't dispute a point using extreme examples, especially given that this answer provides a handfull of different and possible solution. Let's be reasonable with objections.
    – Czar
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:05
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    @Czar well I wanted a train to be somewhere for 08.00 and after looking at the schedule the only one possible was 19.30 the night before... So, how is that "extreme" ? Or just reality...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:34
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    @SolarMike Substitute "extreme" with "very unlikely example" and the point remains exactly the same. It's like having a discussion about, say, father-son relationship and stating "well, my father was a violent mass-murderer..." No one disputes the factual experience, but it's not an argument and, again, the scope of this answer was much wider and richer.
    – Czar
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 14:03
  • @SolarMike What if the trains run every 5 minutes?
    – DaveG
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 17:36

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.

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    This solves nothing. The reason for the conflict is that the OP is late more frequently than his boss can accept, which your solution will not help.
    – MvZ
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 11:13
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    How would that practically work? What shot would I take to have proof the train was late? Me in a train seat next to todays newspaper? Would I have to somehow manage to get a shot with the train's ID number, myself and the clock in the station showing time and date on it? Proving a time sensitive issue with a photograph seems hard to impossible.
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 12:54
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    The clock on the station works with the picture of the train. Or just a timestamped picture of the train arriving at the station. Most stations also keep an updated schedule panel where delays are clearly pointed out. But if the underlying problem is not the train being late but the manager being tired of excuses for being late, this won't help.
    – BoboDarph
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 15:02
  • This would only ignite a fight over an estabilished trust issue. If beign late is consistent, the worker should adapt and catch earlier trains; if it's impossible or creates real discomfort, he should discuss arrangements, the important thing is that those arrangements are mutual.
    – Czar
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 15:22
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    So now you've confirmed to the boss you should be catching an earlier train, what next? Commented May 24, 2019 at 18:00

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