The top 10 most extreme ‘Late for Work’ excuses we’ve ever heard

Arriving on time for work is sometimes hard.

As a manager, you've probably heard your fair share of excuses for employees being late. Here are 10 of the most unbelievable we've heard.

We’re all aware of the regular, normal, boring and ordinary reasons why employees miss clock in time. The most common are of course:

“My train was delayed

Horrible traffic

Car issues

Oops, I overslept

I have a stomach bug”

However, sometimes something quite unusual happens that does prevent you from arriving at work on time. We collected the top 10 most outrageous Sorry I’m Late For Work stories by asking our colleagues at,

 “What’s the strangest excuse you or a colleague has used for arriving late to work?”

10. Flat tyre

“A flat tyre isn’t typically outrageous, I know, but I once had a colleague that used that excuse at least once a week. Once a week!”


9. Responsible father

“One day, one of my colleagues told our manager that he couldn’t help being late that morning. Turns out, he had to take his kids to school first. I specifically remember that day because I wanted to ask him why didn’t he just wake up earlier.”

Yeah, we’d want to ask him that too.

8. The Chipped Tooth

“I knew a manager that arrived late for work one morning. Wait, now I’m not sure if she pitched at all that day… Anyway, it was because she chipped her tooth. She just had to get to the dentist first.”

Some people really cannot go even one day without a Colgate smile, huh?

7. Eskom did it

“I couldn’t leave on time because I couldn’t open my garage door. Because, well, load shedding.”

We’d like to offer an alternative suggestion next time: Uhm, ever heard of public transport?

6. Incomplete cycle

“I had a colleague blame her washing machine. She said it died or broke or something and she had no choice but to wait for the plumber.”

No choice? Really? Haibo.

5. Rained in

“I couldn’t leave Graaff Reinet Sunday night because it rained too heavily. The roads out of town were all muddy. Eventually, when it was safe to drive, I came straight to work.”

Too bad we can’t all afford helicopters.

4. Locked up

“I locked myself in my house once. I just couldn’t find the key to get out.”

Did you misplace the spare too?

3. Ripped pants

“I just parked my car, and had to climb over a small wall in the parking lot. That’s when my pants ripped. That place that where the sun doesn't shine? Yeah, it got some sunshine that morning. I turned around went home for an outfit change.”

From all workers everywhere, thank you for going back home first.

2. The wedding

“I once had a colleague who showed up to work at 2pm. The reason: He quickly got married.”

How did he not let anyone know beforehand, though? Just… How…?

1. The fire

“I once had a colleague whose flat burned down. She pitched at 11am – with bandages all over. She was wearing a friend’s clothes since hers literally went up in flames.”

In case you’re wondering: No, they didn’t allow her to stay and do any work.

…And here's an excuse gone horribly wrong:

“I was walking to the train station one morning. Running late, I knew I'd already missed my train. So I texted the head of my department and told him the trains were delayed as a fail-safe. In reality, I was nowhere near the train station.

Fast forward to what felt like two seconds, and he pulls up next to me!

Turns out he was dropping his daughter at a school in the area and saw me. We both knew I was caught out. He just offered me a lift and, embarrassed as I was, I declined his offer. I haven’t lied to any manager since.”

So let that be a lesson for us all.

Our advice to managers:

We are all human and sometimes things beyond our control do happen. What you have to look out for are the people that come late and are doing poor work and have a poor attitude and consistently lie.

Being late once or twice doesn’t mean your employee is unreliable. Rather, look for patterns of negative behaviour before you take action. For example, here are two employees you need to fire immediately.

Up your managerial game with more Management Advice from Careers24.