The Top 10 Excuses for Being Late to Work (And How to Avoid Them)

It’s simple to think of our lives like a race. Nothing worse than starting off late. Rushing out the door for work? Making it to an important meeting? Arriving for an after-school event? Late is never fun!

Some delays can’t be helped, like traffic jams, medical emergencies, and natural disasters. Most delays, though, can be avoided. Here’s a look at common excuses for being late, and how to prevent them. That way, you’ll be ahead of the game!

Reasons for Being Late to Work

Do you know the phrase “I was running late”? Have you felt the stress of being late for work without a plausible excuse? You’re not the only one. A lot of us have gone through this.

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To help, here’s a list of the top 10 excuses for being tardy and how to prevent it in the future.


Traffic can be a frequent cause of tardiness. You can’t totally avoid it, but you can have a good understanding of the local traffic flow. Also, leaving early or testing different routes might help.

Aim to arrive at work early or even five minutes before your shift starts. That way, you can set yourself up for the day. If the traffic is really bad, use it as a chance to make final preparations or answer emails before you clock in.

Forgetting to Set an Alarm

Forgetting to set your alarm is a horrible way to start your day. It’ll only add to your stress. To avoid this, make sure your alarm is set before going to bed. Calculate enough time for getting dressed, having breakfast, and commuting.

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Getting enough sleep is also important, or the alarm won’t wake you up! If you do forget, talk to your superior before. This way they won’t wonder if you take being punctual seriously. Put yourself in their shoes. Then communicate clearly.


Oversleeping = late to work. Alarm fails? Ask someone to wake you. To make sure you wake up: exercise before bed, and go to bed early. That way, you won’t have to try too hard to sleep. Plus, you’ll be well-rested and ready for the new day!

Car Trouble

Car troubles can be a reasonable explanation for tardiness. However, it may be overused at times. It’s a common excuse, ranging from a flat tire to an engine failure. Some may even say their car broke down off-road.

Try finding an alternate means of transportation such as public transport, biking, or walking if feasible. Pre-planning is key for avoiding problems on the road. Plan your travel ahead and make sure your ride is up-to-date on maintenance. That way, you can avoid costly vehicle repairs, and you’ll arrive to work on time.

Public Transportation Delays

Public transport delays can be really stressful and unavoidable. You could be crammed in a bus or have to wait in a line for twenty minutes or longer. You could reach the bus stop only to find out it was delayed due to traffic or a breakdown.

To avoid delays, plan ahead. Research all transport services. Find out the current status of buses on your route. Get breaking news from the internet or mobile apps about any foreseeable delays or cancellations. Have a back-up option. Aim to arrive an hour earlier instead of fifteen minutes prior. This way, even if there’s a delay, it won’t be noticed much.

Inclement Weather

Bad weather can be an excuse to be late for work. When winter comes, plan ahead! Leave home earlier than usual. Consider traffic or public transport delays. Bring a flashlight, batteries, a blanket, and a first-aid kit in the car, just in case. Employers may also offer flexible hours, so you can stay safe and get to work on time.

If weather is stopping you, check See what options work best.

Family Emergencies

Family emergencies are an excuse which employers often view as more sympathetic and understanding. These may range from a family member’s death, to illness, or medical attention. Employers need to be sensitive when considering this excuse for lateness.

It may be necessary for family members to come along to work for these events. Employees should inform their employer of this situation before it arises. If this occurs regularly, employers may start questioning why it keeps happening. It is important for employees to ask for permission and flexibility so trust is built between themselves and their employer.

Employees dealing with recurrent family emergencies should be honest with their employers and make an agreement about how to manage these issues without disruption. Punctuality is important in any workplace, so employees should plan ahead to meet whatever commitments they have!

Health Issues

Health problems often lead to tardiness in the workplace. It might be a cold or a serious injury, but health concerns can affect your ability to meet deadlines. Medical treatments or tests can make you late too.

Don’t attempt to hide these issues – employers understand that health comes first. As long as you explain the situation to them and don’t use this excuse too often, they should be understanding.

Personal Appointments

Personal appointments can vary- haircuts, doctor visits, a wedding or funeral in another city- but it’s not best to do them during work hours. Explain to your supervisor the unavoidable circumstances. With enough notice, they should be accommodating.

Requesting flexible hours could help you manage both personal and work tasks without too much disruption.

Poor Planning

Poor planning is a top ten excuse for turning up late to work. It’s common.

Plan your morning the night before. Know what needs doing in the morning. Leave extra time for any unexpected problems.

Make sure you leave for work with time for detours or delays. That way you can be on-time!

How to Avoid Being Late

Being late to work? Not ideal! It’s a time-waster and can damage our relationships with colleagues. We know it’s tough to stay on top of our to-dos and schedules. That’s why we often rush to work at the last minute. But, it doesn’t have to be like this.

Let’s look at common excuses for being late and ways to avoid it. Ready to be successful? Let’s go!

Leave Early

Leaving early for work is always a wise choice. But you can take it further by checking traffic and travel updates. That way, you can plan alternate routes.

If you take public transport, give yourself extra time for extra stops or mechanical issues. Have a plan B of nearby alternative transportation. That way, delays won’t cause you to be late for work.

Most of the time, being late due to a long commute is excused. These tips will help you stay punctual and on time.

Set Multiple Alarms

Setting multiple alarms is one of the best ways to avoid being late to work. Don’t be tempted to hit snooze – it can cause you to be late. Place the alarms at least 15 minutes apart. Change the type of sound for each one – use your phone’s noises, a track from a TV show, or a kitchen timer.

It will be hard to fall asleep if you know you will face consequences for not waking up. Those tasks and deadlines will still be waiting for you when the day ends.

Plan Ahead

To avoid being late to work, plan ahead! Before the end of each day, review plans and schedule for the next. Update plans if something unexpected arises.

Lay out clothes and pack lunch for work the night before. This saves time in the morning. Add buffer time for traffic or delays too.

Before leaving home or office, double-check everything is taken care of. Labels on containers? Any forgotten or left undone tasks? Double-checking helps make sure nothing is overlooked!

Have a Backup Plan

If you don’t have a good car or use public transport, have a plan B. Ask a friend, family member or neighbor to pick you up in case of an emergency. Uber and Lyft are options in cities, if your backup plan doesn’t work out. Charge your phone before, so if you need to call someone, you can.

Having a backup plan will make you less late for work and put your mind at ease. It can also save time and deter future tardiness.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Harnessing the power of tech is a great way to make sure you never miss work again! Alarm clocks and calendar reminders are the basic tools. But if you’re tech-savvy, there are plenty of apps to help you manage your time. These include barcode scans for alarms and ‘smart’ calendars that adjust based on traffic patterns. Nudge notifications and reminders give timely alerts for upcoming events and deadlines.

Utilizing technology can help us break bad habits and stay ahead of the game!

Communicate with Your Employer

Communicate clearly with your employer when trying to manage your time. Alert them if you think you’ll be late for an appointment. Most bosses understand. If they asked to be notified in advance, do it!

Open communication is key to not being late.

Take Responsibility

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When you’re late to work, be responsible. Don’t make excuses. This reflects badly on you and the company.

Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons for arriving late, like car issues or traffic jams. Let colleagues or bosses know the truth. Depending on policy, you might get a warning or punishment. It’s best to tell them in advance, so they don’t think you’re lying.

Make sure to be proactive in avoiding such issues in future. Check transport routes before leaving. And make sure your phone/device is charged when travelling.


Be the leader of the pack and never show up late to work. Avoid common problems like confusing alarm clocks, packed schedules, and slow public transport. Showing up on time and ready is vital in places that value punctuality and reliability.

Take the time to make sure your commute runs smooth. Plan ahead and leave extra time in case of an emergency. This will make your supervisor happy and help you start your day focused – something we all need more of!



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