Best Excuses for Being Late to Work (Examples)

Here are excuses for being late to work. Here are a few pointers for providing justifications for being late. These are some guidelines to follow when presenting credible reasons for missing work.

Having car trouble, getting into a car accident, or having a sick family member are entirely legitimate reasons for being late to work. Most employers will understand. Sometimes wholly legitimate reasons for being late to come up. And they could be a private or personal matter.

excuses for being late to work

What to do when running late

Here's what to do when you're running late for work:

  • Notify your manager immediately.
  • Since honesty is the best policy, always be truthful.
  • Do not include a thorough explanation of your excuse.
  • Only if required, be absent from work.
  • Make your skipping as avoided as possible.

On-time arrival is critical for your productivity and the productivity of your team and business. You can inform your employer by delivering a straightforward and honest explanation and working diligently to earn their trust as an employee. There may be instances when unforeseen circumstances impair your ability to report to work on schedule. In this post, we'll address some typical excuses for being late to work and how to communicate your tardiness effectively to your employer and colleagues.

excuses for being late to work

Examples of good reasons for being late to work (good excuses to use)

If you must arrive late for work for any reason, specific justifications are more valid than others. Perhaps you were feeling ill, but you feel better after a few days of relaxation. Maybe you had a family crisis that demanded your attention, but you're able to return once it's settled. Here are a few examples of acceptable explanations for tardiness to work:

Weather conditions for public transportation

The weather is a frequent cause of tardiness to work. Major snowstorms, torrential rain or flooding, and other severe weather phenomena can make driving unsafely extremely difficult, and they frequently strike with little to no warning. You can notify your employer in advance if you anticipate being late owing to these issues. If you cannot drive safely to work, you may choose to inform your manager that you will be unable to report that day or that you are considering working from home.


Another frequent reason for being late is a traffic jam. Significant accidents, construction, and other events can hinder traffic, affecting your commute and ability to get to work on time. While this is a common excuse, it is essential to use it sparingly to demonstrate to your employer that your tardiness is neither chronic nor the result of an unprofessional act.

Illness in the family

Caring for a sick or elderly family member is another acceptable reason for tardiness. Notify your supervisor as soon as possible if you need to care for someone before reporting to work. While illness usually is beyond your control, you may wish to notify your supervisor the night before if symptoms begin to manifest. However, some illnesses strike swiftly, and you may not always receive such notice.

This justification also applies to professionals who have children. In this instance, you may need to arrange for alternate child care before reporting to work.

Public transportation

When mass transit gets delayed, you may get forced to arrive late for work. Perhaps your bus schedule got altered, or your train arrived late. Because this situation is often out of your control, you can use it as a legitimate explanation for arriving late to work.

Tips for dealing with a late arrival to work

When you cannot report to work on time, it is vital to act professionally to demonstrate to your employer, supervisor, and coworkers your devotion to work. Take the following steps to deal with being late for work professionally:

  • Be truthful.
  • Be succinct.
  • Early communication is critical.
  • Take care of your obligations.
  • Apologize.

Be truthful

Being candid is critical for maintaining professionalism in the job, and your manager will likely appreciate it as well if you present a reasonable and logical explanation.

You may be late for reasons other than those stated above, such as waking up late or forgetting crucial work-related materials at home that you need to retrieve. Be candid while informing them of the valid reason for maintaining trust.

Be succinct

While honesty is always the best policy, keep your explanation for arriving late to work concise and uncomplicated. Your employer requires the relevant data, such as the particular reason for your late, the time you intend to arrive at work, and the steps you intend to take to mitigate any inconvenience caused by your delay. Whatever your day plans are, your manager will appreciate knowing when to anticipate your arrival and how you intend to make up for missed assignments or meetings. This method enables your company to immediately alter the work environment to accommodate your brief absence and return to the duties at hand.

Communicate early and frequently

Communicate immediately. If you're on your way to work, text messages, instant messaging, emails, and voicemails are all simple ways to communicate your anticipated arrival time.

While not all circumstances need advance notice, your team and supervisor will almost certainly appreciate it when you can provide it. Supervisors often welcome advance information of impending tardiness. If you have a doctor's or dentist's appointment, notify your boss that you will be arriving later that day and at what time they should expect you. Your supervisor may change the schedule or make other arrangements to maintain team productivity by providing notice.

Assume responsibility for your actions

Be proactive and create a plan for completing any work that may become due to missing some of your regular hours. You may wish to contact other members of your team to see whether they are capable of handling any time-sensitive duties until you arrive. If you can arrange for any coverage or help, inform your team leader of your accomplishments and who will assist you during your absence.

Additionally, you might accept additional responsibility for your delay and explain how you intend to make amends. Perhaps you'll work through lunch or take on a few extra things from home when the workday is complete. Additionally, you may like to reassure your boss that you are staying on top of your other responsibilities.

Express regret and apologize

When notifying your supervisor of your impending tardiness, take the time to apologize and emphasize that this is a one-time occurrence. Additionally, you may wish to apologize to any employees your tardiness may have impacted. Suppose they got forced to take on additional responsibilities or cover for you in meetings. In that case, a simple apology and statement of gratitude for their willingness to assist can go a long way.

Examples of bad excuses for being late to work

Here are common excuses employees use when late for work. Avoid some of these bizarre excuses:

Defending against traffic

A reasonably popular reason used by most people is getting stopped in traffic.

Everyone is aware that traffic is at its highest during peak hours, which will undoubtedly contribute to your late entry. While you may have a late start, this is a common and excellent justification used by most people.

Installing a new appliance

Another novel but intriguing excuse advanced by most workers is that they are awaiting the repair of their new machine or other equipment.

Though the appointment got made a week prior, it got forgotten due to a hectic schedule. As a result, it is necessary to wait for the specialists to arrive and repair the machine. Latecomers can persuade their superiors using this one-of-a-kind justification.

Ailing family members

Another frequently cited reason individuals give is that their family members, particularly elderly relatives such as grandfather or grandmother, are ill. You can always mention this and excuse your hospital visit by stating that you were there to encourage them.

Alarm clock issues

It is a humorous and silly cause; many people forget to set their alarms, unplug, or shut off their mobile devices while sleeping due to tripping over them.

Individuals come forward to state that their alarm clock got broken and they cannot set the alarm. However, this justification can never be employed frequently.

Blaming public transportation

Professionals who reside outside of the city and rely on public transit to get to work each day blame the transportation system for the bus or local train arriving late.

Ascertain that no other employee rides the same train or bus as you, as they may have reported at the time.


Another prevalent but fascinating reason for late arrival is an illness. You can call your supervisor and explain in a whisky voice that you are feeling a little under the weather and will be late for work.

Make it a mild disease rather than a severe one. Additionally, you may have faked the previous day that you were about to become ill.

Blaming a spouse

Instead of continuously blaming yourself for being late to work, this time, blame your wife. Make it obvious to your supervisor that your wife was ill and that you were responsible for her care.

Was searching for car keys

Another stupid reason for being late for work may be that you were searching for car keys. When you don't have your car keys, it breeds the inability to get to work on time.

Losing car keys is a good idea when you have little children at home since children often play with car keys, wallets, and watches. Alternatively, you could conclude that you discovered it in an obvious location, such as the refrigerator or the foyer.

My car broke down

Many people cite a pretty straightforward reason for being late because their car broke down.

There are numerous possibilities in this instance; a flat tire or a dead battery are only two factors that can contribute to a car breaking down.

Being apprehended by police

Another plausible justification is that the police held you up for no reason. You will be asked for proof when you state that you got stopped for exceeding the speed limit or running a red light.

To be safe, inform your manager that you were dragged aside for no reason.

Scheduled with a doctor's appointment

If you're running late for work, you might inform your boss that you're waiting to meet with a doctor by scheduling an appointment.

Because the crowd is more significant, it may take longer; this may be a solid reason to persuade your supervisor.

Experiencing cramps

If you are a female employee, there are various things to discuss regarding health concerns. Accurate but straightforward, you can state that you have cramps and will be late for work or the office. This is advantageous for female employees.

Death in the family

Among the numerous excuses for being late, death in the family is another common one. Either your grandparents or distant relatives have died, and as a result, you may arrive late for work.

When you're not at your desk, this will help to calm your boss's attitude. This type of reasoning requires no justification other than acceptance.

Having a dizzy spell

Feeling giddy or dizzy after taking a cough syrup or medication the previous night can be a legitimate explanation for being late. Call your supervisor in the early morning with a morning voice that convinces him of the truth. This is a viable option if you are running late.

Difficulty exiting the garage

Suppose your garage is automatic and has power-operated doors. In that case, you might choose this motive and explain that your automobile could not exit the garage due to a power outage. If you do not have a backup plan, this rationale will suffice.

Weather conditions

During the cold or rainy season, nature will work with you to ensure your excuse is flawless.

You might call your supervisor and explain that the weather was awful, or that your neighborhood was too snowy, and so forth. This is an excellent reason to be late.

Inebriated in breath analyzer

One of the strangest explanations would be that your car would not start after the breath analyzer indicated that you were intoxicated.

Wearing the incorrect footwear

Employees have amusing intellects, which make your employer chuckle with a big smile when he informs you that you accidentally left the flat wearing your girlfriend's shoes. And, for the same reason, you were required to return to your flat to replace them.

Dropped your purse in a coin-operated newspaper box

Women also come up with stupid conclusions, such as dropping their purse in a coin-operated newspaper box.

To get their pocketbook, they required a penny and battled against the odds to reclaim their priceless possession.

Wet garments

The employee was late to work because all of his freshly washed clothes were wet from the rain. He had not anticipated showers would ruin his clothes. This is another absurd conclusion to your boss's tardiness.

Haircut prior to work

A professional attempted to get her hair cut before work when her clippers failed to work. And this requires her to visit a beauty parlor to get her hair styled adequately, which takes up valuable time. These types of stupid comments are also used as an excuse.

A bear attacked my car

This could be a humorous excuse if an employee arrives late because a bear obstructed and attacked his or her car. Additionally, employees generate photographic justifications for the same.

Was delayed while assisting others

Certain employees promote their social causes by declaring that they got delayed while assisting a stranger to deliver a baby beside the highway. This may be an appropriate explanation for the boss as it pertains to human assistance.

Assisting children and infants

The majority of employees arrive at the office with a valid and common purpose: they need to bring their children to school and their infants to daycare. While this excuse may be genuine and valid, it should not be used frequently.

Wardrobe issues

Many professionals come forward claiming their wardrobe has become jammed, locked, or lost keys; these are all real reasons, but not frequently. An employee cannot be so careless when it comes to clothing.

Apologies for pets

Another unusual apology that many people make is for their pets. Their pets may have escaped or maybe standing upstairs and refusing to down, or your cat may be ill. These are also a few topics to bring up with your manager if you arrive late to work.

Was confined to an enclosed space

A few exceptional and believable reasons are also included on the list of exempts. Few experts have stated that they were accidentally imprisoned indoors by their children. They had to call their neighbor or husband to fetch them out for the same reason.

Returning home for another shower

You would have stepped into a spider web, or rubbish, or into any other filthy listings and returned home for another shower. This circumstance resulted in your tardiness to work.

Animal attack

Many people stated a highly uncommon reason. That they were attacked by a dog or raccoon and got directed to a hospital for pre-medical assistance. This was the cause of a late arrival at work.

Blaming others

There are many people who blame others for not waking them up on time. This is also a cause that comes within the category of ridiculous.

Being distinctive

Specific individuals are courageous enough to assert the legitimate reason for arriving late: they desire to be different and unique from others. However, this object requires courage to get addressed.

Driveway washed away or vanished

Another poor excuse might be that the driveway was washed away or vanished, preventing you from reaching the workplace on time. This lame excuse is one of the more ridiculous excuses for being late to work.

Late for work? Take these steps

If you are running late for work right now, you can do a few things to alleviate your mind and deal with the problem successfully.

  • Call your boss immediately and inform him of the delay.
  • Make arrangements to ensure that your task is covered (by enlisting the assistance of a coworker). If you are late, personally apologize to your supervisor.
  • Always keep your commitments.
  • Avoid wasting time after you arrive late and immediately get to work.

How to express regret for being late for work

Being late for work is a typical occurrence in practically every office. However, it cannot be allowed as a habit.

As a result, you must arrive at work on time. This type of behavior can make you appear impressive and convey to your manager that you take your time and job seriously.

Thus, one of the best pieces of advice I can provide you is to use an apology letter to apologize to your boss if you are late.

The finest and proper way is to write an apology letter for being late.

  • While apologizing, choose your words carefully.
  • If you're writing an apologetic letter, begin by stating the cause for your letter.
  • When writing an apologetic letter, ensure that your words are genuine.
  • Clearly state what caused your tardiness.
  • Commit to not repeating it in the future.

What if I'm late to work when working from home?

When working from home, sometimes completely legitimate reasons work the best:

  • Running behind.
  • Alarm clock didn't go off.
  • Phone died in the middle of the night.
  • Issues dropping children off at school.

Think through what excuse isn't going to sound like a chronic issue. Communicate early and effectively to your manager. A respectful and effective method for communicating with a manager is Slack, email, or even text message.

Some of the worst excuses include:

  • I didn't feel like getting up on time.
  • Having issues with my computer.
  • Fell asleep again after waking up.
  • Morning sickness.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Rainy weather.
  • The bus broke down this morning.
  • I wore the wrong shoes.
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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