good excuses for late to work

  • Aug 25, 2021

20 Good Excuses for Being Late to Work

Everyone’s bound to run late for work at some point – and sometimes the reasons will be ridiculous. And sometimes it’s okay to tell a little white lie.

Angela Stephanou

Angela Stephanou

Career and Lifestyle Writer

Late for Work Excuses

‘I couldn’t get out of bed’ or ‘the coffee ran out’ aren’t the best excuses to give when running late for work. No, your boss won’t believe you when you tell him that a zebra held up the traffic or a huge typhoon hit your house.

If you’re late for work, you need to give a valid reason for your delay. It might mean telling a little white lie and putting on your best act, but at least you avoid getting that shake of disapproval from your boss .

Instead of saying you spent half an hour scrolling through Facebook, here are 20 more reasonable and valid excuses for being late to work .

1. ‘There was too much traffic’

‘Sorry for being late, a lane was closed, and it caused a massive traffic jam’. Those pesky roadworks, hey? This is a pretty easy and obvious excuse to use when arriving late to work. It’s not your fault, and there’s no proving that it was actually the snooze button that kept you from arriving on time. Cheeky, I know.

2. ‘A family member was sick’

A little white lie never hurt anybody, right? Telling your manager that your child or partner needed medical attention at 8 am is probably an easy route to go down if you’re running late to the office. Plus, your manager will probably offer some sympathy (oops).

3. ‘My car broke down’

Driving to work has its downsides. Sometimes, bad things happen, and your car just doesn’t start in the morning. Explain to your employer that your vehicle is to blame for your late arrival and in classic Friends style, that something was wrong with the ‘left phalange’. Here’s to hoping they know absolutely nothing about cars.

4. ‘My babysitter let me down’

Late for the office? If you have kids, it would be perfectly understandable to say that your babysitter let you down that morning. I mean, finding an alternative at 8 am isn’t easy and of course, it’s going to delay your day. You can’t leave the kids alone at home, so your boss has no reason to argue against this excuse.

5. ‘I was stopped by the police’

When in trouble, blame the police. Getting stopped on the highway is bound to delay you some extra minutes. Especially, when you have to hand in all your personal information and then you end up getting caught in extra traffic. Never tell your boss that you were caught for speeding, though, because they’ll want proof. Just say that they were doing random checks on the highway (lying hurts, I know).

6. ‘My pet ran away’

Sometimes, that hairdryer just doesn’t want to work in the mornings. If that’s your real reason for being late to work, it’s time to think up a more valid excuse for your supervisor. Say that you spent half an hour chasing your dog Benji down the street after he escaped your gates. If you have a manager who loves animals, this excuse will go down pretty well.

7. ‘My water pipes burst’

Use excuses that will make your boss sympathise with you – like saying your water pipes burst. There’s no proof it didn’t happen, and it will explain why you’re looking flustered this morning (when really, it’s because there was a spider in the bedroom that kept you getting out of bed). Waiting for the maintenance guy to turn up and having to mop your house has delayed you a good hour, and well, work had to wait.

8. ‘I felt very ill’

We’ve all had mornings where we’ve woken up feeling like death warmed up. We’re sure your boss has, too. So, use this as an excuse to explain your tardiness. Calling in sick and using good excuses like, ‘I feel dizzy’ or ‘I’m projectile vomiting’ are ways to avoid that look of disapproval from your manager.

9. ‘I lost my bag’

On your way to work, you stopped off to grab a bottle of milk for the office (points for being generous to your colleagues), but you realised you left your bag in the shop. By the time you noticed and drove back to the store, it was already 9.30. Pretending to have your bag stolen is a great cover story to protect you from being told off by your employer.

10. ‘The weather was really bad’

If waking up from a terrible nightmare had you too shaken up to head to work on time, it’s best you think up a more reasonable excuse for your boss. Explain that the snowy or rainy weather got your car stuck or the roads were closed off. This might even be the best excuse to get out of work the whole day!

11. ‘The subway/bus was out of order’

For those who use public transport to get to work, this excuse will be as easy as pie. Call in late and simply explain to your supervisor that the subway is closed due to technical checks or that your usual bus didn’t turn up because of drivers’ strikes. This is the perfect reason for being late.

12. ‘I was held up at the doctor’s’

You booked your appointment way before you’re supposed to get to work, but the waiting room was overcrowded, and the doctor took too long to see you. Now, that’s an excuse that will sweeten up your boss. A doctor’s visit is always a concern for your employer, so this cover-up story for being late might even get you some sympathy. Don’t forget to *fake cough*!

13. ‘There’s been a death in the family’

This excuse is pretty dramatic, but if being late for work is detrimental to your position, it’s time to summon the devil and make up a horrid lie. Explaining that a family member passed away late last night or early this morning is a believable way to cover up your tardiness. No boss will question this personal issue. Just make sure to put on your best poker face when reciting the story.

14. ‘I was called into school’

Another white lie that will sound like a meaningful reason for being late. If you have kids, tell your manager that the headteacher called you to come and collect your child – either for being unruly or because they got sick. Suck up to your boss by adding in, ‘As a fellow parent, I really hope you understand.’ Argh, kids these days!

15. ‘My house got burgled’

Yes, this may be dramatic, but it’s better than telling your boss that you wasted time talking to your friend on the phone! Channel your best Meryl Streep and explain that your house was burgled in the early hours of the morning and you had to wait for the police to arrive and take fingerprints. Tragic.

16. ‘I had a car accident’

This cover up will make total sense when you arrive one hour late to work on a Monday morning. You don’t have to exaggerate this excuse – just inform your employer that someone hit the back of your car on the way to work and you had to wait for the insurance to turn up and sort out the issue.

17. ‘It’s personal’

Sometimes, you don’t need a full-blown cover story to explain why you’re late. Simply tell your manager that you were held up for ‘personal reasons’. Mention that a sensitive issue arose overnight and you’d rather not talk about it. Hopefully, your boss doesn’t pester you to explain, but otherwise, ‘it’s personal’ sounds like a pretty good reason to let you off.

18. ‘I got splashed by a puddle’

Argh, those inconsiderable drivers. It’s raining, you have to walk to work, and a car drives by and boom, you get splashed by a passing car. Well, that only means you’ll have to head back home for an outfit change. This excuse is better than saying you were abducted by aliens.

19. ‘I lost my car keys’

Arriving on time is one of the best ways to prove your workplace professionalism . But sometimes, kids happen. Running late because you like to sleep in ? Try to give the excuse that your troublesome kids lost your car keys and you spent half an hour searching for them before the commute to work.

20. ‘I have bad cramps’

Sometimes, being a woman has its perks. Telling your boss that you’re running late due to severe menstruation cramps is a way to soften them up. If your manager is a man, he’ll probably feel quite uncomfortable discussing it, and if it’s a woman, well, she understands your pain. Females – we’ve got the Trump card!

Final thoughts

Life happens and, well, you’re late. It happens to the best of us. Just don’t make it a habit and instead, practice good work etiquette by making yourself punctual. If running late is indeed something you can’t help, with our list, we hope you don’t run out of excuses!

Have you ever used any good excuses when you were running late for work? Let us know what they are by commenting in the section below.





20 Best Excuses To Give When You’re Late For Work

Conrad Davis

If you are late for work, it’s best to tell your boss the truth and get the situation under control early on. But there might be situations where telling a little white lie is a better solution to the problem.

For example, suppose you accidentally spend 30 mins catching up on your new favorite show instead of getting ready on time. In that case, you cannot expect your boss to be understanding about such a situation.

It’s always good to give a valid excuse for why you’re late to work. Therefore, we have compiled 20 best excuses for being late to work to help you in these situations.

Sickness In The Family

Sickness In The Family

Taking care of a sick person in the family is a valid excuse for being late to work. Your employer will often show sympathy if you say that a family member is not doing well.

It is best to let your boss know about the situation as soon as possible so that they know you’re late for a valid reason. Of course, sometimes the ailments might be sudden, so you may not have the time to inform your supervisor at work, but when you can, and if possible, always let them know in advance that you’re running late.

Finding A Babysitter For The Kids

Finding A Babysitter For The Kids

This is also another excuse that works well with bosses. If you are a parent of toddlers, you probably need a babysitter all the time while you’re at work.

Your nanny might have caught a cold or have a personal emergency preventing them from coming over to look after your kids. Finding a last-minute babysitter is a massive task that any parent understands.

If your boss is also a parent, maybe they will understand your issue at a greater length and let you off the hook. Just remember to inform them in advance so that you can work from home or take the day off if you are unsuccessful in finding a babysitter.

There Was A Lot Of Traffic

There Was A Lot Of Traffic

One of the most common excuses people use for being late to work. Since a considerable portion of the population is trying to get to work or school simultaneously, there is a lot of chance for high traffic, which ultimately makes you arrive late to work.

It’s also a situation that is out of your and your boss’ control, so your employer has no reason to question your lateness in working.However, while the situation can be actual, it’s often so overused that most people don’t buy it. So, it is best to be very frugal with this excuse, so your boss trusts you whenever you use the traffic excuse.

The more frequently you use this excuse, the more the possibility that your boss will think you’re lying to get out of your unprofessional tardy behavior.Make use of this excuse only when it is necessary.

Car Problems

Car Problems

Almost everyone these days takes their vehicle to work. It’s almost impossible to find someone who does not commute to work via car, so if your car breaks down suddenly, it can be a valid excuse to be late for work.

This is typically one of the more believable excuses you can make since anyone who owns a car knows how much of an issue this causes. Hence your boss will believe you when you make this excuse.

There are so many problems that can occur when you have a car. From changing a punctured tire to a broken seat belt or an engine that won’t start, unforeseen problems can occur in the morning, potentially making you late for work.

Remember to let your boss know about the delay if you have the time to explain while taking care of the problem.

Getting Pulled Over By The Police

Getting Pulled Over By The Police

You could very well be on your way to work on time but got late because of the law. And this is as perfect an excuse as any to give. Especially given that you can’t just disobey an officer of the law, you had to stop when asked and wait while the police explained the reasons to you.

If you’re making this excuse as part of a white lie, make sure you avoid telling them that you were stopped for running a red light. In most places, traffic signals have cameras that record you as you speed past the stop signal. So, your employer might ask for proof.

Instead, say that you were pulled over for no reason or were part of random checks on the highway. This lets you get away with showing proof of tickets or other documentation to support your story. Know your rights before you make the excuse of getting pulled over by a cop so you know exactly what to say to your boss.

You Were Feeling Sick

You Were Feeling Sick

Illness is also one of the excuses that you can get away with, with virtually no repercussions. It’s something that you can never predict, so for those mornings that you don’t feel like going to work, your sickness can be used as a reason to stay out of the office.

However, telling your supervisor or boss that you cannot come to work because you’re feeling ill is best. You can throw in some of the symptoms you’re feeling to make it more valid.

In most cases, your employer will ask you not to come to work until you feel better for your own sake and the office. No one wants their office to be contaminated with a contagious sickness that can put many workers out of the office for a few days.

If you’re just late, you can tell your manager that you woke up feeling nauseous or had a terrible headache, so you had to wait for your body to feel better before coming to work.

Your Pet Ran Away From Home

Your Pet Ran Away From Home

Every pet parent knows how frustrating it can be when you’re just trying to get to work on time but get dragged because you must run after your dog or cat that ran out while grabbing your keys.

While it might sound a little unprofessional and odd, it’s still a valid reason why you would be late to work. Especially if you know that your boss is also a pet lover, this excuse works excellently.

Make sure you don’t randomly bring up this excuse at your convenience. This type of excuse works best if your boss already knows that you have a pet and are accustomed to you talking about your pet at work.

You can also use the excuse of your pet falling sick or getting lost as an excuse to get out of work. Maybe you must go out and paste missing posters of your pet or take them to the vet. These are all legit excuses that you can give your employer.

You Lost Your Bag, Purse, Or Wallet

You Lost Your Bag, Purse, Or Wallet

On your way home from work the day before, you might have run into some bad company and got your wallet or bad stolen. Perhaps, you left it in the cab or the train, and now you must trace it by going to the transportation office.

This can cause a significant barrier in your morning routine, eventually causing your lateness to work. Maybe you can’t even afford to get to work since your wallet and cards were all stolen or lost.

If this is a legit excuse, tell your employer or anyone at the office you can get in touch with about your situation. It’s better to have the news transmitted to someone at the office so if you’re missing from work in the morning, someone can inform your boss on your behalf.

If you’re looking for an excuse for being late, you don’t have to mention that you lost your wallet because then you must keep up with the lie and give fresh updates about your quest to find your lost items.

Instead, mention that you lose your house keys or your car keys. These are lost items that are important enough for you to miss work but also not so severe that you will have to file a police complaint and go through a whole ordeal.

There Was A Problem With The Plumbing

There Was A Problem With The Plumbing

Plumbing problems are indeed a big problem that you cannot ignore. The worst part is that it can happen at any time. A burst pipe is a sudden and undoubtedly frustrating event that can take up a big chunk of your day if you must take care of it on your own.

You might even call a plumber or a handyperson to come to fix it, but now you have to wait for them to show up and leave so that you can lock your doors and get to work.

This right here is a classic legit excuse for being late to work. These are circumstances that are unavoidable and hence, valid.This excuse works with gas leakages, holes in the roof, blocked driveways, you name it. All home emergencies are ground for valid excuses for being late to work.

If you know that you’re going to be late, always let your employer know as soon as possible so they can arrange for a substitute in case you have important meetings at work.

Lousy Weather Conditions Preventing You From Getting To Work On Time

Lousy Weather Conditions Preventing You From Getting To Work On Time

Weather is also another common unpredictable force of nature. You might have enjoyed a bright and sunny day yesterday, but today might be filled with thunder, clouds, and rain.

This can cause significant issues on your way to work with the traffic and road conditions. Especially in the case of a storm, there might even be roadblocks or flooding in some areas that prevent you from taking your usual route to work.

Bad weather conditions are an excellent excuse for being late to work. As long as you know that your boss lives far away from you, you can always come up with climate change excuses that will get you out of trouble most of the time.

Death Of A Loved One

Death Of A Loved One

Death can creep up on us unknowingly. And it’s primarily a sensitive topic when it happens to a family member or a close loved one. Usually, when there is a death in the family, you get to request time off work so that you can focus on healing and being with the family.

It’s quite a dramatic excuse, but it’s still valid. However, for moral and ethical reasons, it’s best to keep this one for the genuine excuses list instead of something that you throw on your boss whenever you’re late for work.

If you use this excuse, your boss will surely not question anything since it’s a situation where you need to show a lot of sympathy and support.

Public Transport Issues

Public Transport Issues

If you’re someone who takes public transportation to commute to work, the bus or subway breaking down or being out of order is a great excuse. Because then you have to deviate from your usual routine and find an alternative to get to work. This will surely cost you valuable time and make you late for work.

In some cases, you might even find no better alternatives to get to work, so you can inform your boss about the situation and get out of work for that day. These are problems beyond your control, so it makes no sense for your employer to trouble you with scolding or get reprimanded for your actions.

Your House Was Robbed Or Burgled

Your House Was Robbed Or Burgled

Getting your house burgled sounds like an excellent excuse to be late for work. This calls for a significant law enforcement intervention, so only use this excuse when it’s real.

The police could come to your house early the following day, assuming that your house was robbed at night. They might spend some time asking you questions and thoroughly investigating the house.

This will probably take up a lot of time, so you can call your boss or leave an email stating why you are not at work on time.

You could dig a giant hole if you lie about this and have to keep lying to make up for the first one until it’s too difficult to keep up with it. So it’s best to leave this one for genuine excuses.

You Had A Doctor’s Appointment

You Had A Doctor's Appointment

Everyone agrees that health is wealth, so if you have to meet with your doctor before you get to the office, your employer should have no problem excusing you for being late with such an excuse.

Since a doctor’s office operates around the same time as an office and would, it makes sense that your doctor’s appointment would coincide with your office hours.

The only thing you must remember is that doctor’s appointments are usually made days in advance, so you must inform your boss that you’ll be coming in late on the day of the appointment.

Also, it’s understandable even if you’re late for work since hospitals tend to have massive crowds or long waiting lists.

You Were In A Car Accident

You Were In A Car Accident

If you’re like one of the many people who drive to work, this is an incident that can happen to you anytime. Even if you don’t drive your car, The cab you take or the bus could get into an accident, and you’ll have to deal with your boss at work for being late.

Being in a car accident is as good an excuse as any other for your lateness. You don’t have to go as far as to claim the accident as fatal, but you have to take care of the damages, check for any injuries and maybe help anyone else involved in the accident.

This could take up a lot of your time, so make sure you call your boss and let them know your situation.

You Lost Your Car Keys

You Lost Your Car Keys

How would you get to work without the car keys supposed to get you to work? So, then you might have to find another way to reach the office, which will take up a little time from your usual morning routine.

You could say that you lost your keys the previous day or couldn’t find them in the morning. Or that you have been looking for the lost car keys at home for a long time.It’s not an absurd excuse to give, especially if you have pets or little children at home who are just being playful and mischievous with household things.

You Had To Visit Your Child’s School

You Had To Visit Your Child's School

Another perfect excuse for being late to work is saying that you are called into your child’s school. Being there for your family, especially the kids, is a significant value that people uphold.

So when you use this excuse, your manager will probably understand the situation because you must put your family first.

Perhaps your child was sick or was having a hard time in school, or there was an incident that needed your attention. All these are valid reasons why you might be called into school and an excellent example of a valid excuse for being late to work.

You Had To Deal With A Personal Problem

You Had To Deal With A Personal Problem

The one excuse that works the best without having to look around your brain for a foolproof plan is saying that you had some personal issues to deal with.

You are not obligated to tell your boss everything that is going on in your life. So whenever there is an issue in your personal life that you have to deal with and might potentially make you late for work, you can tell your boss the same.

Hopefully, if your boss understands, there will be no further questions. Vague excuses like these aren’t always the best way to go about but once or twice is okay.

You Got Your Period And Have Terrible Cramps

You Got Your Period And Have Terrible Cramps

This excuse is one of the more controversial ones since it’s an excuse only valid for women who menstruate. With all the negative feelings and symptoms associated with period and period cramps , the one good thing you could get out of it is an excuse for missing work or coming in late.

It’s also a natural human process, so there’s no need for your boss to double down and ask you tons of questions about your situation.

Especially if you are known for taking leaves throughout the year for your period pain and cramps, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to your boss if you have to take another leave.

But use this excuse wisely because you might need it when the time comes, but if you’ve already used it for another day, you may have to think of a new excuse for a real issue.

If you’re having trouble staying focused at work, check out these tips to help you concentrate more.

Your Clothes Got Drenched Because Of A Puddle

Your Clothes Got Drenched Because Of A Puddle

This might sound like a silly excuse, but it’s not something uncommon. If it had rained the previous day, there could be huge puddles of rainwater retention on the sides of the road. Inconsiderate drivers could’ve driven past them and showered you with a huge splash of puddle water. Now you have to go back into your house and change.

So, you see, it’s a valid situation, and your boss will probably be open to excusing you for your tardiness, given the situation.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to be late. It happens to everyone. It just might become a problem if you make it into a habit and now you are known as the one who is always late.

While it is good practice to try not to be late for work, some days, you can’t help it. And these days, you want to make sure that you have a few excuses at your disposal that you know will help and will get you out of a sticky situation.

Check out this article if you want to learn more about excuses to get out of work .

Is It Considered Unprofessional If I Am Late To Work?

This depends on your work culture, but in most cases, being late is considered an unprofessional trait that is against the ethics of the workplace.

If you are always late for work, it gives people a negative impression of you, so you might be considered ill-fitted for the job. Your superiors and colleagues will probably find it disrespectful if you constantly make them wait for you.

What Happens When You’re Late To Work?

When you’re late to your job, your work piles on, you are left with less time to complete more tasks, and you disturb the teamwork ecosystem by delaying the process.

If you work in the customer service industry, your customer won’t appreciate you being late to work just as much as your employer, resulting in losing loyal clients. You also get in the bad books of everyone at your office, which might not be suitable for your personal and professional life.

Is Being Late To Work Justifiable?

When you have a valid excuse for your lateness to work, for example, bad weather, car accident, illness in the family, etc., it is understandable to run late for work. However, repeated late arrivals to work might look bad on your reputation as an employee of a company that follows strict professional rules and conduct.

Even if you’re late to work, you should be able to cover your end of the responsibilities without causing a cascading problem pyramid because of your delay.

Can A Company Fire You If You’re Late To Work?

A company can fire you based on your delay. If you think about it, a company can fire you for several reasons as long as they adhere to the company code of conduct.

In most cases, when a company fires someone for being late, the behavior is repeated often, and the employers see no improvement even over some time.

Is It Disrespectful If I Am Late All The Time?

Yes. Many people consider being late to work as a sign of disrespect. They might think that you think their time is not as important as yours, which looks arrogant and rude.

What Exactly Does It Mean To Be Tardy At The Workplace?

Employees of a company are expected to be at their workstations at a specific time and sit for the number of hours they are expected to work for the day. You are being tardy when you don’t meet these requirements, or you’re late to these already set timings.

It can be your late arrival to work in the morning or even taking longer than the specified time to return from your lunch break.

Is It That Important To Reach On Time To Work?

One of the most common requirements in most workplaces is that you need to be at the office on time. When met, it is a simple yet essential requirement that shows you respect the company policies, your colleagues, and your superiors.

It also makes you look good in front of fellow employees and your managers, who might put in a good word for you and boost your workplace success.

Can Late People Become Successful In Life?

A few research studies point to the findings that latecomers are usually more optimistic than people who arrive on time. Hence, they have a higher chance of success because of their happy-go-lucky personalities. The studies believe that latecomers tend to have a more positive outlook in life, fitting in more tasks to do throughout the day, eventually making them late for work.

Top tips to cut down your small business energy bill

Top 10 hr strategies that work, conrad davis.

Hi there! I'm Conrad Davis, a writer for online blogs and an author. I love reading books, especially biographies and autobiographies. I'm always looking for a good story to sink my teeth into, and I love learning new things from different perspectives.

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20+ Believable Excuses for When You’re Running Late

Last Updated: December 25, 2022

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden . Hannah Madden is a writer, editor, and artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. In 2018, she graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Hannah enjoys writing articles about conservation, sustainability, and eco-friendly products. When she isn’t writing, you can find Hannah working on hand embroidery projects and listening to music. This article has been viewed 26,031 times. Learn more...

Running late for work? We’ve all been late before, but sometimes, the real reason you’re late isn’t actually that good of an excuse. That’s where we’ve got you covered: we’ve got 20+ best excuses for being late to work that your boss will totally buy. Read through our list to pick out your favorite excuse today.

Things You Should Know

“I’m stuck in traffic.”

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“The bus broke down.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 2

“I had car trouble.”

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“I lost my car keys.”

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“I lost my wallet.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 5

“I got pulled over.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 6

“I was in a car accident.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 7

“The weather was really bad.”

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“I overslept.”

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“I had a dentist appointment.”

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“I had to drop my child off at school.”

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“My babysitter was late.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 12

“My child is sick.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 13

“My pet is sick.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 14

“My pet ran away.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 15

“I was sick.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 16

“My water pipes burst.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 17

“I was robbed.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 18

“My home was burglarized.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 19

“I had a family emergency.”

Image titled Excuses for Being Late to Work Step 20

“I had a death in the family.”

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Expert Q&A

good excuses for late to work

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Best and Worst Excuses for Being Late to Work

The Balance

Best Excuses for Being Late to Work

Don’t use these strange excuses, more bizarre excuses to avoid.

Sometimes, you just can’t help being late for work. Stuff happens, things go wrong, and it can be hard to get out of the house to arrive at work in a timely manner. It happens to almost everyone at one time or another, so be prepared to handle it appropriately. Depending on your manager, it might not matter—or it could be a big deal.

There are lots of excuses for missing work , either for taking a day off or for coming in late. Some excuses are legitimate, such as when a babysitter cancels at the last minute, you or a family member are sick, or your car doesn't start. Other excuses, however, are just too bizarre.

Even if you’ve run out of excuses, there are some reasons that you shouldn’t use when you’re telling your boss why you’re running late.

A survey conducted by CareerBuilder finds that some excuses for missing work are more popular than others. Traffic, sleep schedules, and weather conditions are the top three. Being tired and forgetful round out the top five reasons for being tardy.

Other excuses that work well include having an appointment, a sick child, a school delay, car trouble, mass transit delays, a family emergency or illness, house problems, or waiting for a service person for repairs.

There were also some strange excuses in the latest survey. Even though they are creative, these excuses probably won’t work with your boss or manager.

Other excuses reported in an earlier survey were as equally weird:

What to Do When Excuses Don't Work

Even though you think it might be acceptable to be late once in a while, your boss might not agree. At some point, you may run out of reasonable excuses to use.

The majority of employers (60%) say they expect employees to be on time every day, and 43% have fired someone for being late, up from 41% the previous year.

If you’re late on a regular basis, figure out how you can change your morning routine so you can make it to work on time. It could be as simple as showering at night instead of in the morning, getting up 15 minutes earlier, taking a train that’s a few minutes earlier than you usually do, or packing your lunch the evening before.

Tips for Giving Excuses When You're Running Late

If you have run out of excuses, think twice before you decide to get creative. Keep in mind the following advice about giving excuses for missing work:

Let your boss know ASAP: If you know in advance that you will need to take a personal day, let your boss know in person or via email as soon as possible. If it is a last-minute decision, contact your boss as early in the morning as you can. If possible, offer to come in early or stay late to make up for some of the hours lost.

Be (mostly) honest: There is a good chance that a bald-faced lie to your supervisor, colleagues, or clients will come back to bite you. It's not always easy to remember what you said to whom, and getting caught in a lie is not good for job security. Some employers also follow up with employees to see whether they are lying. Therefore, if you can, be honest about why you are missing work or coming in late.

Don’t overshare: An overly detailed excuse might sound fake, even if it isn’t. And if you are missing work for a reason you cannot share with your boss—for example, if you are interviewing for another job —you can keep the interview secret without lying. A simple excuse—for example, saying you have an appointment (which you do!)—will be honest without raising questions.

While honesty is often the best policy, always keep your excuse simple, and don’t go into detail.

Use excuses sparingly: Things happen that are out of our control—we get sick, we get a flat tire, our child’s school cancels. However, try your best to excuse yourself from work only when absolutely necessary—otherwise, your employer and co-workers may consider you unreliable.

Be thoughtful about when you skip work: If it is at all in your control to select when you skip work —such as when you have a doctor’s appointment—try to plan a time when your absence will not be so perceptible.

You might try to make the appointment at the beginning of the day, or toward the end of the day, so you are still at work for a solid few hours. If you need to leave early, here are some excuses to use —and not to use. Whenever possible, try to come in early or stay late to make up for the lost time.

good excuses for late to work

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Good and Bad Excuses for Being Late to Work

We've all been late to work. It happens to everyone at some point. Usually, it's OK. People understand. But every once in a while, your boss will want an explanation, which may leave you scrambling for good excuses to call off work last minute.

Most of the time when people are late, the excuses are pretty common:

No doubt your boss has heard a lot of excuses over the years, but your reputation at work can dictate whether you get the benefit of the doubt when offering up a unique explanation. Whether your boss believes you or not depends on your general work ethic and past experience.

But sometimes the story gets so strange it can make it harder to believe. Here are some of the stranger excuses for being late to work that employees have used in the past, according to Monster insiders:

Is Honesty the Best Policy?

Everybody’s human and makes mistakes, so rather than inventing good excuses to call off work last minute, own up to your goof and move on. If you're late, be honest . Did you oversleep or forget to set the alarm? Did your kid make you run late? Integrity is key. When you lie, you break that trust and that will upset an employer even more.

It’s important to apologize as well. Acknowledge that you understand it sets a bad example and impacts the team, and that you are taking steps to address the situation. This is better than spewing out nonsense excuses. Let your manager know that you understand the implications and have a strategy to fix the issue. Besides, chronic lateness can end up hurting you in the long run.

Do the Reasons for Being Late Even Matter?

We at Monster have heard a lot of excuses why people are late to work, from menstrual cramps and carpool problems to car trouble and family emergency excuses. To some bosses, the reasons you're late for work are not important because sometimes completely legitimate reasons are also private, personal matters. And these reasons may cause an employee to lie so as not to share these intimate details.

Ask yourself if your boss maybe rather not know the reason and instead focus on whether your lateness is a chronic issue.

Wait, Why Are You Late to Work— Really ?

Maybe the real reason you're looking for good excuses to call off work last minute is because you don't like your job. It may be time to find a new job rather than a new excuse for your tardiness. Could you use help getting started? Make a free profile on Monster , and we can help you find a job you enjoy. Frankly, you've got no excuse not to.

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12 Good Excuses for Being Late to Work

good excuses for late to work

Anyone can be late to work at least once in awhile. When the boss asks for an explanation, it’s best to simply be honest and to apologize, instead of making up a strange story that could make everyone at the office question your credibility. However, some situations may demand more than a simple apology, and you will need to find suitable excuses for being late to work.

Here are 12 good excuses for being late to work that you can tell your bosses:

Excuse #1: I overslept

good excuses for late to work

Sometimes, the simplest explanations are the best excuses for being late to work. There are mornings where getting out of bed feels like a challenge. Maybe we are feeling sick, or simply too tired to get up. Maybe we forgot to set an alarm. Maybe we woke up in time, but decided our bed was too comfortable.

No matter the reason why they oversleep, many people use this excuse for being late to work. Just don’t make this a regular habit because it will reflect poorly on your time and attendance tracking at work .

Excuse #2: I had trouble with my car

good excuses for late to work

Car troubles are usually good excuses for being late to work. You’re lucky if you never got late to work because of car-related issues. Whether your car broke down, refused to start, or got a flat tire, you got a good excuse for being late. If this happens to you too often, however, your coworkers will start wondering what kind of crappy car you are driving.

Excuse #3: I got stuck in traffic

good excuses for late to work

Traffic jams happen quite often in the morning, and they are one of the more common excuses for being late to work . After all, everyone is on the road, trying to get to work on time, and perhaps having some problems with their vehicles. When we get stuck in traffic, there is nothing we can do but be patient, and call our boss to let them know we will be late.

Excuse #4: The bus or subway was late

good excuses for late to work

Those who don’t own a car can still be late for work because of commute issues. Once again, if your bus or subway is running late, there is not much you can do. If you are the one constantly missing the bus, however, try to leave your home a little earlier.

Excuse #5: I needed to take my kid to the hospital

good excuses for late to work

Family-related emergencies are often good excuses for being late to work. If you have kids, you know that they can pretty much get sick anytime. Worried parents don’t care about being late to work when they have to take their son or daughter to the hospital as soon as possible. If your boss also has kids, he or she will understand.

Excuse #6: I woke up with a terrible migraine

good excuses for late to work

If you’ve already had a migraine, you know how terrible it is. If the migraine lasts through the night, and only starts easing in the morning, it can be a perfect excuse for being late to work. If the migraine lasts all day long, it could even be an excuse for staying home.

Excuse #7: I thought today was Saturday

good excuses for late to work

Telling your boss that you are late because you thought today was Saturday and you didn’t have to go to work might make you look silly, but there are times when we have so many things on our minds we can get confused. Sometimes, we are so excited about the upcoming weekend that we wish we were there already.

Excuse #8: My babysitter called in sick and I had to find someone else

good excuses for late to work

If your babysitter is the one who is sick, and your kids are too young to be left on their own, you need to find a solution. Telling your boss that you are late because your babysitter cancelled at the last minute and you had to find an alternative is a good excuse.

Excuse #9: I had to pick up my parents at the airport

good excuses for late to work

Another good excuse is that your parents, who live far away, came for a visit, but that your brother or sister called you at the last minute to tell you they would not be able to go pick them up at the airport. There are times when we just can’t say no.

Excuse #10: I had an important appointment

good excuses for late to work

Of course, you should try to avoid scheduling appointments during your work hours. But what if you had a dentist’s appointment before going to work, and it lasted longer than you expected? Or perhaps you had a job interview because you are looking for a new job, but maybe you shouldn’t let your boss know just yet.

Excuse #11: I forgot something important and had to go back home

good excuses for late to work

If you forgot your phone or your lunch at home, maybe you will be able to get on with your day without it. But if you realized that you forgot an important document on your kitchen table, you should probably turn back to get it, even if that means being a bit late for work.

Excuse #12: I had a personal emergency

good excuses for late to work

There are moments where we have personal emergencies, and they can be so private that we don’t feel comfortable discussing them with anyone at work. If this happens to you, just be honest and tell your boss that you are late because of some personal and sensitive matter . Vague excuses for being late to work aren’t ideal, but they are sometimes effective in certain situations.

good excuses for late to work

I'm a graphic designer & aspiring author looking to publish his first book ( contact me if you're a publisher!). I'm also a bit of an adventurous spirit. When I'm not writing, you'll probably find me somewhere outside on my trusty mountain bike, being one with nature.

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Hans Herbert

25 best excuses for being late to work (ahh not again).

Being late to work is a frustrating experience. Not only does it make you feel disorganized and frazzled, but it can also set you back for the rest of the day. If you’re frequently running behind, it may be time to re-evaluate your morning routine. However, if you find yourself in a bind, we have compiled a unique list of good excuses for being late to work that may help you save face, and save your job!

Some excuses for being late to work will serve you better than others, it really depends on your situation, what type of work you do, and how forgiving your boss is. For that reason, we think it’s best to list these excuses in specific categories and by the amount of time you’re late by. Being 5 minutes late to work is a lot easier to explain than being by 2 hours!

The best excuses for being late to work

Sometimes the best excuses for being late to work are also the most common excuses. These excuses are probably heard quite often by your boss, regardless if they are true or not.  They are tried and true, and shouldn’t give you much pushback when using them.

1. Your car wouldn’t start.

For this excuse to work, of course, you’ll need to have a car, or a job where driving to work is a thing.  The classic excuse of your car not starting is a good one though and can be used throughout the year. It does not depend on the weather, or time of day.  Car trouble can strike at any moment!

2. There was a delay on the train/bus.

Being stuck on the train or bus is always a good excuse because it happens to everyone, all the time. Chances are if you’re using this as an excuse for being late to work, it’s probably true. Have you ever traveled to a city or country that is immune from delays on public transportation? I didn’t think so!

3. Your alarm didn’t go off.

Perhaps it was daylight savings time, your phone battery died, or you made a mistake setting the alarm. This scenario happens to people all the time and when it does, they need to rely on their internal clock to wake up.  Unfortunately, that internal clock is not always so reliable!

4. You were not feeling well.

Feeling sick in the morning happens to people every day.  Whether it’s physical or mental is another story.  For the sake of this excuse, being physically sick with a stomach bug or a migraine headache is a plausible excuse for being late to work. This excuse is great because you can also use it for leaving work early as well.

5. There was an accident on the way to work.

I f there is a car accident on your way to work, it can severely impact your travel time.  It can affect your travel time not only if you’re driving, but also if you take the bus or any other form of public transportation.  Road closures due to accidents are one of the top reasons people arrive late to work on a consistent basis.

6. Your significant other did not wake you up.

Maybe you and your partner got into an argument the night before and out of spite, they did not wake you up on time.  Perhaps they were too busy themselves and forgot to wake you up.  Either way, you are no longer going to rely on them to be your personal alarm clock!

7. You had to take your kid to school.

Normally, your partner takes your kid to school, but today you had to do it.  Not being fully used to the time it takes or the school route, it took you longer than usual.  Of course, for this excuse to work, you have to actually have kids!

8. Bad weather.

Using the weather as an excuse for being late to work is definitely believable, especially if you live in a region that gets a lot of snow, wind, or rain.  This excuse is harder to pull off if you live in sunny California for example but totally feasible for cities like New York, or even a country like Canada. You have to be careful using this excuse however because your boss is experiencing the same weather conditions most likely and they will know if you are lying rather easily.

Excuses for being 5-10 minutes late to work

1. you had to rush to the bathroom..

E mergencies happen, right? Especially if you ate Chipotle the night before. You were about to leave your house when all of a sudden your stomach started rumbling. Instead of leaving things to chance, you figured it was best to make a pit stop in the bathroom to avoid a potentially messy situation.

2. You accidentally left something on at home and had to head back to make sure it was turned off.

Maybe you left the stove on after you made your breakfast, or forgot to unplug the curling iron after doing your hair.

Sometimes you aren’t exactly sure if you left something on, but either way, it is better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is to come home after a hard day’s work to find your house has burned down.

3. Someone was in your parking spot and it took a while to find another spot.

The audacity of this person! To park in your clearly defined and labeled parking spot is definitely a bold move. A move that has cost you precious time finding a new parking spot and made you late for work.  This excuse is exclusive for working scenarios with reserved parking, so use it at your own discretion!

4. You had to clean up after your child.

Things were running smoothly that morning until your child decided to hurl their half-eaten bowl of cheerios 10 feet across the room. On one hand, you were impressed with their newfound strength and ability to launch the bowl as far as they did, but on the other hand, you are now going to be late for work to clean up their mess.

5. You got stuck at every single red light while driving in.

This seems to happen whenever you’re anxiously trying to get somewhere quickly and voila, today is your lucky day.  Getting caught at a red light in every single intersection on your way to work is out of your control and unfortunately, costs you the time it would have taken to arrive at work on time.

6. There was a long line to get on to the elevator.

Maybe you work in a high-rise building and one of the elevators is out of service. Or perhaps you got unlucky and arrived at work when an uncharacteristically large mob of people showed up slowing everything down.  For the safety of everyone on the elevator, you graciously volunteered to wait for the next ride up.

7. You slipped on some snow/ice when you got outside.

Whenever it snows or is cold outside, you need to be careful, especially if you’re rushing to get to work on time. Today was your unlucky day and your usual precautions self let their guard down and took a tumble on a patch of ice.  Thankfully you were okay and your clothing suffered most of the damage.  As a result, you needed a few extra minutes to clean yourself up.

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Excuses for being an hour late to work.

So you’ve exceeded the acceptable amount of time for being late and the window of simple forgiveness is closing quickly.  Your boss is usually cool with being a few minutes late, but now you’re pushing an hour and you aren’t entirely sure how they will react. Excuses for being an hour late to work will need to be believable. Hopefully, you get a bit of sympathy from your boss at the same time!

1. You hurt yourself at the gym that morning.

Look at you! A real go-getter. Going to the gym in the mornings is commendable because it shows the extra grit and dedication you have for improving your lifestyle.  Unfortunately, this morning was a bit different and you hurt yourself doing a routine exercise.  As a result, you needed to take a bit of extra time stretching and working the area where the injury occurred, thus causing you to be late for work.

2. Your child spilled something all over your clothing.

Laundry day is tomorrow and because of that, you are running low on clean outfits.  Your child obviously knew this and decided to spill his juice all over your fresh pants.  Instead of looking like you peed yourself, you scrubbed out the stain and had to manually dry your pants with a blow dryer.  You would have normally just changed into some new ones, but as mentioned, you had no other clean options!

3. Your elderly parents needed help with something.

Maybe it was to shovel snow from their driveway to pick up a large package or to help clean up the pieces from a giant decorative vase that shattered everywhere. Providing help to your parents while they are in need shows compassion. Your boss will surely understand.

4. Your credit card was compromised.

As you were paying for your morning coffee, you noticed something was wrong with your card.  You spent the next hour on the phone with the credit card company going through security questions and retracing your spending habits. You had to sort this out immediately in fear of a criminal going on a spending spree with your card.

5. You missed your stop on the train or bus.

You got distracted on your way in to work and accidentally missed your stop. Unfortunately, there wasn’t another train/bus coming in the opposite direction for quite some time so you decided to hoof it on foot. This was probably a bad idea because you totally misjudged how long that would take. 

Excuses for being 2+ hours late to work

1. you were mugged..

Getting mugged has to be one of the worst experiences you could ever endure. Luckily for you, the mugger did not rough you up too badly and only stole your cell phone. Traumatizing no less, you decided to suck it up and make it into work like the badass you are.

2. You witnessed a car accident and had to give a report to the police.

You happened to witness a mild fender bender on your way to work.  Even though you did not want to get involved, you happened to be the only other person at the scene, so you felt obliged to give a detailed report to the police offer.

3. Your car ran out of gas.

You saw your tank was empty and thought you could make it to work.  After all, it had been on empty for a couple of days now, but that didn’t stop you from getting back and forth.  However, this morning you really pushed your luck and all the gas fumes dried up. Instead of calling a tow truck, you decided to push your car down a busy street to the closest gas station.  Unfortunately for you, that gas station was further than you anticipated.

4. Family from out of town unexpectedly showed up.

You were about to leave for work when all of a sudden you got a call. It’s your cousins from out of town and they’re at the airport requesting for you to come to pick them up. You haven’t seen them in years and felt compelled to drive completely out of your way to greet them. 

5. You got locked out of your house.

You stepped outside quickly to check the weather and the next thing you know, the door slams behind you, and you’re locked out!  This is a disaster, especially because you’re still wearing your pajamas. You had to knock on your neighbor’s door, borrow their phone, and call a locksmith to get you back inside your home.  

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Worst excuses for being late to work, 1. you are hungover..

Being hungover is not a great look. It may get some sympathy or it might be funny to your friends, but if someone has to pick up the slack while you’re struggling to make it to work because of drinking the night before, your boss and coworkers might get upset if you use this as an excuse, especially if you smell like alcohol .

2. You overslept.

Even though this legitimately might be the reason you’re late to work, it shows that you’re not taking things seriously, especially if oversleeping becomes a pattern.

3. You thought it was the weekend.

Okay, this is a bit funnier, but still not a great excuse to pull out regardless if it’s true or not. If you lose track of time by a full day, it shows that you probably don’t have a good handle on life and cannot be relied upon.

4. You were watching TV and lost track of time.

Yes, TV has never been better. There are hundreds of good quality shows out there, but there is a time and place for slumping into your couch and catching up on the latest episodes. Your boss will show no sympathy with this excuse!

5. You were arrested.

So not only are you late to work, you are also a criminal now apparently. The only scenario where this might be acceptable would be if you’re a rapper late to the studio.

6. You woke up outside your home.

Have you ever gone so hard the night before that you woke up in completely unfamiliar territory? Me neither.  Try to avoid using this excuse unless you want to look like a psychopath.

7. Your partner kicked you out of the house.

Domestic problems are home are common, but they should stay private and not carry over to the work environment. If you and your partner got into such a heated argument that they threw you out of the house, maybe you were the jerk in this scenario.  So, now you’re a jerk at home and at work for being late!

8. You ran out of clean clothing.

If you use this excuse for being late to work, it will make you look lazy.  Too lazy to do your laundry at home probably means you’re also lazy on the job.

9. You have no work to do currently.

Maybe you thought you’d take advantage of the downtime and sleep in because there isn’t much work for you to do right now. What you have done by admitting this is to say that you are expendable. If you use this as an excuse, you better think about finding a new job because chances are you won’t have one for much longer.

10. You aren’t feeling motivated.

This is not what you want to hear as a boss – that your staff is not motivated to do the work and so much so that they are coming in late to work. If you aren’t feeling motivated, you should keep this to yourself and use another excuse and also start looking for a new job!

Reasons for being late to work when you don’t want to give an excuse.

Tips to prevent being late to work, 1. set your alarm appropriately..

This might be the most important thing you can do. Make sure you check that your alarm is set before you go to bed, but also that the alarm is set to give you enough time in the morning if you were to hit snooze a few times.

2. Set ANOTHER alarm if one alarm isn’t enough.

Setting an additional alarm across the bedroom, out of reach is a strategy that will surely get you out of bed if your first alarm fails you. Once you’re up and out of bed to disable the second alarm, you are awake and ready to go.

3. Get enough sleep each night.

Getting the right amount of sleep will help you wake up refreshed and (hopefully) in a good mood to start your day.  Lots of sleep is one of the most important things you can do not only to prevent being late to work, but to improve the quality of your life!

4. Wake up 30-60 minutes earlier so you aren’t rushing in the morning.

If you are constantly rushing through your mornings and still find that you cannot get to work consistently on time, you need to wake up earlier. It’s that simple. Being able to take your time in the mornings can reduce stress and anxiety, and most likely fix your problem of showing up late.

5. Have your partner or a close friend check on you.

It doesn’t hurt to ask your partner, a friend, or a family member to give you a call in the morning to make sure you’re on schedule.  Hopefully, this won’t be a permanent solution, but it can definitely help in the short term.

6. Use a GPS to map out traffic routes ahead of time.

Traffic delays are one of the major reasons for being late to work. By using a GPS app on your phone, you can plot out your path and avoid major roadblocks, accidents, and traffic congestion.

7. Prepare as much as possible the night before.

Make your lunch the night before and plan your outfit for the next day. Put your keys, wallet, purse or bag in a spot close to the door so you aren’t searching for them. These little things can save you a lot of time. It’s always super annoying when you can find your keys or work badge when you’re trying to leave the house. 

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7 Good Excuses for Being Late for Work

7 Good Excuses for Being Late for Work

Updated March 1, 2023

Melissa Reynolds

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No matter how responsible you are, you will likely be late for work at some point in your life.

Being late not only affects your image at work and the trust of your employer, but it can also affect the productivity and working habits of others.

Regardless of why you are late, it is always best to be honest with your supervisor and sincerely apologize.

There are many reasons for running late and several ways to explain why.

Should You Give an Excuse When Late?

Regardless of why you are late, your supervisor deserves some form of explanation and apology . They may have had to make other arrangements to account for your absence and productivity was likely lost.

The most important thing to do is to be honest about why you are late.

Being late, lying and being caught out in your dishonesty only makes the situation worse. It goes against integrity. All employers want employees they can trust .

When possible, let your supervisor know before you arrive at work if something is going to make you late.

For example, if the train you are on breaks down, email, call or text your work as soon as you can. This way, they are less likely to think you are lying.

If your reason is personal, let your supervisor know that. Tell them there is a valid reason why you are late, but it is personal and you do not feel comfortable discussing it, or that you will discuss it with HR separately.

Honestly and an apology will go a long way towards making things right.

7 Good Excuses for Being Late

While there are many reasons why you may be running late for work, there are generally a few that pop up the most often.

Here are some common reasons for lateness and some scripts for explaining them:

1. Public Transport Issues

If you live or work anywhere that relies heavily on mass transit, you may be late for work more than once.

There are many different reasons mass transit can be running behind schedule. These include:

Expecting mass transit to not have any issues during its routes is asking a lot. Try to leave yourself room in your schedule to account for these potential issues, such as by taking an earlier bus.

Example excuses:

I am so sorry, the number 412 bus broke down several blocks south of here. There was not a replacement coming for a while, so I walked, which is why I am late.
I apologize for my lateness, a passenger on the subway became ill and needed medical attention. The subways were stopped while an ambulance came.

These excuses incorporate both a clear, simple explanation of the reason for your lateness, as well as an apology, which indicates you know you may have inconvenienced your supervisor, whether the delay was your fault or not.

If you live in a big city, traffic can mess up your commute in numerous ways. There may be construction, roads closed for various reasons, major events, accidents and bad general congestion.

In some cases, you can plan around traffic delays .

Check the news the evening before and in the morning before you leave for work. Look for announcements of construction, major events or road closures, then plan a different route to avoid them where possible.

Some car accidents that cause tailbacks can be planned around if they happen before you leave and you find out on the news. Again, changing your route to avoid these as much as possible is best, although if many other drivers are also trying to avoid the accident, the congestion may be bad on your alternate route.

Sudden car accidents cannot be planned around. If you can, and only if it is safe to do so and without breaking any traffic laws, use your phone to find an alternate route.

If you do get stuck in traffic, try to contact your supervisor and explain the situation.

Many phones can have hands-free operation set up so you can send a text or make a phone call with your voice. Set this up before you leave for work.

If you are driving, you should never use your hands to operate your phone, especially not to send a text or email that would require you to look away from the road.

Do not make a habit of arriving late to work due to bad traffic – if the congestion regularly becomes bad enough to make you late for work, this needs to be factored into the length of time you allocate yourself for commuting.

My apologies, but I am currently stuck on highway 80 and there is a big accident about a mile ahead that just happened. I will do my best to take a different route as soon as I can. I will call you back when I have a time estimate.
My apologies, I am running about 20 minutes late. I did not realize that today was open house day at the university and the roads nearby are packed with cars. See you very soon.

This first explanation begins with an apology, informs the supervisor of your plan to ameliorate your lateness, then promises future information to them.

This will help ease their anxiety and make you seem more competent at problem-solving and communication .

The second explanation does not offer this but explains the lateness is due to a situation entirely out of your control, one that the supervisor can verify.

Depending on where you live, weather can play a major role in your punctuality in the workplace. Heavy snowfall, ice, rain, fog, extreme cold or heat, flooding and even heavy winds can all play a part in your commute to work.

Sometimes these conditions come on suddenly and there is nothing you can do, but always let your boss know you are stuck and will be late.

Sometimes these events can be predicted, such as a snowstorm, and you can try to give yourself extra time or, if agreed with your supervisor, work from home .

I apologize for getting here late, the fog was so thick this morning, the traffic was crawling along.
I am so sorry, [major intersection] was completely flooded and traffic was diverted through the downtown area. It was very slow-moving, but I finally made it in and am ready to get to work. I will ensure I work my full hours.

Again, these scripts give a succinct reason for your lateness and an apology. Further, the second one emphasizes you are eager to get going with your duties and are willing to make up the time.

Excuses for Being Late for Work

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Illness can never really be predicted. Unless there is stomach flu running through your family, it can take you by surprise.

If you wake in the morning feeling sick, the best thing to do is call or email your boss with your symptoms and stating you will not be able to come in.

Most employers will be happy to keep sickness out of the workplace, especially if you work in the food or hospitality sector, as if you spread the illness to other workers or the customers it may cost the company a lot.

If your supervisor requires a doctor's note, check with human resources as it may not be required until several days are missed.

The time you take off for being sick or caring for a sick family member, whether partial or full days, may be unpaid. You need to check your contract and the local laws of your state .

It may not be your illness that is making you late, but the illness of a member of the family.

For example, sick children cannot go to school or daycare and need to be taken care of. While a babysitter may be an option, it will usually require time to arrange and will still mean you are late for work.

It also may be that your spouse is ill and so you may suddenly need to drop the children off at school or enable your sick spouse to have access to food and drink throughout the day. This may result in you being late.

I have woken up with a sore throat and fever of 102 degrees, I do not think it is a good idea for me to come into the office today, I do not want to spread this around. I will keep you updated on how I am feeling later.
I am sorry, I am going to be about 20 minutes late, my daughter is home sick and I need to wait for childcare to arrive.

These explanations cover the cause of your lateness, and the first one also offers a future course of action to keep the supervisor informed.

5. Losing an Item

Depending on what it is, losing or misplacing an item can really slow you down in the morning.

It could be something simple like your glasses, phone or even lunch. It could be you need to shuffle the kids off to school and they cannot find something such as lunch, homework or a special project.

It could be something more important such as your house or car keys that are missing. In these instances, you really cannot leave the house until they are found.

Simply email or call your boss and explain the situation, without failing to mention that you will be in as quickly as you can.

I apologize; I am going to be about 15 minutes late – I misplaced my car keys. But I have found them now and am headed out the door.
I apologize, my son misplaced his science project and we left for school a bit late this morning. I am on my way and estimate to be there in 15 minutes.

Both these explanations are ones you give once the item has been found and you have a more accurate estimate of how late you will be. Giving your supervisor more information like this enables them to plan around your unexpected absence more easily because they know how long it will likely last.

6. You Overslept

It can happen to anyone. Either you heard the alarm and simply hit the off button, you hit the snooze button one too many times or you simply forgot to set it.

Sometimes it can even be a matter of a storm in the night that knocked the power out.

Regardless of how it happened, everyone has slept in when they should not have. When you do awake to find you are late, let your supervisor know immediately .

Depending on the type of job you have, they may have already arranged for someone to cover you, or you may have to still go in.

I am so sorry; I must have turned off my alarm. I will be in the office within the next hour.
My apologies, the storm last night must have knocked out the power and the alarm did not go off. I am running about 20 minutes behind schedule and will get there as soon as I can.

It is important to let your supervisor know as soon as possible when you have overslept. While the second example here is due to an external factor beyond control, the first example is due to a personal mistake. Therefore, the explanation needs to have a genuine apology and not try to shift the blame to something else.

7. Needed to Arrange Childcare

If you have young children, you likely have school and childcare plans all set. But problems often arise, affecting your ability to get to work on time.

Your child may get sick and therefore cannot go to school or daycare. Or if you rely on a nanny, they may have become ill and so are unable to work.

Do your best to find some childcare and explain it to your supervisor. If you cannot find childcare, it may be an option to work from home or take annual leave.

Unfortunately, my child's nanny has woken up quite sick and cannot look after her today. I have called my sister who can babysit for the day and will leave as soon as she arrives. I will update you on times once she gets here. In the mean time, I am checking my emails from home if you need anything.
Both of my children woke up with a bad cold. I have a nanny who can come; she is due to arrive in 10 minutes. I will leave then and should only be about 30 minutes late.

Both these scripts give explanations of how you will solve the childcare problem, which helps give the impression that the unexpected situation is under control.

How to Handle Being Late

It is never good to be late, but how you handle it can make a big difference.

There are several steps you can take to make sure you make the right impression with your supervisor:

Step 1. Estimate How Late You Will Be

It is not only a good idea but also necessary to give your supervisor an idea of how late you will be. If you work a job that someone else could do, they may need to look for a replacement if you are going to be extremely late.

Be realistic about how late you will be. While it may sound good to say you will only be 15 minutes, if you are not able to meet that time frame, do not promise it.

Habitually making promises you can not keep lessens people’s trust in you. Lay out what the issue is and why it will take you a certain amount of time to get to work.

Step 2. Communicate Early and Directly

Do not wait until you are already late to contact your supervisor. Make contact as soon as you realize that there is a problem and it is possible to do so.

Do not rely on a co-worker to pass on the message either. It can get mixed up or forgotten. Make direct contact yourself to explain the situation.

Step 3. Be Honest, Concise and Sincere

Even if you think a different excuse might sound better than the truth, be honest with your supervisor. They will appreciate your honesty and a sincere apology.

Conciseness is also important as your supervisor likely feels work time has already been wasted by your unexpected lateness. Therefore, do not say more than you need to or use the time to rant about the stituation.

Step 4. Apologize in Person

Once you have arrived at work, make a point to find your supervisor and apologize in person.

Not only does it serve to let them know that you have arrived, but it shows you took the lateness seriously enough to apologize face-to-face.

Step 5. Address Your Responsibilities

Any kind of lateness will likely affect the duties you need to accomplish in your job.

When you are late, it is important to assess what you are now behind on and prioritize what needs to be taken care of first .

It is also very possible that your lateness has affected the productivity of others.

Check with your co-workers to find out what they need from you and get it to them as soon as you can.

Step 6. Communicate Future Intentions

You want to make sure your supervisor knows that this late incident will not become a regular occurrence .

Either speak directly with your supervisor or communicate by email that you are aware of the lateness and will do your best to make sure it does not happen again.

Briefly explain any plans to reduce the chances of future lateness.

Step 7. Thank Them

Your boss is only obligated to do as much as the law requires, so if they are more understanding or lenient than that, be sure to show your thanks.

Step 8. Follow Up

It can be a good idea to follow up with an email once you are back at work . A simple email that says thank you for understanding and you will do your best to not be late again. Also, if it is not possible to see your supervisor in person, this can let them know you have arrived.

Step 9. Make up the Time

Any kind of lateness likely has an impact on your productivity and possibly others as well.

Ask your supervisor if they would like you to make up the time – if you were only 20 minutes late, they may not mind, but if it was more in the vicinity of two hours, they may want you to finish some work after you would normally leave for home.

This is not always possible, particularly if you rely on mass transit, but there may be other ways to balance it.

Do’s and Don’ts

There are a few things that are important to remember when making your excuse:

Do be honest about why you are late. A lie simply makes the situation much worse.

Do not suck up to your supervisor by bringing coffee or treats to sway their feelings your way. In the worst case, this could be seen as bribery, which is illegal. In the best, it could damage their respect for you as it shows you do not believe in your explanation to be sufficient or perhaps even valid.

Do not distract the rest of the staff with dramatic renditions of why you are late or distrupt things by making a flamboyant or noisy entrance. They have work to do too. Save that for break times.

Do acknowledge that being late is your responsibility rather than passing the blame to someone or something else.

Final Thoughts

Being late for work is never ideal, but it happens to everyone. How you deal with it can easily make an awkward situation better.

First, remember to always be honest about why you are late. Explain your situation, give a clear estimate of how late you will be and acknowledge that you will need to catch up, so you do not affect the productivity of your fellow employees.

Following these steps and the others outlined above should help you deal with any lateness situation.

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You might also be interested in these other WikiJob articles:

How to Call in Sick to Work in {YEAR}

Or explore the Features / Useful Resources sections.

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20 Best and Worst Excuses for Being Late to Work

Sometimes, you are simply not able to come to work on time . There might be some obstacles that you cannot overcome and these moments are usually difficult. But what to tell your boss in these situations?

You should have good excuses for being late for work , and these excuses should be good enough for your boss to believe in them. In the text below, we talk about the best excuses for being late to work and how to tell them to your boss. 

1. Traffic 

One of the most common excuses for being late is traffic. There might be too many cars in the line and the traffic jam is hard to escape. If there are too many cars in front of you, you should call your boss and explain the situation. He or she will understand the situation, especially if the boss takes the same route to the job. 

If your boss is angry about your lateness or he does not believe you, then you can take a photo of the traffic collapse and show them when you get to the office. Some situations are simply not under your control. The traffic is one of the believable excuses for missing work. 

2. Bad weather 

All of us can experience bad weather during the day. This can stop us from coming on time to the place where we work. If there is rain or a heavy show, we cannot be sure if we can get to work on time. In these situations, we should call the boss and tell them about the harsh weather conditions. 

If the boss lives in a nearby area, he or she will be affected by the same conditions. There is nothing else to do than wait for the bad weather to stop and go out of the home a little later than usual. This is one of the good reasons for being late. 

3. A broken car

Sometimes, car trouble is one of the believable excuses to escape from the office late arrival horrors. It is a common possibility and works for nearly half the population, all the time.

A broken car belt, punctured tire or even a smoking engine could concern you in the morning and cause delays at work. Probably your boss, at some point might have had the same experience someday and so, it’s an easy slip to get late for work.  

best excuses for being late at work

Use these excuses wisely; too much of anything is bad for you.

Acceptable Excuses for Being Late to Work

Some of the other good excuses for being late for work are presented below:

Most Ridiculous Excuses for Being Late to the Office  

Besides good excuses for being late for work, there are also the worst excuses for being late for work that will sound weird and unbelievable. Let’s see what not to tell your boss when you are late to work. 

All of the mentioned coming late to office reasons are good if some of them really happened to you. You should be honest and admit if there are good reasons for being late. Tell your reason and expect an understandable attitude from your boss. At least you can be honest. 

good excuses for late to work

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