1-hour Late For Work – Handle It Professionally

You woke up, go to the bathroom, make coffee, accidentally look at your watch, and… oh God, you’re late!!

And you aren’t late for 10 minutes, but a whole hour!

What to do when you’re 1 hour late for work, should you try to sneak into the company or send an email? Here you’ll learn what’s the best to do in this awkward situation.

What To Do When You Know You’re Gonna Late?

Every company is different and sometimes, showing up late doesn’t have to be a big deal. So that depends on your company policy and your supervisor.

First, that can happen to anyone, because stuff happens (your car doesn’t start, your babysitter cancel, your family member is sick, etc).

man running to work

However, if you’re worried about work and your boss, there are some things you can do when know you’re going to be late:

  • Call ahead – Of course, if you can. But if you know in advance you’re going to be late, call your manager and let him know about this. It is important because maybe someone needs to cover your job until you show up. Also, that’s fair to your boss.
  • woman makes a phone call

  • Consider the impact of your lateness – Think rationally, “Are you missing anything big?“, if that’s not the case, then don’t make a big deal about being late. However, if it is a big deal, send an apology letter or email.
  • Apologize – You can go wrong with that. It is always polite to apologize when that happens. It is a bit harder, but it’s best to apologize in person, it will have a bigger impact and your supervisor will appreciate that.
  • sorry

  • Provide an Explanation – If you have a legitimate explanation, use it. Try not to sound like you are making excuses.
  • Don’t overshare – An overly detailed excuse might sound fake, so don’t go into too many details. Also, you don’t have to tell everyone what’s going on. Keep it simple.
  • Make it clear that won’t become a habit – You can say that this won’t happen again and that you’ll be more careful.
  • Be Honest – Don’t lie, you’ll break the trust and your employer won’t trust you. If your real reason is silly, just skip it and apologize.
  • Apologize to your co-workers – Don’t assume your co-workers have everything under control, but apologize for your negligence.

Few Best Excuses

Some excuses are more popular than others and there are some of these: traffic, sleep schedules, weather condition, sick child, car trouble, family emergency, house problems, illness, forgetting something, etc.


If you are late for work, you’ll probably need to give a valid reason for your delay. It’s best to be honest, or at least tell a little white lie if you can tell the truth (for example, if you are interviewing for another job).

Worst Excuses You Can Tell When Being Late

The CareerBuilder conducted a survey to find out some strange excuses employees give to their employers. Did you know that 25% of workers are late at least once a month? How could one not find creative excuses?

There are some of them:

  • It is too cold to work.
  • I had morning sickness (told by a man).
  • My coffee was too hot and I couldn’t leave it until it cooled off.
  • hot coffee

  • My dog ate my work schedule.
  • I drove to the wrong location.
  • My cat got stuck in the toilet.
  • funny cat photo

    • A hole in the roof caused rain to fall on the alarm clock and it didn’t go off.
    • I fall asleep in the parking lot.
    • My fake eyelashes were stuck together.

    Although some of these excuses are very creative and original, don’t use them. 😀 They probably won’t work with your manager or employer.

    How To Prevent Being 1 Hour Late For Work?

    You’re being late, apologized to everyone and you want to avoid this uncomfortable situation in the future. Incorporate some of these ideas into your morning/night routine and prevent lateness.

    • Set an earlier alarm – Give yourself enough time in the morning to get ready for your work.
    • Prepare your lunch the night before – Avoid hectic mornings and prepare your lunch the night before.
    • Have a simple breakfast – Avoid having a big breakfast if not so necessary. Eat some porridge or pop something in the microwave. Don’t cook in the morning, or if you want to, get up earlier.
    • porridge breakfast

    • Check your gas tank – Don’t wait until your tank is empty. Check your gas when you come home from work.
    • Check the weather/traffic – Always look out for traffic if you drive to your work and look for the best route to avoid chaos. Also, check the weather the night before, so you’ll know how to dress in the morning.
    • Get to bed earlier – If you’re going to sleep too late, you’ll be tired in the morning and probably fall asleep. So get to bed earlier, so you’ll feel nice and rest in the morning.

    Can You Get Fired For Being 1 Hour Late?

    In short, yes, you can get fired for being late. Especially, if you work an at-will-employment contract – meaning your boss can terminate you anytime and without a reason.

    Most employers won’t fire you if that isn’t your habit. But they will fire you if you are consistently late.

    late at work

    It shouldn’t become your habit, because it shows that you don’t really value your work schedule, your employer and your co-workers.

    A good rule is to be 15 minutes earlier for every shift, then you can settle into work mode.

    Final Verdict

    While there isn’t the best excuse for being 1 hour late for work, so it’s best to be honest. Every boss or manager would rather have an employee with integrity than a liar. Just don’t make it a habit and everything will be fine.

Melissa is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Economy. She became one of the OfficeNeedle team members in 2020. Her expertise in business management lies in 6-year experience working in 3 companies which allowed her to improve her business skills. The knowledge she has received through her work, she presents in the educational articles helping many people who start or run a business. Her secret love is design so she writes also about office furniture and equipment.