I work for a micro company with less than 10 employees and the working atmosphere is generally good and everyone gets along most of the time. One gripe is that people are on time but there is one employee who is frequently late and we have a morning meeting at 9am which this disrupts. I read this question in which the top answer suggests moving the meeting later however we have a colleague that works overseas and, due to the time difference, the 9am meeting is towards the end of their working day so would not be fair to move the meeting any later.

The employee is usually only 2-3 minutes late and lets the boss know each time they are going to be late. However when the boss is not present this often increases to 20-40 minutes late. There was an occasion recently where they were going to site with another colleague, the boss was not present for this either, and they were 75 minutes late. Furthermore, when the colleague is late they will then prepare breakfast / browse the web for a few minutes as soon as they get in - activities which are acceptable when arriving on time.

There is no real hierarchy in our company, everyone just reports to one boss, but this has the obvious drawback when employees take liberties like the aforementioned employee. This makes it difficult for myself and other employees to deal with these issues without going directly to the boss which could potentially sour the relationship with the employee in question.

The real gripe is that this employee still gets all the benefits of the other employees; pay rises, bonuses, meals out paid for by the company etc.

The boss is aware of the occasional lateness but perhaps the severity / frequency is often played down by the employee / colleagues in order not to sour any relationships. So how could the severity / frequency be brought to the boss' attention without souring any relationships?

  • 1
    Does this employee know that their continual tardiness is beginning to get on people's nerves? Does no one say anything after the fourth, fifth time they come in late?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 7, 2021 at 10:18
  • People do comment and express their frustration but the employee often shows little remorse towards them. The real difficulty is that no one has seniority over this person, except the boss who, as I mentioned, does not see the full extent of the severity and frequency.
    – Jsk
    Jul 7, 2021 at 10:23
  • As far as you know, why does this employee arrive consistently late especially when the boss is absent? What are their justifications? Do you have a clock card machine installed at work?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 7, 2021 at 10:50
  • Should have left for site on time, it’s then their responsiblity to get there.
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 7, 2021 at 11:30
  • 2
    You have a colleague that regularly is rude (by being late to meetings). I'm not sure why you care about not souring relationships. Obviously this colleague doesn't share that concern. I would have a frank discussion with them and, if that doesn't help, go to my manager and complain that their lateness impacts my efficiency.
    – user29390
    Jul 7, 2021 at 11:52

3 Answers 3

> The real gripe is that this employee still gets all the benefits of the other employees; pay rises, bonuses, meals out paid for by the company etc.

So the real problem is not that the occasional lateness of this person causes any actual issues for you, your colleagues or the company. But that his/her lateness is "unfair" for you and your colleagues. Well so much things are unfair in life, for example.

  • some people have/had rich parents and can spend their life drinking marguerita's in the pool, while you have to actually work to support yourself.

  • while you probably pay an income tax of 30 percent or more, very rich people and big corporations pay far less due to the shrewd accountants, lawyers and other such people they can employ.

  • while you probably do some useful work for a modest salary, some people will earn more than you in a lifetime with a silly cat video.

In light of these things is this "injustice" this tardy collegue is doing to you and your colleagues really that important? So summarized, if you are not the boss/manager of this person and the occasional lateness is not affecting your work just let this one go. If you do want to fight unfairness and injustice in this world get involved in politics and choose a more worthy cause.


The key question here is "what's the problem with this employee being late?".

If the meeting goal can be achieved without them, then who cares if they are late or not? If the meeting fails, than the consequences of the fail should be obvious and it's perfectly ok to ask employee responsible for the fail to fix it or at least what they are planning to do about it.

Things are more complicated if the meeting has no stated goal or agenda. Then it may be worth revisiting the purpose of the meeting and who really needs to be there. Make sure that all attendees agree that it is a good use of their time to be there.

You can always elevate but that should always be done about the "consequences" of the behavior and not the behavior itself. "Bob was late" is not good. "We couldn't get the SW drop out of the door on time because Alice was late to the release meeting" is better.

  • 1
    Exactly this. Focus on the business impact of their tardiness, otherwise it sounds like whining from the OP.
    – spuck
    Jul 7, 2021 at 15:11

This looks like a you problem.

Has this person's tardiness affected the results of her work? Has it upset the team's results in any meaningful way? Does anyone's work output suffer if this person is several minutes late?

If the answer to all those questions is no, then this is a you problem. You have a problem with this person, not the company, not the team.

The fact that you mentioned your frustration with the fact they are not punished for being late makes me believe you consider yourself this person's manager. Since you stated there are no formal managers in the team outside the "boss", I would refrain from making such remarks within the team, as you are not tasked with monitoring people and doing so might result in frictions within the team.

Again, what this person does is none of your damn business as long as it's not directly affecting you or the team you work in and it's not your job to monitor them. I would be wary of letting my employer know I took on the liberty to monitor my coworkers without their consent.

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