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Thread: Late comers.

  1. #1
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    Talking Late comers.

    Hi guys.

    I have a certain bad apple and need some advice.

    As per usualwe have a few guys that come late, either 2 minutes late twice a week, or 19 minutes once a month due to public transport. We tolerate this because 1) These guys are very hard workers and never shy away from overtime when needed and 2) We feel that this is circumstances beyond their control. These guys alway clock in, report to apologise (clocking machine is in my office) and go to work.

    During this week another guy (also periodically late by couple of minutes) walks in two hours late, clock in and go to work without saying a word. Our business is very hands-on and customer intensive so I did'n't give it further attention untill the next day. When I asked him why he was late he said that he overslept. As the discussion escalated he said that I cannot single him out as he is not the only one that is late, and was generally disrespectfull. When I told him that I am talking to him about his behaviour and I will handle each to his own merits, he got even more arrogant.

    So I put up a memo that all needs to report on time or face the consequences. Now, mister dependant is on his 2nd written warning and mr sleeping beauty is making sure he is on time.

    Am I to sacrifice a good worker at the altar of being consequent?

    I have a general bad attitude which sometimes make me feel like giving this up. Don't know how to handle it. I have 12 years management experience but can't get a grip here.

    I also have a supervisor who (after mr. sleeping beauty came 2 hours late) I heard complaining to a sales lady that if he comes late, he will get a warning but mr sleeping beauty gets away with it. After me and mr sleeping beauty's tussle the same supervisor commented to mr sleeping beauty: They cannot discipline you if they don't discipline the other etc.

    We are in the automotive trade and one morning we had to push some cars out the shop. I am pushing myself and some of my staff are standing playing on their phones!

    What's the worst that can happen if I take a pick axe handle to them? Things are running rampant! It's out of control!

    Seriously, any advise to get this under control? Any books on labour law for business owners?

  2. #2
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    I usually bide my time and nail the problematic employee with some other offense.Progressive discipline usually works a treat if you are fair and keep the warnings coming.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    At the end of the day, what is bugging you is bad attitude, not the occasional small miss on time-keeping.

    Work-to-rule improves discipline, which is something a little different from attitude. In fact, some people with bad attitude can be very disciplined about it.

    My suggestion - If you want to fix an attitude problem, focus on attitude.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Sounds good, but how do you 'focus on attitude'?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannes Botha View Post
    During this week another guy (also periodically late by couple of minutes) walks in two hours late, clock in and go to work without saying a word. Our business is very hands-on and customer intensive so I did'n't give it further attention untill the next day. When I asked him why he was late he said that he overslept. As the discussion escalated he said that I cannot single him out as he is not the only one that is late, and was generally disrespectfull. When I told him that I am talking to him about his behaviour and I will handle each to his own merits, he got even more arrogant.

    So I put up a memo that all needs to report on time or face the consequences.
    Personally I'd have had the employee on a disciplinary for insubordination. A 5 day unpaid suspension as sanction can work wonders.

    I suggest your question really shows the problem though. It's something of a soft skills issue; which means the line is not as clear cut, the evidence not quite as clear and unequivocal as with things like time-keeping. So perhaps it's not surprising that employers might try to steer clear of "murky ground".

    But I ask you - read the bit I quoted. Is that "murky"?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    When the employee started talking back it became insolence.
    Asking for reasons or enquiring about discipline is not in itself insolence, a common mistake or over 're-action.
    However it seems the discussion digressed to an unacceptable tone.
    There is of course a big difference between a few minutes late and 2 hours, which, it seems, was part of the reason for "singling out".
    The other reason, seems to be the failure to apologise. Clearly that is poor bad manners.

    It sounds as if the exasperation of the exchange led to a knee jerk 're-action which is providing new exasperation.
    It seems the first step would be to deal with the 2 hour man via a hearing for insolence. Possibly it could be more a counselling type style leading to a warning, rather than a formal evidence based hearing that may just prove counter productive.

    Time keeping is always a problem, however, do not be fooled that transport is always to blame. It is a common cop out.
    Taxis wait to be full before leaving. However in morning that is easy. An employee starting at 11 may struggle.
    The 7 am employee taxis are a dime a dozen. Normally you find that if the taxi trip is 15 mins and work starts at 8, they aim for the 7:40 taxi rather than the 7:30, therefore the lateness starts with the employee.
    A mere acceptance of transport as a problem leaves you up the creek. It helps to enquire about taxi routes and difficulties to understand whether it is genuine transport problem or an excuse.

    Regarding pushing cars and employees on cellphones, I am afraid you have to blame yourself. It sounds as if the lack of discipline, on the basics has led to a situation of free for all.
    Remember the dog must wag the tail, not the tail the dog.

    The trick now, is not to go from friendly and comfortable to over zealous, but it needs to be reigned in immediately.
    Last edited by sterne.law@gmail.com; 07-Feb-15 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Add on
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    I have in the past suspended staff without pay for a few days,as Dave has, but I have always wondered if I am actually acting legally. We are members of the Building Industry Bargaining Council. Can anyone confirm that it is so or not?

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Suspension without pay is an extreme sanction, interviewed as a last resort/alternative to dismissal.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Unpaid suspensions really are at the extreme end of final written warning territory. The problem with unprovoked and unapologetic insubordination/insolence is a slap on the wrist definitely doesn't do the trick. It needs a very sharp paradigm adjustment...

    Which will either succeed, or fail spectacularly - either of which is actually progress
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Severe insolence can warrant dismissal at first instance, so an unpaid suspension can normally be justified.
    The beauty of suspension is that justice is seen to be done.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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