Bosses share workers' ridiculous reasons for being late

Published March 17, 2014

From escaped zebras to must-see TV, employers share some of the most unique excuses they've heard from tardy employees in a recent CareerBuilder study. The study also finds that nearly one quarter of employees (23 percent) admit to being tardy at least once a month on average, with 15 percent admitting to arriving late at least once a week.

Running a little late could have big repercussions. One in three employers (35 percent) have fired an employee for tardiness, and 48 percent of employers expect their employees to be on time every day. Thirty-four percent say they allow employees to be late every once in a while, as long as tardiness doesn't become a pattern, and 18 percent don't care how their employees manage their time, just that they get their work done well.

"Most employers understand that occasionally things pop up and cause employees to be behind schedule. The trouble comes when tardiness becomes a habit," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

Some roadblocks tend to occur more often than others. Traffic remains the most common reason employees say they're late (39 percent), followed by lack of sleep (19 percent), problems with public transportation (8 percent), bad weather (7 percent) and dropping the kids off at day care or school (6 percent).

Some employees don't stick with the common excuses for their tardiness. Employers shared some of the most memorable excuses they've received from employees who were running late, including:

• Employee claimed a zebra was running down the highway and held up traffic (turned out to be true)

• Employee woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from his home

• Employee's cat got stuck in the toilet

• Employee couldn't eat breakfast — he ran out of milk for cereal and had to buy some before getting ready for work

• Employee was late to work because he fell asleep in the car when he got to work

• Employee accidentally put super glue in her eye instead of contact lens solution, and had to go to the emergency room

• Employee thought Halloween was a work holiday

• Employee said a hole in the roof caused rain to fall on the alarm clock and it didn't go off

• Employee was watching something on TV and really wanted to see the end

• Employee forgot that the company had changed locations

• Employee got a hairbrush stuck in her hair

• Employee was scared by a nightmare