Worker Excuses for Being Late Can Sound Incredible

Seven percent of workers surveyed admitted they are tardy every day.

Only one in 10 chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed by Accountemps said they are OK with tardiness only if productivity doesn’t suffer.


Forty-seven percent of respondents said coming in late on occasion isn’t a problem unless it becomes a pattern. The rest (43%) believe workers should arrive on time so others can rely on them during set hours.


A separate survey of office workers found 58% said they are occasionally late to work, and 7% admitted they are tardy every day. Fifty-four percent of workers ages 55 and older are never late to work, compared to 36% of those ages 35 to 54 and 23% of respondents ages 18 to 34. Forty-three percent of employees said their productivity has suffered because a colleague arrived late to work.


Employee excuses for being late can sound incredible. CFOs cited the following excuses they’ve been given by workers for being tardy:

  • “I drove to my old job out of habit.”
  • “I thought I was still on vacation.”
  • “I had nothing to wear.”
  • “I thought it was Saturday.”
  • “My hair got caught in a fan.”
  • “I super-glued my eye thinking it was contact solution.”
  • “Geese chased me on my way to the car.”
  • “My cat delivered its litter of kittens.”
  • “Someone spilled their coffee all over me on the way to work.”
  • “I was stuck in an elevator with a kid that pushed the buttons for all of the floors.”
  • “A truck full of fish flipped over on the highway.”
  • “My dog ate my car keys.”
  • “I got locked in the gas station restroom and had to wait for someone to get me out.”


The surveys included responses from more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and more than 1,000 workers ages 18 and older who work in an office environment in the U.S.