What should I do if my employee is regularly late? Or I am?

Always remember that the best way to avoid this problem is to listen carefully to each other about your scheduling challenges and establish a written work agreement that is explicit about work hours and/or the need for time flexibility on each side. But as we all know, sometimes even a clear work agreement doesn’t prevent late arrivals.

If an employee’s lateness becomes an issue for you, it should be addressed as soon as possible, ideally in a regular weekly check-in meeting. Talking directly about the problem might help diffuse tension early on and give you the chance to both reiterate your needs as an employer and figure out a solution. Often, a worker’s commute, parking challenges, or family scheduling get in the way of promptness. Do your best to get to the root of the problem and brainstorm ideas for what might help. If punctuality continues to be a problem after repeat discussions, it could be that you and the worker are not a good fit.

If your lateness is a regular problem, make sure that you have compensated the worker for the extra time she has stayed. But remember: this isn’t a solution to the problem of repeatedly coming home later than you said you would. Even if a worker says, “no problem” when you ask her if it’s okay to be late, it often is a problem that can undermine your relationship. A worker can be uneasy about saying how she really feels, fearing that it could cause conflict or, in her mind, jeopardize her job.

What you can do: If you can’t guarantee arrival at the time you specified when you hired a worker, renegotiate the job. Return to your work agreement–written or verbal–modify it, and ask her if she can accept the new job terms. This clarity will go a long way toward sustaining good will in a domestic workplace.