The U.S. jobs Web site CareerBuilder Thursday released its annual "Most Outrageous Excuses for Coming in Late" survey.
With 16 percent of all workers punching in late at least once a week, and 27 percent late once a month or more, it makes sense to have a good supply of plausible excuses at the ready. And don't get lazy about it. The boss has already heard the standards -- the golden oldies such as the traffic was horrendous, used by 31 percent of employees, lack of sleep (18 percent), bad weather (11 percent) or getting kids to school or daycare (8 percent). Ditto for blaming your tardiness on public transportation delays.
So you've got to get innovative. Here are a few of the most over-the-top excuses CareerBuilder collected from hiring managers:
-- My cat had the hiccups.
-- I thought I won the lottery (but, alas, didn't).
-- I got distracted watching "The Today Show."
-- My roommate got mad at me and cut the cord to my phone charger, so it didn't charge and my alarm didn't go off.
-- You mean my commute time doesn't count toward my work hours?
-- A fox stole my car keys.
-- My leg got trapped between the subway car and the platform (OK, this one turned out to be true).
-- Try the honest approach: I have no intention of getting to work before 9 a.m. (start time was 8 a.m.)
-- Sorry I'm late, I had a job interview with another firm.
-- I had to take a personal call from the state governor (Again, this one turned out to be true).
And you'd better make those excuses good: More than a third (34 percent) of employers say they've fired an employee for being late.
"Punctuality -- or lack thereof -- can impact how your commitment, reliability and performance are perceived by your employer," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "One of the best ways to make sure you get to work on time is to get organized and plan ahead. Lay out whatever you'll need for the workday the night before, plan to be at the office early, account for expected commute delays and eliminate distractions in your morning routine."
The nationwide survey was conducted between Nov. 9 and Dec. 5 by Harris Interactive among more than 7,000 U.S. employees and 3,000 employers across industries and company sizes.