Top 10 Excuses for Being Late for Work

First things first, we don’t recommend any of the excuses in this post! They are meant as a light-hearted look at the excuses used by employees to get out of turning up to work on time. Instead, we recommend good time management.

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Getting in late to the office usually leads to grief from your manager. Perhaps understandably, they want to know why you weren’t sitting at your desk at 9am, or preferably 8.30, and full of the joys of spring. You need an excuse: a good one.  The problem is, most of them have been used before and are about as transparent as the guilty look on your face. You need something better.

Here we bring you five classic excuses, followed by five for use only in extreme situations:

Classic excuse: Traffic problems

Here’s an easy one to get you started.  This one is believable because it happens to everyone now and again – as long as you don’t drive the same route as your manager!  The best tactic is to vary the specific reasons – road works, an accident, unexplained tailbacks – and throw in some added extras such as a mangled Ford or a contra-flow system.

A word of warning though – don’t overdo the details or you’ll having the boss scanning the news for more!

Success probability: 7/10

Classic excuse: Overslept

Let’s be honest, this one will only work once or twice.  It’s more likely to make your boss angry because it’s within your control to prevent it.  Unless of course you can add in a creative twist – a freak electrical storm caused a power cut and your alarm didn’t go off; your drink was spiked the night before in an hilarious prank; you child was ill during the night and kept you awake.

It’s hard to disprove this one, but you should only use it sparingly otherwise it will start to wear thin very quickly.

Success probability: 8/10 (reduce by one each time you use)

Having problems managing time at work? Try these productivity tips.

Classic excuse: Lost keys/wallet

The main benefit of this one is that it’s virtually impossible to disprove. On the other hand you’re going to look a bit careless, especially if you use it often. Rely on it too much and you’ll find yourself being told you don’t need your wallet for a day in the office, or to get a spare set of keys for just such a situation. If that ever happens, it’s game over…

Success probability: 6/10

Classic excuse: Trains

Everyone knows the trains never run on time.  And even when they leave on time there’s no guarantee that the track won’t get too wet/icy/dry/cold/hot/bored and delay the train en-route.  It’s a classic excuse which has stood the test of time for more than 150 years.  Well, almost.

There is one area to beware: your boss can now look online and check the progress of your train if he knows which one you are travelling on.

Success probability: 7/10

Classic excuse: Stopped to help someone

This is the ultimate moral high-ground excuse. You stopped whilst on your way to work to help someone in need – an elderly person who suffered a fall; a flustered mother with a flat tyre; someone struggling to manage heavy luggage.

It would take a really hard-nosed boss not to accept this corker of an excuse – you were only late because of your self-sacrificing and kind-hearted personality.  And if they do protest, you can go into overdrive with your moral soap-box, complaining about the value of being a neighbourly citizen and doing good deeds.

Success probability: 9/10

Extreme excuse: Attacked by a swarm of bees

This will work nicely, with one potential snag – you may have to engineer an actual attack by an actual real-life swarm of bees.  Or, have access to a highly skilled make-up artist. Assuming success is guaranteed – and with your resourcefulness, who’s to say it isn’t? – You might even be able to blag yourself a few days off to recover along with some brownie points for attempting to come to work anyway.

Success probability: 3/10

Extreme excuse: Escaped lion roaming the streets

Ok, so this is a long-shot. A lion roaming the streets is generally going to be big news, unless you live on an African savannah, so it’s highly unlikely it would go unnoticed by your so-called superiors.  In this case you’ll need to protest that you though it was a lion at first, panicked and went home only to realise your mistake later. And that’s going to make you look frankly quite pathetic.

Success probability: 1/10

Extreme excuse: Confined to home due to terrorist alert

Again, such an event is sure to be covered on TV and in the media, so you should only attempt this if your boss is a recluse who never has contact with the outside world, which is very unlikely indeed.  If this is not the case, and almost certainly isn’t, your only chance is to convince them the story is the subject of a media blackout for national security purposes.

Success probability: 2/10

Extreme excuse: Transient amnesia

This is going to need plenty of ground-work and probably a corrupt doctor as well. First, you’ll need to make sure you have some public episodes around the office – forget people’s names for an entire afternoon or forget how to carry out some new task you’ve only recently learned.  Do this a few times and people will start to worry

Then you’ll need to get a diagnosis from your doctor – once you have this, you’re set and ready to go.  Tough to pull off but if you can do it, you can re-use time and again.

Success probability: 3/10

Extreme excuse: Wrongly arrested for murder

A one-off throw of the dice for when you’re desperate – and you’d need to be really desperate to use this one.  As in “I’m probably about to get fired whatever I say” desperate. It’s easily exposed as the lie that it is by any boss who’s willing to check your story and if you try this and get caught you will almost definitely get fired.  The one slim chance of getting away with it is if your sheer audacity wins the respect you don’t deserve – unlikely.

Success probability: 1/10

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