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How to Write an Apology Letter for Being Late at Work

How to Write an Apology Letter for Being Late at Work

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Sometimes, life happens and you’re a few minutes late for work, often through no fault of your own.

If you are five minutes late once or twice, writing an apology letter could actually backfire.

It might come across as a little overly dramatic, which is not a signal that you want to send at work.

However, if you are extremely late, consistently late or late in a way that actually causes problem for your company, coworkers or boss, an apology letter is a good way to acknowledge that you understand the gravity of your offense and to start making amends.

It might even just help save your job, but it’s important to put the right things in the letter. In this post, we’ll help you figure out what to say.


An overview of the apology letter for being late to work

Some people are really bad at apologizing.

This doesn’t make them bad people–you might be one of them–but it does mean that a quick review of what should go into an apology is important.

An apology is unequivocal. It can explain, but it must not excuse.

A good apology also recognizes the harm done and explains how that harm will be remedied or how you will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Without these elements, an apology can seem insincere.

Your apology letter for being late to work should include all of these elements:

  • Be sure to use the words “I apologize” or “I am sorry”.
  • State the thing you did that was wrong.
  • Show that you know what the consequences of your tardiness were.
  • Explain why you were late but don’t excuse it.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Explain how you will remedy the problem.

We’ll cover how to make sure that you do all of these things below.

Starting your apology letter for being late at work

Your apology letter for being late to work is different from an apology letter for not attending an event.

Because this apology letter is work-related, it needs to be formatted like a formal business letter.

That means a heading at the top with your name and address, either left-justified or as letterhead, followed by the name and address of the person you are writing to and the date.

In your greeting, you should use the name that you call your manager by, whether that is their first or last name.

Your first sentence should include the apology, specifically using either the words “I am sorry” or “I apologize,” and what you are apologizing for.

For example:

I am sorry for being late for work by an hour for the third time on Thursday.

You could also use the phrase “my apologies” although you may want to read up on my apologies–meaning, usage, symbols and examples to make sure you are wielding this more formal wording effectively.

You should then demonstrate that you understand the consequences. For example, you might acknowledge that other staff had to fill in for you or that you missed an important meeting.
How to write an Apology Letter for Being Late at Work Update

Explaining and taking responsibility in your apology letter for being late

The next part of your letter is about briefly explaining the reason for your lateness.

You may have just been late because you overslept or for another straightforward reason, and if so, you can say this.

However, this part of the letter can get a little bit complicated.

You might have been late for private reasons–a medical issue that you do not wish to share or a fight with a family member.

You are not obligated to share these reasons. You can simply say something like “I was unable to leave home at my usual time for personal reasons.”

However, it is important to demonstrate that your explanation is not an excuse. One way to do this is by saying what you might have done differently.

For example, if you overslept, especially for the second or third time, you might say, “I should have set a backup alarm.”

Explaining how you will remedy the problem in an apology letter for being late to work

In the last part of your letter, you need to say how you are solving the problem.

For instance, if you take the bus and your bus is often late, you might say, “I will start catching the earlier bus to ensure that transit delays do not cause this problem in the future.”

If there were more severe consequences, such as your company losing a client or making one angry, you should address that:

“I have reached out to the client, apologized for my absence and rescheduled the meeting.”

Closing your apology letter for being late to work

At the end of your letter, you should reinforce that you are sorry, offer to help or modify your behavior in other ways and thank your manager.

This could mean writing something like “I regret that I caused problems for you and my coworkers. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do show my commitment to ABC Company. Thank you for your time and your understanding.”

If you are looking for inspiration for other ways to reinforce that you are sorry here, you could review 12 alternatives for “I apologize for the inconvenience.”

“Sincerely” is a good, safely professional sign off here.

Example 1 of an apology letter for being late to work

Beth Wilson
123 Easy Street
Los Angeles, California 99999
Peter Gonzales
Ace Productions
456 Pine Street
Los Angeles, California 11111
March 1, 2022
Dear Ms. Gonzales,
I am very sorry that I have been late for work three times in the past month. I realize that this has created an extra burden for my coworkers, who have to take over my phone duties alongside their other work until I get into the office.
The bus route that I take to work has recently changed, resulting in more traffic snarls than usual. I realize that it is my responsibility to account for this and that going forward, I need to start catching an earlier bus since the later one does not reliably get me to work on time.
Please let me know if I can take some work off my coworkers’ hands or do anything else to make up for my repeated tardiness and to show that I do consider myself a part of the team. I appreciate your time and your understanding.
Beth Wilson


Example 2 of an apology letter for being late to work

Trevor Jones
37 Oak Street
New York, New York 99999
Bob Brennan
Acme Industries
123 Industrial Drive
New York, New York 88888
April 10, 2022
Dear Bob,
I apologize for being over two hours late to work on Friday and missing the important client meeting we had scheduled. I know this could have resulted in losing the client altogether and that it gave the impression that I did not consider their time valuable.
As you know, I had a childcare issue come up at the last minute. I know that I should have had a backup plan in place in case my usual child care arrangements fell through, particularly on a day when something so important was planned. I have since made this backup plan. I have also contacted the client personally, discussed their concerns and assured them the incident will not be repeated.
On Thursday, I have a presentation rescheduled with the client, and I am confident I will be able to demonstrate our commitment to their needs despite my absence from Friday’s meeting. Please let me know if there are any additional steps I can take to make up for my tardiness. I value my position at Acme Industries, and I dislike letting down colleagues or clients.
I am genuinely sorry for the additional stress I caused, and I appreciate your understanding.
Trevor Jones