Entitlement to wages for people arriving late for work?

Bad weather, heavy traffic, a train strike or you've simply overslept. These are all the reasons employees give when they are late for work. The key question is, according to the letter of the law, what are the valid reasons for latecomers keeping their full wage or avoiding other sanctions?

They must provide five elements of proof.

Under Article 27 of the Law on Employment Contracts, employees retain entitlement to their full wage if they arrive late or do not arrive for work, on condition that they provide the necessary proof. We list the five necessary elements of proof below. 

1. The individual was physically and mentally fit to go to work when they left.

For example, someone with a delicate head after a night out who consequently arrives to work too late clearly does not fulfil this condition. Likewise, an individual who doesn’t feel like going to work and prefers binge-watching TV on the sofa is not entitled to a wage for that day.

2. The individual comes to work under normal circumstances.

This means at the normal time, using their habitual means of transport, the employee leaves their home and follows the usual route. Someone who has a king-size breakfast before work in a cafe that is clearly not on the way to work, and who therefore arrives at work very late, is not entitled to the full wage.

3. The cause of the delay is due to circumstances on the way to work.

Some valid examples: heavy snowfall, traffic jams following an accident, car breakdown or a public transport strike. An employee who simply left their home too late will not be able to claim their full wage.

4. The circumstances which led to the delay on the way to work must have happened totally unexpectedly and be beyond the control of the employee.

From this perspective, persistently harsh winter weather, for example, will not always be sufficient to justify being late for work. Indeed, poor weather is forecast well in advance, and people know that it will remain so for several days. An employee cannot therefore claim that it was unforeseen. In the same vein, announced strikes in public transport or major road works do not count as a valid reason, as they are generally reported in the media well in advance.

5. Finally, the employee must demonstrate that they have taken all necessary steps to get to work anyway. 

If an individual doesn’t want to bother taking an alternative route when there are road works, and stays at home, they cannot claim a full wage. Likewise, individuals who do not want to scrape ice off their cars and only start working when it thaws cannot claim their full wage.

Sanctions for persistent latecomers.

If one of the five elements of proof cannot be provided by the employee, the employer may withhold their wages for arriving late. But the employee has even more to lose. An employer could also give a serious warning and even dismiss the employee if he thinks enough is enough. However, the mere fact of arriving late for work once can never justify dismissal for serious reasons. Only if the employee has been late for work multiple times and has been given multiple written warnings in this respect, can this result in dismissal for serious reasons. At that point it is then a question of pure insubordination: the employer reminds the employee of their obligations, but the employee stubbornly persists.

Finally, it is of course advisable to first talk with the employee to find out what is at the root of their arriving too late, before taking drastic measures. An individual who arrives late or does not show up without a valid reason must realise that not only do they leave their employer in the lurch, but also their colleagues! 


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