With the ongoing train strikes, it is likely that some schools are experiencing problems with employees being late for work on an occasional or frequent basis. A rare or odd occasion of lateness can be acceptable, particularly where the employee has a valid reason for being late, such as childcare issues or their train being cancelled. However, persistent lateness can disrupt workplace operation and overall productivity, as well as having an impact on pupil learning.
Persistent lateness can affect workplace morale by co-workers becoming increasingly frustrated by having to cover for others or picking up the consequences of the individual being late. Overall culture can also be affected where it is seen as acceptable to be late.
Trust may also be lost in an employee who is consistently late which could lead to a reduction in responsibilities or opportunity for growth within the school. This could result in resentment from the employee and possible grievances being raised.
If an employee’s lateness starts to become an issue, an informal discussion should be held with the employee to understand any underlying reasons and to remind them of the importance of getting to work on time. Employment contracts should set out clearly individuals’ start time. Policies should explain what is expected in terms of punctuality and the consequences for being late.
Should an employee continue to be late, disciplinary proceedings may be instigated which may result in a formal written warning being issued. In extreme cases, where lateness continues, termination of employment may be considered following a fair and reasonable disciplinary process.
If lateness is due to specific challenges such as a disability, support should be offered and reasonable adjustments considered where necessary. Start and end times may be adjusted to assist the employee in managing their time better. It is important that employers treat all employees consistently and fairly when it comes to lateness to avoid any claims for victimisation or discrimination.
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