Human Resources News & Insights

The funny side of HR: 9 worst excuses for being late

Saying you “got stuck in traffic” is s-o-o-o-o 1990s. We have nine better excuses that, if nothing else, will make the boss laugh.

Courtesy of, actual excuses given by the tardy (with equally silly commentary given by us):

1. “I got lost in the fog when I was rowing to work.”
(Presumably employed in London or on the HMS Bounty.)

2. “I wasn’t thinking and accidentally went to my old job.”
(Try the same thing tomorrow and stay there.)

3. “Someone stole my daffodils.”
(Now, that’s something all of us can relate to.)

4. “My ex-husband stole my car and I couldn’t drive to work.”
(So, if he has a car, why couldn’t he give you a lift?)

5. “My route to work was shut down by the presidential motorcade.”
(But, uh, the president isn’t in town.)

6. “I was indicted for securities fraud this morning.”
(Sorry, that one’s taken by Martha Stewart.)

7. “The line was too long at Starbucks.”
(We hope you picked up a job app while you were there.)

8. “I was trying to get my gun back from the police.”
(You just can never find a cop when you need one.)

9. “I didn’t have money for gas because all the pawn shops were closed.”
(We can see this being an ongoing problem, what with your now not owning a wristwatch.)

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  • Denise DiMeglio

    Another absence excuse:

    I had an employee call in that he would be late…he locked himself in the garage.

  • Mike Howard

    The elevator to the fifth floor is slow. By a half hour. Every morning.

  • I had to take my pot bellied pig to the “sty-chiatrist” – don’t laugh, I actually got told that!

  • Judy Korbus

    I couldn’t find my hair brush.

  • Maria Ramirez

    I couldn’t get out because a huge tree trunk was blocking the driveway.

  • Melissa

    I asked one of my employees once why he was late and he said, “I had to stop and get cigarettes.” I told him he got a pass for honesty but next time he needed to come up with something better.

  • Yolanda

    I thought that it was Saturday.

  • I was getting into my car and noticed that I had left the sunroof open overnight, this caused moisture to build up within the car, upon driving to work, the rush of air into the vehicle caused and atmospheric condition resulting in dense fog within the vehicle, causing me to return home…. This was a real excuse

  • Trent

    When asked why she was late an employee stated she didn’t have any clean underwear. I must of had a look of disbelief on my face because she quickly followed up with, “I am wearing a pair of my husband’s!”

  • Terri

    I actually had an employee tell me he was late because he got fried the night before. (meaning drugs)!

    And I also had one tell me that she was late because her kids had scabies!

  • Dave Herrera

    “We have only been married two months” And my husband wouldn’t let me out of bed”..

  • “When I woke up this morning my bed was on fire….I’ll be about 20 minutes late.” or… “They found a dead body near my hose and the police will probably want to question me”

    I started a log, excluding names , of all the best excuses and I get them out to read them when I need a good laugh.

  • Kacy

    My cat is peeing blood.

  • Mark Lenz

    An employee called into tell me that he would be late because he had a bone in his foot. I replied that we all have bones in our feet. Then he clarified that he had stepped on a chicken bone while feeding his dogs…

  • terri

    I had an employee tell me one time that he was late because he was partying the night before, got drunk, went home with some random girl, woke up at her house, had no idea where he was, and got lost trying to get back to his house to get ready for work! She actually lived in another state, about 55 miles from his house! I was stern with him, but when he left my office, I had a good laugh!

  • Lori

    That’s why they are employees and you are in HR – because they are obviously not good at deceiving, cheating and lying and doing it in such a way that the poor employee at the receiving end doesn’t have a fighting chance in court of law against a company’s lying, cheating, deceitful HR staff. My favorite is the typical sexual harassment policy that is given to employees to satisfy the government and only to satisfy the government. Any employee that gets sexually harassed and complains gets fired. The pervert who is doing the harassing gets promoted. And the HR staff knows how to twist the employees words and cover their butts so they get away with the obvious retaliation of firing the employee!

  • John G

    Lori – You go girl. Exactly right. In all my twenty-five years of working for big and small companies alike, I’ve only had ONE HR director who I felt actually cared about the “lesser” employees and not just the managers. She wasn’t there long. As soon as she started to stick her neck out and stand up for us, they fired her. Most HR directors are self-serving sycophants. And I love how so many people’s responses to someone who has a problem at work is to just quit and find another job. Out of the frying pan and right into another one. Assuming the last HR director hasn’t done everything they legally can to sabotage your next potential hiring.