How not to deal with tardiness, and avoid social media ridicule

One manager's extreme work rule has gone viral, provoking criticism and uproar across social media.

How not to deal with tardiness

We’ve all had our fair share of nightmare bosses. And on the flipside, many employers will have had to deal with difficult workers too. Lateness is of course an issue that can eat into business productivity and should be addressed. But can a manager really punish tardy employees to such a shocking degree, insisting they must work an extra nine minutes for every one minute they were late?

Well, that’s what one manager demanded in a workplace notice which has now gone viral. This – extreme, shall we say? – rule has cast social media users in a spin, with many critiquing the manager in question with a barrage of expletives. And as controversial and offensive as you may find this perspective, it’s actually illegal, not to mention unethical, and constitutes as ‘wage theft’ on the part of the employer.

Employees would certainly have a case to put forward for an unlawful deductions from wages claim were they not to receive pay for the extra time the manager insisted they work. Employers would also have to ensure that the extra work undertaken didn’t take the employee’s earnings down to less than minimum wage, or this would signify a breach of the national minimum wage regulations, which would result in fines and them being named and shamed by government.

Even if staff were to be paid for those extra nine minutes, there would still have to be a clause in their contract of employment that stipulates that an employee is expected to take on extra time with no advance warning.

Another risk arises when an employee’s working hours total more than 48 hours per week, providing they haven’t signed the opt out agreement. This would be another example of blatant law breaking.

In addition, implementing such a policy would no doubt result in an influx of claims for constructive dismissal. After all, a poster like this screams poor staff morale, so a resulting mass exodus of staff would not be surprising in the slightest. Lateness is an issue that must be tackled, yes. But this must be done in the right, and legal, way by employers speaking with their staff and getting to the root cause of the tardiness.

There could absolutely be genuine reasons for lateness – caring responsibilities, transport cancellations, a disability perhaps, are just a few examples – and it’s important for a manager to understand this. It then allows them to put in place reasonable adjustments to offset this, like a change to start and finish times, allowing remote working, etc.

If the issue is recurring or down the employee’s poor conduct, then an employer can of course progress with disciplinary procedures.

But wage theft is never, ever OK. And given the social media storm that has erupted from this controversial work rule, I hope that if that was ever in doubt before, it’s certainly not now.

Kate Palmer
Kate Palmer

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