Resources: Blog

How to deal with latecomers in the workplace


“I’m late; I’m late, for a very important date!”

In a recent Fair Work Commission decision the FWC commended the Employer for its process in terminating the employment of a habitual latecomer.

In a recent Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision, Mr R v Pickles Auctions Pty Ltd [2016] FWC 858 (Pickles Case), the FWC commended the Employer for its process in terminating the employment of a habitual latecomer. In the Pickles Case, Mr R was habitually late for work and whilst his work performance was good, his lateness was unsatisfactory. Mr R had been issued a number of verbal and written warnings since 2011 (with three being issued in the six months prior to his termination) about his lateness.

One day Mr R arrived to work at 9:05 am despite his start time being 8.00 am. On this day, the Employer arranged for a meeting for Mr R to give him the opportunity to explain his lateness. The Employer told Mr R that his employment was in jeopardy. Mr R explained the reasons for his lateness at the meeting, namely, he slept through his alarm. The meeting was then adjourned to allow the Employer to consider the circumstances of Mr R’s employment. The Employer decided it was appropriate to terminate Mr R’s employment. Mr R was advised of this at a subsequent meeting that day and was provided a written termination letter.

Based on the evidence submitted by the parties, the FWC concluded that there was a valid reason for the Applicant’s dismissal and the dismissal was not harsh or unjust. The FWC referred in detail to the process used by the Employer with approval:

  • record verbal and written warnings on the employee’s file and clearly state the date, reference to any previous warnings (if relevant), reason for the warning, responses provided by the employee and detail how the employee can improve in future;
  • ensure the employee is clearly aware of the allegations against them;
  • allow the employee the opportunity to respond to the particular allegations;
  • if appropriate in the circumstances, advise the employee that their employment may be terminated as a result of the process;
  • consider the responses provided by the employee properly by adjourning the meeting;
  • if the employee’s employment is to be terminated, ensure the employee knows the reason for dismissal (verbally and in writing); and
  • include in the termination letter reasons for the dismissal, reference to previous warnings and the fact that the employee had been given the opportunity to improve but unfortunately there was no improvement.

This decision reiterates that if an employer is faced with an employee who is constantly late to work that they can do something about it provided that the proper process is followed.


Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.


Similar articles

Commission finds termination letter sent to inactive email address was not notification of dismissal

You've got mail!

Given the serious nature of matters such as dismissals, employers should, as far as reasonably practicable, communicate such matters in person to ensure that there is no confusion about when the employee was made aware of any issues with their employment.


Fair Work Commission finds dismissal was disproportionate to the gravity of an employee’s heat of the moment remark

You’re bacon me crazy

In the unfair dismissal jurisdiction, the primary remedy is reinstatement. This means the employer is ordered to return the employee to their employment in the position they held immediately prior to their dismissal or another position on no less favourable terms.


Fair Work Commission finds employer’s failure to comply with its consultation obligations rendered an employee’s dismissal to be unfair

Pick up the phone

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on Australian businesses. Employers have had to, with little notice, adapt to these changing circumstances to try and minimise the adverse impact of lockdowns on the business and its employees.


Commission finds mask mandate to be a lawful and reasonable direction

Mask up

Employees have a duty to comply with lawful and reasonable directions from their employer. In the current COVID-19 context, a key concern for employers is whether it is lawful and reasonable to issue directions related to safety matters arising from the pandemic.


Lack of consultation rendered mandatory vaccination requirement unreasonable

Talk before you walk

Consultation with employees always plays an important part when introducing changes in the workplace. Under work health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to consult with their workers as far as reasonably practicable in relation to health and safety matters.


Offers of alternative employment in redundancy cases

An offer you can refuse

In most cases of redundancy, employers have an obligation to consult with affected employees about the proposed redundancy and consider whether or not anything can be done to mitigate or minimise the impact on the employee, such as redeployment or obtaining other acceptable employment for the employee.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.