How to Tell Your Boss You Are Going to Be Late (with template)

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

At some point in our professional lives, we may face unexpected circumstances that cause us to be late for work. It is essential to handle such situations professionally and with open communication, as punctuality is a crucial aspect of any job. The way you inform your boss about your tardiness can impact their perception of your work ethic and reliability. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to effectively communicate your lateness to your supervisor and minimize its impact on your professional reputation.

1. Assess the Situation

Before reaching out to your boss, take a moment to assess the situation. Consider the following questions:

  • How late will you be?
  • Is this a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behavior?
  • How will your lateness impact your team and workplace?
  • Are there any critical deadlines or meetings that your lateness will affect?

Understanding the scope of your tardiness will help you communicate the situation more effectively and prepare for any potential consequences.

2. Choose the Right Method of Communication

Once you have assessed the situation, decide on the best method of communication. In most cases, the earlier you inform your boss about your lateness, the better. Here are some common methods to consider:

  • Phone call: A phone call is often the most direct and personal way to communicate your lateness. It allows for an immediate exchange of information and the opportunity to answer any questions your boss may have.
  • Text message or instant message: If a phone call is not feasible, a text message or instant message is an alternative for quick communication. Keep the message concise and to the point.
  • Email: In some cases, an email may be the most appropriate method, especially if you need to provide more detailed information or documentation. Be sure to make the subject line clear and concise.
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3. Be Honest and Apologetic

When communicating your lateness, be honest about the reason and apologetic for any inconvenience it may cause. Avoid making up excuses or sugarcoating the situation. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and may be more understanding if you own up to your mistake.

A Template:

"Hi [Boss's Name], I'm sorry to inform you that I'm running late this morning due to a flat tire. I've already contacted roadside assistance, and they estimate that it will take about an hour to resolve. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and will keep you updated on my progress."

4. Offer Solutions or Alternatives

When possible, provide solutions or alternatives to mitigate the impact of your tardiness on your team and workplace. This may include:

  • Asking a coworker to cover for you in a meeting or task.
  • Offering to work late or make up the lost time on another day.
  • Rescheduling important tasks or meetings if feasible.

By offering solutions, you demonstrate your commitment to your job and show that you are actively working to minimize the consequences of your lateness.

5. Keep Your Boss Updated

Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to provide updates to your boss as the situation develops. If there are any changes to your estimated arrival time or if additional issues arise, promptly inform your supervisor. This will help them manage their expectations and make any necessary adjustments to their plans.

6. Learn from the Experience

Once the situation is resolved, take the time to reflect on the experience and identify any lessons learned. Ask yourself:

  • Was there anything you could have done to prevent or minimize your lateness?
  • Are there any changes you can make to your routine or habits to improve punctuality in the future?
  • Did you handle the situation professionally and effectively?

By learning from your mistakes, you can work towards better punctuality and improved communication with your boss moving forward.

7. Apologize and Make Amends

After you have arrived at work and settled in, make a point to apologize to your boss in person, if possible. A face-to-face apology can make a significant difference in how your boss perceives your sincerity and commitment to punctuality. Additionally, if your tardiness caused any inconvenience to your coworkers or team members, extend your apologies to them as well.

8. Demonstrate Improved Punctuality

Going forward, make a conscious effort to improve your punctuality. By consistently arriving on time, you can rebuild your professional reputation and demonstrate your reliability to your boss and colleagues. If you find yourself struggling with punctuality, consider implementing some of the following strategies:

  • Set multiple alarms or use a more effective alarm sound to ensure you wake up on time.
  • Prepare for the day ahead by packing your work items and planning your outfit the night before.
  • Build extra time into your morning routine to account for unexpected delays.
  • Opt for an earlier commute time to avoid traffic or transit delays.
  • Use time management tools or apps to stay organized and on schedule.

9. Address the Root Cause

If your lateness is a recurring issue, it’s crucial to address the underlying cause. Analyze your habits and routines to determine what factors may be contributing to your tardiness. Some possible reasons may include:

  • Difficulty waking up early due to poor sleep habits.
  • Procrastination or inefficient morning routines.
  • Underestimating the time required for your commute.
  • Poor time management or disorganization.

Once you’ve identified the root cause, take steps to address and overcome it. This may involve adjusting your sleep schedule, reevaluating your morning routine, or seeking advice from a mentor or colleague on improving your time management skills.

10. Understand the Potential Consequences

It’s essential to recognize that chronic lateness can have severe consequences for your professional reputation and career growth. In some cases, it may even lead to disciplinary action or termination. By understanding the potential ramifications of tardiness, you can take the necessary steps to improve your punctuality and maintain a positive professional image.


Inevitably, there will be times when unforeseen circumstances cause you to be late for work. However, by handling the situation professionally and communicating effectively with your boss, you can minimize the impact on your reputation and maintain a positive working relationship. Remember to assess the situation, choose the right method of communication, be honest and apologetic, offer solutions, and learn from the experience. By addressing the root cause of your lateness and demonstrating improved punctuality, you can overcome this challenge and continue to succeed in your career.

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