The chronically late employee has worked here 3 years I just started. Short of changing my job (I've only been here a little while) I don't know what else to do. No one else is affected by this lateness except me because I have to cover both our phones until they are settled in. There's no way around that. They have been late every single day. I did try to bring up about them coming in late and their answer was mind my business. But it affects me. I'm not here to do two jobs every day 30 days in a row so far. The job description did not include covering for a late employee every day. I have yet to have my 30 day assessment. There are cameras everywhere, management seems to be aware of the situation. Yet it continues. It's been past the 30 day assessment and management hasn't gotten around to doing it. Another red flag. And this is more than 2 or 3 minutes late, every day for 30 days. I'm essentially doing two jobs here. Should I quit?

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    How late are they? Why do you have to cover both of your phones? Has your manager told you to do so? What happens if you just let their phone ring?
    – David K
    Apr 5, 2017 at 13:27
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    We can't tell you whether you should quit or not (see help center and tour for the sorts of questions we can answer), though I will say that it sounds like a massive overreaction. Why are you contemplating quitting over what ultimately sounds like a minor issue? Would you want to quit if you got twice the number of calls every morning for an hour? You're not doing 2 jobs, your 1 job just happens to include covering for someone else's job. Why haven't you asked management if you're supposed to cover for this person? Perhaps you're supposed to, perhaps not.
    – Lilienthal
    Apr 5, 2017 at 13:44
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    The "chronically late" employee may have some medical/family/logistical issue that you do not know about, because it is indeed none of your business. Their working hours may be the subject of some arrangement between the employee and management. That is consistent with management being aware of when the employee is arriving and taking no action. Apr 5, 2017 at 14:04
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    I find it interesting all the comments defending the late employee. The OP has stated IT IS affecting their work. They must answer double the number of phone calls during the time the late employee is supposed to arrive and the time they do arrive. OP, please note this in your 30 day review. Just because there are cameras does NOT mean the management is reviewing the footage. Don't whine, don't make it emotional, simply state you feel you are doing double duty first thing in the morning. You may also ask if you are required to answer their phone during that time or if you can ignore it.
    – Andieisme
    Apr 5, 2017 at 15:40
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    Didn't you just ask this last week?
    – shoover
    Apr 5, 2017 at 16:09

4 Answers 4


No one else is affected by this lateness except me because I have to cover both our phones until they are settled in. There's no way around that.

Don't blame the guy, ask your manager how you deal with the situation.

Hi Alice, I often have to answer both phones in the (first half an hour of the shift) before Bob arrives, and this inevitably means that I'm missing some calls if both phones ring at once. How would you like me to prioritise in this situation?

Of course, I'm assuming it's a reasonable length of time here - if it's consistently between 3-4 minutes, then you're going to sound petty however you phrase it. Wait for the reply, and act accordingly.

Perhaps your manager isn't aware, in which case that will make her aware of the situation without you sounding aggressive.

Perhaps she is, and there's a good (but private) reason for it, in which case you'll likely get a "just do what you can and don't worry if you miss the odd call" response.

In either case, if it just means you're a bit busier for the first half an hour of the day, this shouldn't be a massive issue.

  • +1 for pointing out the private issue. Sometimes we don't know why a co-worker is acting differently from the rest. Some may have a kid issue, a medical issue or some other more pressing issue that came up suddenly, etc. Apr 5, 2017 at 15:15
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    +1 for the same reason : the "why" the employee is always late is important. It might be a dire constraint. Ot it could be pure laziness. Short of knowing, don't assume it's laziness.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Apr 5, 2017 at 16:14
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    this inevitably means that I'm missing some calls if both phones ring at once OP should document the times that this happens. How many calls are missed because of the late employee? Show this to the manager and see if the manager is ok with OP ignoring X calls per week. Apr 5, 2017 at 18:57

You say there are cameras everywhere and management must know, but that's not necessarily true. They may not look at the camera feeds unless they have reason to suspect shenanigans. If the work that needs to get done is all getting done (by you) then they don't know anything is amiss.

Of course the late employee is going to tell you to mind your business. They clearly don't care about the trouble they're causing. My advice would be to do exactly as they suggest. Mind YOUR business, ignore THEIRS.

  • If the other person's phone starts ringing, ignore it.
  • If someone comes over to our desks with paperwork for the other employee, leave it on their desk with a sticky note or something. (Basically do whatever the delivery person would have done if neither of you were there.)
  • Etc.

If management comes to inquire why the other employee's work is not getting done, or their phone is ringing constantly, I would simply explain they they aren't here yet. If necessary, explain that you don't want to answer their phone because they've asked you not to pry into their business.

Hopefully this will lead to inquiries about when they normally arrive, which I would answer honestly. Then, if management sees the problem, maybe they'll take action to fix it. If they don't, then you need to re-evaluate if you're comfortable with how things are, and if not, leave.


Should I cover for a chronically late employee?

Since you already brought it up with your co-worker and were rebuffed, you should now ask your boss what you should do.

If the answer is that you should just cover both phones, then that is the job. You can decide if that's a job you want to continue with or you can find a new job, give an appropriate notice, then leave.

"Should I quit?" is a question only you can answer and it depends on your financial circumstances and your alternatives.

The job description did not include covering for a late employee every day.

You cannot reasonably expect a job description to mention this situation.


Disclaimer : I'll answer "Should I cover ...?" ; not "Should I quit ?".

Stop answering their phone.

You can just stop answering their phone calls, all the more if you are already handling another call. If the activity is somehow being monitored, their non-answered call metric (which is generally a Key Performance Indicator in phone-based activities) is going to rise significantly above the "normal" level, and this will raise an alert. Then management will have to investigate, since this is a direct performance issue from the other employee.

Now, there is a tricky part to your situation : you have a 30-day assessment period. I would hold on taking action before this period is over, just to ensure that this cannot be held against you. Then, I would stop answering as described above.

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    @JoeStrazzere As long as the boss doesn't tell OP to do someone elses work he can just drop the work.
    – EpicKip
    Apr 5, 2017 at 14:26
  • @JoeStrazzere Why would I systematically do someone else's work when my boss has not instructed me to do so. You say its normal, I say if you think like that too often you'd get in the same situation as OP.
    – EpicKip
    Apr 5, 2017 at 14:31
  • @JoeStrazzere That's how OP got in this situation, if he doesn't answer the phone (because he has his own dahm phone to answer) the boss will soon know and his problem will go away (late employee will have newfound problems tho). And I understand sometimes you cover for someone but when it gets out of hand like this and becomes systematic I wouldn't cover for you anymore ever.
    – EpicKip
    Apr 5, 2017 at 14:42

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