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But what if the employee is a top performer in all other aspects of the job? Do you want to be a micromanager? Should you consider looking the other way and forgiving this flaw? As you decide how to best handle a perpetually late employee who excels in other areas, ask yourself these three important questions:

#1: What is the Effect of the Employee’s Tardiness on the Rest of the Team?

Your employees are a team and the actions of any one person can affect the entire organization. Some may argue just a few minutes here and there isn’t a big deal. You might question if it’s really worth it to make an issue of tardiness. However, the consistent tardiness of one employee can lead to a companywide decrease in productivity and morale.

Sometimes issues like tardiness are “contagious” as well. If employees see one person show up late without any consequences, it could cause others to follow the same pattern because it appears punctuality is not valued at your company. Tardiness also can cause resentment from those who make it a priority to show up to work on time. As a leader, you are responsible for the performance of the entire team. And if one person is bringing down the morale and productivity of the entire group, then the situation needs to be addressed.

It’s particularly important to be consistent in how you handle tardiness. Ignoring it for a “star” employee while disciplining a more average employee can lead to morale issues and potential exposure to claims. Your employees may feel they are working in an unfair workplace where only certain people need to follow the rules.

#2: Could There be Some Underlying Issues Causing the Tardiness?

If this is a new development, check to see if there is a reason contributing to the tardiness. In a private conversation, you can give your employee a chance to explain the lateness issue. For example, you may find that your employee is dealing with a stressful situation at home that is affecting his or her ability to get to work on time. If the employee is otherwise a top performer and a valued member of your organization, consider adjusting his or her schedule to accommodate a temporary situation. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t fair to be flexible with just one employee. You would need to be able to reasonably accommodate other employees as well.

#3: What are Some Potential Legal Ramifications That I Need to Consider?

If your employee tells you that’s it has been difficult to get to work on time due to an illness or disability, the employee may be entitled to legal protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).If the employee is dealing with a medical condition that qualifies under these federal or state laws, you might not be able to penalize the tardiness. This is a complex area of the law so it’s best to consult with an expert to avoid a potential lawsuit down the road.

In a small business, chronic lateness can take a toll on your business’s productivity and profits. The Oasis Outsourcing HR experts can assist you with this or any other HR-related area.

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