my coworker is regularly late and it impacts my job

A reader writes:

I work in an office for a high-level official as his staff assistant. I share an office and roles with a coworker a few years older than me. We are both responsible for providing administrative support to the director of our institute. The office needs coverage non-stop to answer phones and greet visitors. It is a demanding job and requires a lot of dedication and flexibility. I make it to work at least 15 minutes early everyday, and stay at least 30 minutes late. My coworker (and back-up) is wonderful to work with, when she is here. Several times a month she shows up several hours late, claiming that she slept through her alarm. If she is supposed to be in by 9 am, we won’t hear from her until 11 am. Sometimes she will not show up at all, and will have been posting pictures of herself out partying at a bar until 2 am the night before.

When she does not show up or comes in late, it is a huge inconvenience to me. Finding coverage to take a lunch break or even just a restroom break is not easy. She rarely apologizes and acts like this is no big deal. However, I think it is a big deal. She is in her 30’s working a highly professional job, where people are relying on her to be dependable. Again, she is super pleasant to work with otherwise. However, I get very annoyed when she continues to party on work nights and call out “hung over.” Is there a way to handle this without causing tension? I tried to talk to her about it last month – and I thought I got somewhere. But she has done it several more times since.

Without causing tension? Maybe not. But that’s not the realistic goal here. A realistic goal is to get it resolved. It would be nice if you can do that without it causing tension, but there’s no magic way to make people not upset when they’re called out on bad behavior. However, if tension results, that’s on her, not on you. She’s the one causing this situation.

You’ve tried to talking to her about it directly, and that hasn’t solved it. So now it’s time to talk to your boss, because this is directly affecting your work. I’d say something like this: “Several times a month, Jane comes in several hours late and says she slept through her alarm. When this happens, it causes X and Y, and I have to do Z, which is a problem because of W. I’ve tried talking to her about it but it’s continuing to happen, and I’m getting the sense that she doesn’t understand the impact on the office. Can you help me figure out how to handle this?”

Notice that with this language, you’re not just reporting wrongdoing; you’re framing it as a problem to be solved — which it is — and you’re doing it in a collaborative way.

{ 392 comments… read them below }

  1. illini02*

    I agree that you just need to talk to the boss, and as Alison said, frame it as a problem that is affecting your productivity, that way it doesn’t just seem like you are complaining. However I would say DO NOT bring up the pictures she posts of being out at 2am. That really has nothing to do with anything. The problem is her coming in late. Whether its because she is hungover or just watching Judge Judy in the morning, or missed a bus. When you start judging WHY she is coming in late, that takes away from the problem that needs solving

    1. Green*

      Agree, but I would also “unfriend” this coworker on Facebook or wherever OP is seeing these pictures. It doesn’t sound like this person is their actual “friend” (or else you’d probably be able to say “Hey, if you’re coming in late, and posting pictures partying, it doesn’t look good…”), and seeing more information on their personal life is impacting your working relationship.

      (Also, I was out late last night at a concert and posted pictures on Facebook, but I made it in on time. I’d hate for someone to think I was hungover just because I went out. I’m a grownup and can go out on a weeknight (and even have a few drinks!) if I want. However, that is also one of many reasons that I am “friends” with co-workers on LinkedIn but not on Facebook.)

      1. the_scientist*

        I know this is wildly off-topic…..but I mostly want to know: WHO ARE THE COWORKER’S FRIENDS? Like, who is she regularly partying with on weeknights? Is this a thing? My friends and I are all so boring; we virtually never go out on weeknights because we all have 9-5 type jobs. Maybe all her friends are service-industry type folks?

        On topic: I agree with not bringing up the facebook pictures. The reality is that the “why” of why coworker is late isn’t important; the actual fact of her lateness and how it’s impacting the OP’s ability to work is. OP, I’d also stop covering for your co-worker, which I know can be difficult if you personally like her. Start mentioning to the boss that you need help covering the phones because so-and-so is late. Don’t deprive yourself of bathroom breaks/lunch breaks to cover her butt.

        1. some1*

          Meh, I have a friend who is in her mid-30s like me and sings in a band that has shows on weeknights on the regular, as well as 9-5 job. She doesn’t get loaded at her shows, she takes a nap when she gets home from work on nights she will play, and drinks a lot of coffee the next AM.

        2. Burlington*

          I’ll cop to partying on weeknights. I live in DC, and there’s a significant “professional drinking” culture here. We don’t go out every night, but I’m out till 2 at least one night per week for a standing social occasion (where I usually drink) and often am out midnight-plus another night a week drinking with friends and colleagues, most of whom also have 9-5’s.

          1. The author of the question :)*

            ha! We live in the DC area! I guess this would be okay as long as you show up for work on time.
            Just this past Monday she sent an email out that she would not be coming in because she was “worn out.” I wish I could call out of work for being worn out!

            1. Noelle*

              Yes, I was wondering if you maybe work on the Hill? I’ve definitely had coworkers who act this way, but fortunately they haven’t impacted me as much as it sounds like this person does with you. :(

            2. John B Public*

              I *almost* want you to do the same thing to her, in a bit of perverse schadenfreude-see-how-it-feels!??! but ultimately it’s not helpful.

              But I want to.

            3. Ted Mosby*

              What?? This is so unfathomable to me. I don’t think my office is SUPER strict, but I would be fired in a minute if I was showing up HOURS late more than a terrible one time emergency thing.

              Sorry you have to deal with this.

          2. the_scientist*

            Huh, interesting. I totally wasn’t thinking about professional social activities, but that’s a really good point that there are many industries/fields with the “work hard, play hard” mentality….and in those situations, it’s probably important to put in the “face time”! I work in a field that emphasizes wellness and healthy eating habits and exercise and outdoor activity- I love it (and I am boring/ a total homebody, TBH, so it suits me) but I’m sure lots of people would hate it.

          3. Stephanie*

            Ha, I lived in DC too and also partook of the professional drinking culture. I didn’t do it nightly, but also had a regular social event (where I’d sometimes drink) and be out late. But I definitely knew my limit on what warded off a hangover. It did help as well that I had a job with a very flexible arrival time and very few meetings.

        3. CheeryO*

          Ehh, my core group of friends doesn’t party during the week, but I could easily stay out drinking until midnight twice a week if I wanted to. There are a handful of heavy social drinkers at my job, and I have a few friends with semi-questionable judgement who are always partying on weeknights (even with 9-5 jobs).

        4. Snargulfuss*

          Ha! I don’t even go out Friday nights because I’m so exhausted from the work week.

        5. Ann Furthermore*

          Ha – I’m the same way. I can count on one hand — make that one finger — the number of times I had to go to work hungover. I did it once in my early 20’s, and after that decided that there was no amount of fun that was worth having to make it through work hungover the next day.

          1. CA Admin*


            I had a friend graduate from nursing school while I was in college–that night, the 4 of us went through a bottle of tequila, a 6 pack of beer, and a 1/3 of a bottle of vodka. I was still unable to count by the time my retail shift started at 6pm the next day. Never did that again–it was too horrible.

        6. Connie-Lynne*

          When I was in my late 20s, I worked a day job … and also in night clubs as a lighting designer three days a week. If facebook existed back then, there would totally have been pictures of what looked like me partying on weeknights.

          I did, of course, always make it in to the day job on time.

      2. The author of the question :)*

        Again, not that it really matters, but she was hung-over. She even said so the next day when she came to work. I think most people can balance a social life with a work life. She, apparently, cannot.

        1. Green*

          Oy. If she told you at work she was hungover, then that’s a different story. I still wouldn’t tell that to the boss; I’d say something in the moment, ranging from friendly (“That’s what weekends are for! Not Tuesdays!”) to blunt (“I’ve actually been waiting for you to get here so I can run to the bathroom/take lunch. It’s hard to get coverage when you’re late.”).

        2. illini02*

          I still don’t know if that matters. You are pointing to a symptom, not the problem. Hungover, tired, whatever. Doesn’t matter. I’ve gone to work hungover, and done my job just fine (although I felt like crap). Being hungover and completing your job, and not showing up for 2+ hours are very different

          1. Green*

            Announcing to others that you are hungover is a little more questionable than “Ugh, I didn’t sleep well last night/baby was up all night with an earache/my allergies are killing me.”

            1. Natalie*

              Whether or not the co-worker behaves unprofessionally isn’t OP’s battle to fight. All the OP should be focusing on are the things co-worker does that directly impede OP.

            2. SAF*

              No, it’s really not. The question is not, “Why can’t you do your job?” the question is “Can you do your job?”

              1. Green*

                Personally, why matters to me. If someone’s constantly late because they’re a caregiver for a dying parent, I’ll be willing to be directly impeded a lot more than if someone is constantly late because drinking is fun.

                1. Ella*

                  I think it’s not your business why they’re out, though, even if it’s for a reason that is unwise (like partying the night before). It’s great that you support me caring for an I’ll family member, but honestly, I’m not going to share my family’s trials and tribs with you. One of the things I’ve said (and seen said) in multiple places and at multiple times on this blog is that how an employee uses their PTO/sick time is none of the employer’s business.

                  That said, I do think the boss needs to get pulled in on this. AT A MINIMUM, the coworker needs to be calling in and leaving a voicemail (or something) either before she’s expected to arrive at work, or the minute she wakes up when she finds she’s slept through her alarm. Leaving the OP hanging for multiple hours without knowing if coworker is just late or if she had an accident on her way into work isn’t cool.

                2. Green*

                  The co-worker is making it OP’s business by voluntarily oversharing. It’s one thing if OP were sleuthing it together based on putting together her timeline on Facebook and making guesses. It’s another when coworker comes in and is like “WHOO! SO HUNGOVER!” Similarly, when I have discretion as to how flexible I am going to be and how much out of my way I’m going to go to help a colleague, the why –if they offer it– might matter.

                  And how you use your PTO is not employer’s business. How you use sick leave is. If you’re not sick, you’re misusing sick leave.

      3. hnl123*

        I worked in a “young” work environment where people regularly partied till 2-3am.
        We all made it to work at 8am and functioned properly — with LOTS of coffee :)
        No excuses for this co-worker. It is absolutely possible to go out, have fun, and still be a responsible worker.

    2. SJP*

      Yea I was going to mention this.. it’s so tempting to ‘tattle’ and tell your boss why and that she is going out getting drunk on a ‘school night’ but don’t. I think it would add less weight to you request to say something about it..
      Personally if I was a boss and I had to admins and one was not coming in regularly and out getting drunk i’d wanna know and i’d be pissed but some bosses don’t and might see it as moaning or something

      1. SJP*

        Sorry should mentioned It shouldn’t take weight away from your concern but with some bosses it could.

        Plus how has your boss not noticed? Are they out a lot? or not office based a lot? You mentioned that you bought it up with her but was that as a peer? or a supervisor? im curious

        1. The author of the question :)*

          I brought it up to her as a peer, because we have to work together to schedule leave. I had planned to leave early that day to make it to a doctors appointment. I was very upset that she showed up late that day when I needed to leave early. I had to cancel my doctors appointment, because not only could I not leave early – I had to stay an hour late to cover her shift.

          It is a weird situation. I am the immediate staff assistant to the director. My coworker supports the deputy director, but we share an office and basically support the entire office together. As long as I am there holding down the fort and keeping the office flowing I feel like her absence is not noticed. I never complain and just let it get to me on the inside. Her supervisor will come out and ask me where she is, and I will say she overslept, and her supervisor will just nod and move on….

          1. The author of the question :)*

            I mean to say that she did NOT show up that day even though she knew I had to leave early.
            She called 2 hours late to say she overslept and was on her way – then 30 minutes later called and said she was not going to make it in.

            1. JMW*

              Perhaps you should have gone to your doctor appointment anyway. I would have said to my boss, that Coworker called in that she had overslept and then called in to say she wasn’t coming at all, and that I had a doctor’s appointment that I needed to go to. Let your boss experience your inconvenience in order to see the problem fully.

                1. Amy*

                  You’re enabling her when you do that. The boss has to feel the consequences and send some other consequences her way.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Nothing wrong with saying, “I have to leave. I have an appointment I cannot cancel. When will you be here?”

              1. AdAgencyChick*

                YES. Right now no one else thinks there’s a problem because OP is willing to be the solution every time. But one afternoon OP’s (or Jane’s) boss has to spend covering phones because OP decides not to let this coworker’s irresponsibility mess with her plans, and I bet this problem gets, if not completely solved, at least addressed.

                “Boss, I need to leave at 5 to see the doctor. Jane and I agreed that she’d cover for me, but she’s still not here. What should we do?”

                (If the answer to this is “Can’t you just change your appointment?” practice the Miss Manners skill of “I’m afraid that won’t be possible.” But if your boss is at all reasonable, she’ll probably march into Jane’s boss’s office and say, “Jane is supposed to start covering the front desk at 2 today and she’s not here. Fix it!”)

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                Yep, this. I covered for a bad boss for more than a year, because “someone had to keep things running.” Yeah, turns out you can’t do two peoples’ jobs at once and nobody appreciated the huge personal sacrifices I was making. All they saw was that my attitude had soured and that I wasn’t getting things done efficiently.

            2. Green*

              You may want to ask her to take vacation days for these kinds of things? Calling in sick day-of is usually for things you can’t plan in advance. Knowing your college friends are in town for a bizarrely-midweek bachelorette party and that you’re probably not going to be thrilled when 7 am rolls around is something she can plan in advance. If she can’t do that, then she likely has an alcohol problem where she goes out to dinner intending to have just one drink and can’t bring herself to close out by a reasonable hour… in that case, depending on your relationship, a compassionate reach-out/check-in might be in order.

              1. Natalie*

                OP is her peer, not her supervisor, so I think addressing how exactly she takes her PTO is getting overly/inappropriately involved.

                1. Green*

                  Because OP and OP’s coworker do joint scheduling for leave, asking her to plan in advance when she’s going out and take time off for it is not overly/inappropriately involved in my book.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Green, no, it wouldn’t be in general, but it seems to me that this is a case where the co-worker is already breaching that by calling in too much or inappropriately. The conversation about whether co-worker is calling in appropriately, too much, using the right type of leave, etc etc are all issues the co-worker’s manager needs to address. For one thing, it’s there job, and for another, the OP doesn’t actually have any authority to handle this kind of issue.

              2. KR*

                I do this. Example, I’m having a party Friday and I specified that I could not work past 2 the day of the party and could work no earlier that 10 the day after the party. When I worked an early morning gig at a coffee shop once, I asked for a day off because I was going to a concert the night before. I had the day off, but the manager redid the schedule when someone else asked for the day off and took my day off away (I didn’t tell her what it was for, not that it should matter.) When I told her why I asked for the day off, she told me to come in whenever I could late like that fixed the problem. haha.

            1. The author of the question :)*

              Do I wait for her to it again? Or do I say something now? Side note – Coworker is taking 3 weeks off to go to Germany…

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Say something now. Today if you can! “This has been an ongoing issue, and I’ve tried to address it on my own but it’s continued to happen.”

              2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                If this had happened once, I’d say wait until it happens again. But it’s happened repeatedly, including after you talked with her about it. It’s time to get the boss involved. I don’t think it matters that she’s about to be in Germany – three weeks isn’t that long, so unless she has some kind of spiritual revelation about being reliable while she’s looking out over the Rhine, her behavior probably won’t miraculously change while she’s away.

                1. Heather*

                  some kind of spiritual revelation about being reliable while she’s looking out over the Rhine

                  If this works, there are a few people I’m going to ship off to Germany ASAP.

                2. Jennifer*

                  Yeah, but the boss is very likely to forget about it being a problem for the 3 weeks of coworker being gone. I would wait to bring it up until the coworker is back.

                3. UK Nerd*

                  If there’s anywhere to have a spiritual revelation about reliability and efficiency, it’s Germany. Hasn’t happened to me yet though. Maybe I need another holiday.

          2. the gold digger*

            In a situation like this, sometimes it is necessary to push the pain to the person who can actually solve the problem. You are obviously super conscientious, which is good, but that is not solving the bigger problem. Maybe stop holding down the fort?

          3. Jennifer*

            If her supervisor doesn’t have any kind of problem with it, ah….well, I’m not sure if you can get anywhere with them. Because bottom line is, you don’t have the authority/power to make her stop. You can’t write her up every time she flakes for 3 hours, all you can do is ask politely and that hasn’t worked. Someone higher up than you has to get on board with doing something about it.

    3. The author of the question :)*

      Thanks so much for this response. You are completely right about not bringing up the pictures. I had not thought about it that, but you are right. It really does not matter why she is coming in late – just that she is.

      1. yasmara*

        Stop covering for her! It sounds like she’s calling *you* to report her absence. She should be calling her boss. If you continue to cover for her, she will continue to take advantage of you.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is a good point — make her deal with the boss on this. Put her call through to the boss yourself if necessary. ‘Oh, let me put you through to Charlie so you can let him know.’

          1. Natalie*

            This would be perfect. And don’t wait for her to say yes or no, just transfer her before she can respond.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Oh, this is a great response. She should have been clearing all this time off with her boss right along, anyway.

            She thinks she can get away with this because, she actually can. She has been getting away with this right along.

  2. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

    Because the LW is so dependable, her coworker probably has no idea what it is actually like to be left alone trying to balance what sounds like a demanding workload.

    Alison’s advice is spot-on. There is no way to avoid tension, and even though it would be nice, Alison is right that that is not the goal. I have no words of wisdom to add other than good luck! I hope you and your boss are able to get this problem resolved!

    1. The author of the question :)*

      Yes – I think that has something to do with it. I have tried to “brand” myself as being reliable and dependable. Everyone likes my coworker (including me, really), so that makes it tough. She is super efficient when she is at work, it is just this one weird issue! I did not want to appear to be tattling on her, but I think the advice I am seeing here has given me a better way to approach it.

      1. Jessica*

        I think the advice you’re receiving is best. Being reliable and dependable should always be an asset, not a ticket for less reliable people to take advantage of that. And that’s what she’s doing, whether she realizes it or not. Your director needs to know because this could impact them quite a bit if, for some reason, you did need backup.

      2. Purple Jello*

        It is NOT tattling. Her practice of NOT fulfilling her responsibilities to your employer is affecting your work. You need to do what Alison said, and bring it to your supervisor.

        1. Nina*

          Alison, I don’t want to derail the thread, but I hear this a lot on this site, people saying they don’t want to “tattle” on their coworkers, because it’s been ingrained in their minds from a young age. I know nine times out of ten it’s not tattling anyway, but are there examples of when it would be considered tattling?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Stuff that affects no one and doesn’t matter:
            “Bob is two minutes late every day” (unless that actually matters)
            “Bob goes to bars a lot outside of work”
            “Bob is snotty about the quality of the pudding in the cafeteria and thinks he’s too good for it”

              1. Jessica*

                Manager – “The best way to solve this is obviously for me to eat ALL the pudding.”

            1. afiendishthingy*

              Ha. Yeah I had a coworker who told on people for things like putting their feet on an unused chair. Definitely contributing to good morale there!

              1. Anony-moose*

                Yep, I’ve experienced a coworker who tracked and reported people’s time in and out of the office. I was not thrilled when my boss said that there were concerns about my attendance – especially since I am the one on our team who is in the office the most! Although the conversation was “I could give a sh*t about this but just know that every move you make is being watched.” Way to make employees feel like adults, right!

                1. Ruffingit*

                  That is so ridiculous and the managers you worked for ought to be ashamed of themselves for not addressing it with the co-worker doing the tracking. You should never have been made aware of this, the stupid tracker jacker should have been told in no uncertain terms to stop stalking people like that.

          2. Green*

            The letters in which Allison says “Yeah, you’re being unreasonable, suck it up and deal” more politely than that are typically “tattling.”

          3. TNTT*

            In this context, I think tattling would be closer to something like this…

            OP: “Hey boss, Crappy Coworker was out until 2am last night, which I know because I saw it on Facebook, and then she was like 30 minutes late today.”
            Boss: “….. So?”

            Framed this way, it’s not presented as work issue, it’s a “I have a problem with the way this coworker runs her life issue.” In my mind, anyway…

          4. Naomi*

            Tattling is bringing up stuff that’s not relevant to work performance or the issue at hand. In this case, telling the boss about the coworker’s absences and the impact on the lw’s work is not tattling. But mentioning the facebook photos would be tattling in my opinion, because that information isn’t necessary to address the issue.

          5. Eliza Jane*

            I would say “tattling” is “reporting things mainly for the purpose of getting the other person in trouble/making them look bad.”

            If your company has a no-social-media-at-work policy, and your coworker has a habit of checking facebook on her phone 2-3 times a day while waiting for a 10-minute report to run, reporting that is probably tattling.

            If your coworker spends all her time on Facebook and isn’t meeting deadlines, and you’re left covering for her, reporting that isn’t tattling: there’s a real problem, and the Facebook issue is probably information that will help in addressing it.

          6. LCL*

            John Doe didn’t empty the wastebasket in the company vehicle.
            Jane Doe left trash in the wastebasket in the vehicle.
            Jane Doe left a newspaper in the company vehicle. It is harassment because I don’t agree with the mainstream media’s liberal agenda.
            John Doe is a secret smoker, he never smokes in the car but it is on his clothes and I can smell it.
            John Doe wears stinky cologne and it smells up the car. Complaint made by a person who never ever wiped down the inside of a vehicle, ever.
            Jane Doe used up all of the pens in my car.
            Jane Doe used a paper towel to wipe of the headlights of the car and left the paper towel in the vehicle console.
            John Doe used my personal clipboard, which I left in the car expecting it to be not used and everyone would know it is my personal property.
            John Doe changed all the presets on the car radio (from the old days when this was done mechanically not electronically.)
            John Doe adjusted the car seat from where I had it set.
            Somebody moved my office mailbox from it’s usual place in the rack of mailboxes. This is obviously harassment.

            These are all real world examples. I write them off as employees venting because they have a demanding high stress job.

            1. The Strand*

              When I first read this I thought, well, it is kind of weird to have someone use your personal stuff and start retuning the radio… then I realized you were talking about a company vehicle, not some weirdo reaching into your personal car! Yep. This is petty stuff.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        There is a difference between being reliable vs covering for people.

        From what you are saying here the bosses are not even aware there is a problem. And you are not going to impress her with your reliability. She just going to keep using you to cover for her. Sometimes people are as nice as pie for a reason.

    2. Jessica*

      That’s a great point. Coworker knows that things won’t fall through the cracks because of dependable OP. Coworker needs to grow up. No way around it… OP needs to go to the boss. I wouldn’t worry about not causing tension. She’s the one that put you in this position.

  3. Katie the Fed*

    What is the attendance policy there? I can’t imagine someone can just roll in hours late without having to talk to the boss, right? And you’d better believe I know if someone is hours late. Jeez.

    You owe your coworker nothing here. She needs to grow up and get it together. Her inability to adult properly is affecting your ability to work. Talk to the boss. It’s only awkward because SHE’s not doing her job. That’s all.

    1. anne*

      i agree, i can’t imagine how the boss doesn’t know about 1 of his 2 staff assistants being late or unreliable. 10-20 minutes late in a flexible environment is one thing … 2 HOURS late in a frenetic environment is something else entirely!

      1. Jessica*

        I know! I was thinking, “How could the director not notice??” But maybe they are out of the office quite a bit or ridiculously busy. I’ve had bosses that honestly wouldn’t notice, as long as some coverage was there.

        1. The author of the question :)*

          Jessica – that is exactly right. Our director is so incredibly busy that he just does not concern himself with the administrative stuff – as long as there is someone there. If he is not on TV he is traveling somewhere to give a lecture.

          Her supervisor seems to just not want to be confrontational. I think she notices the absence, but nothing is done about it.

          1. Jessica*

            Management fail, on the supervisor’s part. Do you not have the same supervisor? Either way, that’s not cool, but if you do have the same supervisor, why is it OK that you are always picking up the slack? That’s irritating.

      2. Jessa*

        I think the issue is the boss doesn’t care because it does not impact them. If OP is covering everything, and not saying it’s an issue, they probably don’t think they have to deal with it, since it means nothing to their work.

    2. IT Kat*

      Okay, so “inability to adult properly” is now my new favorite term. And I can see so many uses for it….

      1. Lefty*

        “Inability to Adult Properly” – yet another awesome thing I have learned from the AAM community.

        If there had been an exit form to fill out when I dismissed my last boyfriend (before my husband) from my life, “Inability to Adult Properly” is definitely the box that I would have checked in the ‘Reason for Termination’ section.

    3. The author of the question :)*

      This might be the most frustrating thing about the situation. She sends me and only me a text. NOT her supervisor. So then I feel like it is all on me. I just pick up all the slack and suck it up – so I feel like the staff members do not even “notice” that she is not there. Again, I think because she is so likable, people let it slide.

      Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for having zero tolerance for tardiness, but honestly I cannot understand why it is so hard for her to wake up on time!

      1. blackcat*

        I view “tardiness” as 5-30 minutes late, tops. Tolerance for this, if it happens infrequently, is a good thing. Busses are late, accidents on the roads slow things down, etc. Life happens.

        2+ hours is a significant portion of the workday. This isn’t about “zero tolerance for tardiness” it’s about expecting her to do her job.

        1. The author of the question :)*

          THANK YOU! Why do I feel so guilty for being so upset with her? I do not understand my feelings?

          1. Morning, keep the streets empty for me*

            Why do you feel guilty? My guess is that she somehow, subtly and perhaps not even consciously, makes you feel guilty. I realize I’m kinda wandering into stuff like neuro-linguistic programming and other things that have less than a solid scientific basis, but after 30 years at a large corporation, 20+ years of marriage, and raising two kids, I’m convinced that (essentially) people learn how to push other people’s buttons to elicit behaviors that work to their advantage. And some people are very, very good at it.

            1. Colorado*

              Yes! Well stated. You feel guilty because you are a good person and want to help others. Stop helping her, we all need to fall once in a while. Good luck!

            2. Kai*

              Yes–and also, since you two are in the same position at the same level, I think there’s an implicit understanding that you need to have each other’s back and watch out for one another. Which only works if you’re both reliable and behaving professionally in the first place, which the coworker isn’t.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Actually, this makes sense. Coworker’s plan is to be so VERY nice to everyone so she can come and go as she pleases. I see it’s working.

          2. Lauren*

            I am SO resentful when I have to deal with irresponsible colleagues. Not just because of the extra work, but because they seem to get all the fun of being flaky but also get paid the same as me, or more, or are sometimes even more widely liked because people are drawn to their “fun” personality. (Kristen from three jobs ago, I’m still thinking of you!) I think that you recognize that those are not emotions that you want to take to your boss, so you’re having a hard time separating what problems you should communicate.

            1. Ezri*

              Yep, this. I’ve got a colleague who was hired with me who gets paid more and works less. As in, barely sticks around six hours a day. It doesn’t directly affect my job, and I’ve tried to take Alison’s advice and mind my own business… but it’s incredibly infuriating when I’m swamped and he strolls out for long lunches and then takes off 2 hours before me. Grrrr.

              Going back to OP, though, you’ve definitely got concrete examples for why your coworker’s lateness is a problem – skipped doctor’s appointments, can’t get coverage for lunch, can’t get all the work done. You shouldn’t feel bad telling the boss that – it’s not your fault!

              1. Not So NewReader*

                OP’s boss would be interested in knowing that OP is not getting her proper break(s).

          3. alma*

            I wrote below about a low-performing coworker I had. This woman was MASTERFUL at pulling you into her freak-outs. Like, even after I’d been around the block with her umpteen times and was entirely done with her shit, she would still catch me off guard sometimes and pull me into her panic about Critical Work That Was Impossible To Finish In Time. It wouldn’t be until I was walking away that I’d be like “Oh yeah… it’s impossible to finish in time because you waited until the absolute last second to get started.”

            I agree completely with the advice to make your coworker text her boss directly. You can even say something like you’re too busy with all the additional work you have to cover (ha), so would she mind doing it herself?

            1. Michelle*

              Me, too. I have to “help” one of the long-time directors with an event, which means I do all the work and she gets all the credit. I brought it up to my boss, the Executive Director, and his only response was “She really needs your help and you are so good at it”. If she needs that much help, she should just stay home and let them send her a paycheck and let someone who can actually fulfill the responsibilities of the position have it!
              *Sorry- this event and person really pushes my buttons. My supervisor normally stands up for me and won’t let any abuse my help as an admin, except that one person. It’s extremely frustrating!*

          4. Nina*

            IME, confrontation is difficult, and it’s even harder when you get along with the person. You mentioned that your coworker is very nice and does good work. But her frequent tardiness is a serious issue and needs to be addressed immediately. It’s affecting your job, your life (the canceled doctor’s appointment), and as long as you’re intercepting the call from her (so the supervisor won’t get involved) and handling her workload, the tardiness will continue.

          5. JB*

            Because so often we are socialized to be accommodating? And you are probably subconsciously picking up on the metamessage she’s sending based on how she handles it–like this isn’t a big deal, you shouldn’t treat it like a big deal, and if you do, you are the type of person who makes a big deal out of nothing, and *you’re* the problem.

            I think we so often pick up on things that are never said, and that’s what we’re reacting to, which it makes it hard to explain to ourselves and others and hard to defend. It’s like the studies showing that many women are aware of the fact that they will be disliked if they ask for a raise, so they don’t ask. I don’t know any women in my circle who have said out loud, “if I ask, people won’t want to work with me, which will make it harder for me to do my job and to get promoted later.” I don’t think we had ever put it into words. But after that study came out, some of us talked about it and realized that’s exactly how we’d felt.

          6. CEMgr*

            I understand the guilt because I’ve felt it myself. Here’s a possible explanation: I believe you may feel guilty for slightly/briefly descending into the “tattling” mindset, a la junior high: “ooh, she’s bad, let’s get her in trouble”. As Alison and many others have said, cleanse your mind of any wish or desire to get her “busted”, and focus in a professional way on the work issue, along with respect for the dignity of everyone involved. If you do this thoroughly, I think those guilty feelings will be greatly relieved.

          7. annedoozle*

            I haven’t read all the comments, so my apologies if this has been brought up already. Are you sure you feel guilty? Or are you nervous or afraid of the conflict that could likely arise between you and your colleague if you take steps that could get her in hot water with her supervisor? If you like her it would be understandable that you don’t want her to be mad at you. It sounds like she isn’t big on taking personal responsibility for her actions so it wouldn’t be surprising if she did get upset with you.

          8. Carpe Librarium*

            Because if you were to say “sucks to be you” and just go home after she was more than 30 minutes late, you know that the person you are both paid to admin for is the one who would be the most inconvenienced.

          9. Bunny*

            If it helps, consider this:

            Right now, you are not helping your co-worker. It is highly unlikely that the two of you will be working together in the same environment for the rest of her working life. Whether it’s because you move on to something new or she does, eventually she will find herself either in an environment where she doesn’t have co-workers willing to cover for her or where she has more actively involved management that isn’t willing to put up with her behaviour.

            And she will be completely incapable of dealing with that, because she won’t have any skill or practice at this aspect of adulting. Most people in their 20s and 30s have no problem balancing work and their personal lives. It’s well past time for your co-worker to learn. And the only way that will happen is if there are consequences for her actions.

            Next time you have an appointment you need to go to, don’t cancel it for her. Especially not if she knew about it beforehand and still chooses to go out, get drunk, and leave you in the lurch. (I’d have been FURIOUS in your position, and I’d have told her how much she let me down, too).

      2. HumbleOnion*

        When she texts you, reply back “Ok – I’ll let Supervisor know.” And then do it. Otherwise, it kinda seems like you’re covering for her.

        As for the zero tolerance for tardiness feeling, it seems like you’re at the ‘bitch eating crackers’ point. Which is totally understandable.

        1. JMegan*

          Yes, definitely let your boss know when she sends these texts. Tell her that you’re doing it, and forward them to the boss without comment. Just “FYI, passing this along from Jane.”

          You should still have the talk with your boss as Alison suggested above, but you need to stop sitting on those texts. Because it’s his job to manage her attendance, not yours, and it could definitely come back to bite you if he thinks you have been covering for her.

          1. Adonday Veeah*

            Do this, and ask the supervisor how s/he plans to cover for his/her employee’s absence, since you have an appointment and must be away.

          2. Ella*

            …am I the only one who’s starting to wonder what she puts in her time card? If her supervisor has to approve it, presumably he’s seeing the total of time she’s away, even if he’s not thinking about it on a micro level. But if he’s not aware when she’s gone, and if they have a system where employees can alter their own time sheets, how do we know she’s even noting her time correctly and taking PTO when she’s late? She may just be claiming everything as general salary which should get her fired.

        2. TeapotCounsel*

          >When she texts you, reply back “Ok – I’ll let Supervisor know.” And then do it.

          1. The author of the question :)*

            I have done that the last two times. I hope that it helps the supervisor realize how often it is happening

            1. Ella*

              Hopefully you’re like me and are too lazy to delete texts. Since she’s texting you, you could use that to retroactively document how much work she’s missed, which will give your boss a more concrete idea of the problem.

      3. Natalie*

        So how does that work? Does the supervisor not notice she is hours late, or are you passing along the message?

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, you answered this below – you tell your supervisor that she is late. I think you should stop doing that. She’s a grown up who can tell her own boss that she is late. It ends up putting you in the middle of this situation, when there’s no reason for you to be there.

      4. Cheesecake*

        OP, coming a couple of hours late or not showing up at all is a legit ground for immediate dismissal and not “please don’t do it” conversations. You talked to her – nothing changed. Now it is time for serious conversations with boss and HR. But honestly i am totally surprised no one has noticed it! Because if boss hasn’t noticed she is not there, he sucks and the blame for things going wrong will be entirely on you.

      5. Katie the Fed*

        Forward the message to your supervisor. She doesn’t work for you – you have no authority to grant her leave or flexibility.

        Your supervisor is failing here.

      6. OriginalEmma*

        You need to stop forwarding that message along. It’s clearly lost its impact with your higher-ups because they don’t do anything about it.
        Whenever she texts you that she’s late or not coming in, you need to redirect her to HER supervisor. Do not pass Go, do not forward that text. You’re not her boss and you shouldn’t be the go-between.

        1. Bunny*

          Yes. From now on, when she texts you, tell her she needs to contact the supervisor directly. The only concern I have is then, what happens if she doesn’t do that and you hear nothing from your supervisor, and it’s getting close to time for you to leave with no sign of the co-worker.

          Do you:
          1- Wait an hour after co-worker texts and then go to supervisor to ask if co-worker has called and what their plans are for coverage
          2- Leave at your allotted time, swinging by supervisor as you leave to say “I trust you have coverage for co-worker covered”

          Because one feels like you’re still having to do the actual job of dealing with co-worker’s absence, and the other feels more likely to get you in trouble than co-worker if it turns out you knew about her absence, said nothing and made no plans for coverage after your boss has grown used to you taking care of it all.

          I feel like you need to have a conversation with co-worker first. Where you say something that adds up to:
          Your continued absence and lateness without notice is causing a lot of strain on my workload and my life. I am not, and have never been, the person you should be texting to report lateness and absence. From now on, I will ignore texts from you about that and continue my job on the assumption that you have spoken to Boss and that coverage for you has been arranged.

          Because I wonder, OP. What would happen at work if you had an emergency? If you were in an accident, or seriously unwell, or had to take sudden time off to deal with a family emergency, would your co-worker have your back to the degree you’ve had theirs? Would they stay late to cover the work, cancel their plans and make coverage arrangements for you? Would they even turn up themselves? Or would you find yourself returning to work after a serious situation to find half the work hasn’t been done because your co-worker was drunk partying and off sick the exact same amount she is normally?

      7. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        It strikes me as incredibly unlikely that the appropriate “notifying my workplace of needing a sick day” protocol is to send a single text message to a peer. No one is noticing her absence because SHE’S NOT PROPERLY NOTIFYING ANYONE OF HER ABSENCE. Find out what the actual reporting structure is (if you don’t know it already) and the next time she texts you, tell her she needs to tell the correct person (which is, I’m presuming, not you).

        Basically, stop covering for her, and notify your supervisor and ask how you should handle it whenever her absence directly interferes with your life (for example, that doctor’s appointment you mentioned – “Boss, I’ve had this appointment on the books for 3 weeks and it’s related to my health so it’s really important that I keep it, but Flakette called in sick today so we’re lacking coverage. How would you like me to handle this?”). Right now, she’s getting away with this because you’re allowing it to be only your problem – make it her supervisor’s/the office’s problem, and I can just about guarantee you it will be addressed.

        1. JMegan*

          Right now, she’s getting away with this because you’re allowing it to be only your problem – make it her supervisor’s/the office’s problem, and I can just about guarantee you it will be addressed.

          Yes. Slightly different situation, but I had a boss once who decided I didn’t need an access card to the main office because I was going to be working out of other locations most of the time. Which seems reasonable, except for two things. First, I ended up being at the main office more than we anticipated, and more importantly, you needed an access card to get *out* of the office, including to the washroom.

          Solution? I just called my boss to let me out, every time I needed to go anywhere. It didn’t take more than a day or two of interruptions before he decided maybe I should have that access card after all! And this principle applies to you as well. Push the inconvenience your coworker is causing back to the person who is in charge of solving it, and I bet things will happen pretty quickly.

      8. Jessa*

        Okay, I think maybe there’s another issue here. You need to tell her she cannot notify you, but she HAS to notify her boss (or whatever person is in charge of this) directly. Text her back – sorry you have to tell x yourself. Texting me is not notice you will be late. And bring this up when you have the “she’s late, she doesn’t call, she only tells me and not the appropriate person,” talk. Don’t let her make you the point of notification unless it’s your job to be the point of notification. She’s avoiding taking on being told directly when calling in that it’s an issue.

      9. mdv*

        Maybe one of the questions you can ask your own supervisor is, “When so-and-so ‘calls in’, she usually does that by sending a text message to me, instead of her own supervisor — should I be forwarding those texts to her supervisor? What would you like me to do when that happens?”

      10. Not So NewReader*

        It is so hard for her to wake up on time because no one has told her it’s not optional.

        She has not been told she must be on time for work all. the. time.

        She knows she can get away with it, so she does it.
        Some people require more supervision than other people.

  4. Kai*

    Ha, I had a coworker like this. She left eventually, but not before complaining to me when she was formally written up for coming to work late on the regular (and causing inconveniences for me). I really had to bite my tongue for that one.

    1. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      “But you are regularly late…” would have been my response. Ellipsis included.

      1. Adam*

        For some reason when I encounter people like this I feel like I’m supposed to be sitting in an episode of “Friends”, where everyone somehow has the time to sit around and leisurely sip coffee in the middle of the day….Am I the only one?

      2. Kai*

        Right? I wish I’d said something at the time. I just kind of stared at her but I don’t think she realized how ridiculous she was being.

    2. Morning, keep the streets empty for me*

      I like Alison’s advice on this. The only thing I ponder – because I’m such a softy – is whether to give the co-worker a Final Warning that if she continues with her problem behavior, I’m going to have no choice but to take it to management.

      I guess it would depend on the nature of the relationship with the co-worker. If I don’t give her a Final Warning and management “counsels” her on her behavior, she’s probably going to figure out who tipped them off. But I don’t know. The intent of the Final Warning is to be direct and transparent. But it may simply come off as an ultimatum – which is not a good thing. Thoughts?

      1. Jessica*

        I’m on the fence about that… if it was a good relationship of mutual respect, I could see coworker changing her ways. But coworker obviously doesn’t respect OP’s time and is being flat-out selfish, whether she realizes it or not. I feel like this could just as easily make coworker be better about covering her tracks, not change her behavior. I think OP has been more than patient… it’s time to go to The Boss Man or Woman.

      2. Cupcake*

        This person is not the OP’s direct report, and a “final warning” would actually be like implying that she is this person’s keeper, possibly generating a “too big for your britches” response from Party Gal. OP tried to talk peer-to-peer w/ Party Gal, and it did not work. That WAS the final warning.

      3. Artemesia*

        A warning might be warranted for less egregious conduct, but she has already talked with this woman and nothing has changed. I’d be so done with this. And yes, the pain needs to fall on the boss not on the OP.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree. She has already warned her coworker. And it sounds like she has warned her on more than one occasion.
          A good boss would handle that if confronted by saying “OP asked you to come in on time. And you are still having problems getting here on time. Since nothing has changed, that is when I get involved.”

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Exactly. And OP shouldn’t even have to be asking her peer to come in on time!

        2. beckythetechie*

          I think the warning phase is past as well. It’s time for explanations, should the guilt come directly from the coworker. “I’ve spoken to you before about this as your peer. You chose to ignore me and continue to hang me out to dry. Management has to take care of it from here on out; I’m not a babysitter.”

  5. Adam*

    It’s cool to live an active happening lifestyle. Whatever keeps her young. But it is imperative that she learn to balance that with her commitments. So long as she can do that job on time it doesn’t matter if she was up until 2am while she was out partying or at home speed reading sci-fi novels. If one alarm doesn’t cut it she gets two, one of which she places across the room so she has to get her but out of bed to turn off so it’s harder to ignore.

    But anyways Allison is right. This is now a problem for her manager to solve.

    1. hayling*

      This doesn’t sound like “active happening lifestyle” it sounds like “irresponsible party girl bordering on alcoholism.”

      1. Adam*

        “Irresponsible party girl” for sure. I’m not ready to make the leap to budding alcoholic based on the info. Calling in “hung over” is a pretty common excuse from what I see of those who don’t take their job seriously.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yeah–I don’t think we need to diagnose her. It’s what she’s doing in relation to the job that’s the problem.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            True, but irrespective of the OP’s issue, binge drinking to the point that it disrupts the rest of your life is still a drinking problem, even if you only do it once in a while.

            Just a peeve of mine that people are often under the mistaken impression that alcoholism always means daily drinking. Binge drinking is a problem however often it occurs, especially among college students.


            1. Burlington*

              I actually just learned that the vast majority of alcohol poisoning deaths occur in middle-aged people! Something like 70% of them are between 35 and 65. I was surprised!

            2. Jessa*

              Yes, once maybe you get so drunk you’re out of it, especially if it’s your first time drinking or something, but after that a mature person does not allow themselves to get drunk (at least not when they have responsibilities after.)

      2. Helen*

        If I forgot to turn my alarm on I would probably wake up one hour late, if that. *Maybe* an hour and a half if I went to a concert or something the night before and went to bed really late. Sleeping in late for hours is really strange to me.

        I wonder how long this has been going on–maybe she’s going on interviews. Or maybe she is receiving treatment for a condition and doesn’t want the office to know about it. I just can’t imagine sleeping that late so often. Maybe it’s the truth, but it seems fishy to me.

        1. The author of the question :)*

          When she comes in late she looks WORN OUT. Not like she just went to an interview. :)

        2. Chrissi*

          Now that I’m older, I’m like this – I might oversleep by an hour, but not more. But when I was in my 20’s I could oversleep like no one I’ve ever known (except most of my family) – and I didn’t drink. The only way I can explain the feeling is that it’s like being drugged w/ sleeping pills. It’s not like just lying in bed awake and being a little drowsy and just unwilling to get up. I could set 4 alarms, get up, feed the cat, and I could’ve still fallen back asleep at the drop of a hat. My brother used to answer phone calls and have entire conversations w/ people w/ no memory of it when he woke up later. I still have a hard time in the mornings and I still am periodically late (but I call my boss directly and have to take any amount of lateness as leave), but I’m much better than I was when I was younger.

          I’m not at all excusing her behavior – the fact that she doesn’t feel the need to call in is problematic and a good boss would not let her keep doing it and keep her job. But people can be surprisingly judge-y about others sleep habits – much in the same way people can be judge-y about people being night owls/early birds. Just because you haven’t experienced this yourself, doesn’t mean there’s something fishy going on.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I was the same and then I got diagnosed with sleep apnea. I can still occasionally oversleep to 9:30 or 10 but I don’t sleep to 2pm anymore. Consider getting tested.

          2. Anonsie*

            This is me. I’m extremely hard to wake up and I fall back into deep sleep really easily/often unintentionally, and some days I wake up and I feel like I haven’t been to sleep in years. I can’t stay awake throughout the day and it’s like moving through molasses, I can’t concentrate on anything, ugh. I had marathon sleep studies and blood work and all this junk to try to find out if it was sleep apnea or hormone issue or something… Nope. Apparently I’m just like that and there ain’t nothing to be done about it other than an elaborate alarm system.

            I mean technically being super sleepy despite getting enough sleep and falling asleep faster than normal is a sleep disorder, but it’s literally just the sleep disorder of being more sleepy than normal with no underlying cause. It’s not like, “this center of the brain causes x” or whatever. The symptom is being really sleepy and the cause is that you are just an extra sleepy person. Weee.

            1. Anon369*

              Interesting! My brother sounded like this and it was narcolepsy (not the falling-asleep-randomly kind, apparently). We used to dump a cup of water on him to wake him up!

              1. Anonsie*

                Oh yeah, the sleep specialist thought I was narcoleptic when I first talked about it. She seemed pretty sure, and I was also pretty convinced because the whole package of problems fit narcolepsy like a glove.

                NOPE. Just real sleepy. As sleepy as a narcoleptic, apparently. But I don’t flip into REM the way a narcoleptic would, which is crazy to me because I am 100% sure I was in fact dreaming during their tests.

            2. Rene*

              I ran across an app on a wearable device that supposedly vibrates and beeps within a set period when it detects you’re in REM sleep, and you wake up easily and don’t get that drugged feeling. So… you set a 20 minute window and when it detects you’re in REM sleep it goes off. I don’t have the device but it sounds interesting.

              1. Anonsie*

                Ugh I wish I had one of those, though according to all my marathon tests I actually *don’t* go into REM, which was surprising to me to say the least.

        3. the gold digger*

          I was wiped out after attending the Barry Manilow concert because you KNOW what he’s like. But I still made it to work the next day at 7:30 a.m. (Oh yeah – and it was in a snowstorm, so I had to leave early.)

          1. Adam*

            Still, I’d love to see the look on the co-worker’s face when you call in saying “Sorry, I’m going to be late today. Barry Manilow concert. You know how it goes…”

          2. College Career Counselor*

            Sounds to me like:
            you made it through the rain
            And found yourself respected
            By the others who
            Got rained on, too

    2. The author of the question :)*

      I agree with the multiple alarms. I would do whatever it took to get up on time, but she does not seem to mind that she is hours late…
      I was really afraid to be thought of as causing “drama” if I voiced my concern, but it seems most everyone agrees.

      1. LizNYC*

        If someone thinks you’re causing drama, that’s their fault. You are unable to do you job properly because this person refuses to be an adult. So you’re bringing it to the attention of the people who need to know. (Drama would be that you don’t like she goes to bars and want her to stop — completely different!)

      2. Ezri*

        It sounds to me like she isn’t experiencing consequences for her lateness, so she just doesn’t care about showing up on time. Or at all. Hopefully you can loop your boss in for a serious talk with her, because you aren’t really in a position of authority over her.

      3. Soupspoon McGee*

        You say she’s likable, but she is not being nice to you. She’s behaving in a terribly inconsiderate and unapologetic way. You are not the cause of drama here.

    3. CA Admin*

      LOL – I’ve been that person “home speed reading sci-fi novels” until 2am. I was engrossed and missed my regular bed time, then I was almost done and couldn’t not finish! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one with this problem…

        1. Cath in Canada*

          (Raises hand) I did this last week, with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

          I did it three days in a row during grad school, when I first discovered Harry Potter. AND I brought it in to read on my lunch breaks.


      1. Chelsea B.*

        Nope – I do this too….it’s a terrible habit…but I’m just going to read one more chapter….just one more.

          1. LisaS*

            That’s why I started reading anthologies – I would get to the end of a story & be able to jedi mind-trick myself into turning out the light, which I seemingly couldn’t do if it was a chapter…

          2. Lore*

            It’s taken me far too many years to learn that after a certain point, I’m not going to remember anything relevant about the last two “one more chapters” I read, so I might as well cut my losses, close the book, and read them for the first time in the morning.

          3. junipergreen*

            This happens to me a couple times a year… I’ve just started reading Outlander (late to the party, I know) and am trying to not let it interfere with my sleep!

            1. Chinook*

              “I’ve just started reading Outlander (late to the party, I know) and am trying to not let it interfere with my sleep!”

              I have some horribel news for your sleep patterns – the books only get longer and more involved and there are a lot more of them.

          4. Artemesia*

            My husband bought me one of those Nooks with the reading light built in so I wouldn’t keep him awake reading late in bed; this was not necessarily a good thing — there is always one more chapter.

            1. Editor*

              My kids got me one for a Christmas present a couple of years ago. Best present ever. Worst gift for causing late-night reading ever, too. Especially when I check to see if the book downloaded just after midnight and, well, just take a look at the first chapter, and then … and then… I am like a kid again, reading under the covers with a flashlight. And there’s no one else in the house. Sigh.

          5. Hlyssande*

            There’s a certain book I don’t allow myself to pick up unless it’s Friday, because it’s entirely likely that I’ll read right through until daylight and need the rest of the weekend to recover once I’ve finished.

        1. Adam*

          I have a friend who back in the day read most of the Harry Potter books this way.

          The thing is he did it on our college’s email system, which was really not pleasant to look at. He must have amazing genes or something because his eyes are still pretty much perfect.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            I stayed up all night to read Harry Potter for the last three books (for Book 4 I was in charge of the Harry Potter party at the bookstore I worked at the next morning and forced myself to stop after Chapter 9), but I always made sure to take the next day off. :P

            For the record, I finished Book 5 in 7 and a half hours, Book 6 in 6 and a half, and Book 7 in 6. I still cannot read Book 7 at night because the Point of No Return in that book is pretty much page 1.

            1. CA Admin*

              Me too! I got home from a Reel Big Fish concert at 2am the night HP 5 came out (my dad picked up the copy at midnight for me) and I finished at around 7:30am the next morning. Then sleep.

              Rinse and repeat for #6 and #7–though I had to muffle the sounds of my sobbing for #7, so I wouldn’t wake my roommate at 5am. You know which chapters I mean.

        2. JB*

          I used to do that, until I accepted the fact that I couldn’t be responsible with reading at bed time, so now I only do it when I don’t have to go to work the next day. But unfortunately, I substituted watching mysteries on netflix, “just for a few minutes,” “just until the next scene,” “just until the end of this episode.” I thought maybe I should just go back to books, but I will actually fall asleep watching tv sometimes, but almost never while reading books.

        3. Carpe Librarium*

          Terry Pratchett doesn’t even write in chapters. You can go through a whole book with the mindset of “I’ll just finish this chapter…” Pure evil.

      2. YandO*

        The Song of Ice and Fire is responsible for dozens of sleepless nights for me. I will read till the morning if I like the book. I cannot stop. It’s terrible.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Damn GRRM to the seven hells. That series is a diabolical addiction. And I have it bad.

        2. JoAnna*

          I was reading “A Clash of Kings” while riding a bus home, and missed my stop because I was so engrossed.

        3. Jessica*

          I don’t stay up late reading those, but I do have the issue of almost being late sometimes because I listen to them on Audible and want to stay in my car to finish! Key word: “almost”. Unlike OP’s selfish coworker.

      3. beckythetechie*

        “The Kingkiller Chronicles” just did it to me. Twice. The third book’s not out for another year, so I’m going to be twitchy waiting for it.

          1. beckythetechie*

            “The Name of the Wind” is the first, available in hard back, paper back, and Kindle editions that I know of. Book two is “The Wise Man’s Fear” which I just polished off Monday around 4 AM, available in the same formats. I might have to recycle Martin’s “Dance of Dragons” for a while to tide me over, unless I can find the first of the Kushiel’s novels a friend keeps talking about.

          1. beckythetechie*

            I think it was his publishing house saying “Spring/Summer of 2016”. I don’t follow the author personally anywhere because I would prod him incessantly about it.

            Strangely, though, I do follow George RR Martin on social media and I find it much easier not to poke him about the remaining two books. I just have my fingers crossed his health holds out until he gets done.

            1. Lore*

              I work for his US publisher and we’re not announcing anything until we see a manuscript. ;)

        1. SophiaB*

          Me too. I had to take The Name of the Wind off my Kindle in the end so I could actually get some sleep at night.

      4. Chrissi*

        If I want to read at night before going to bed, I have to re-read one of my books from my bookshelf so that I know how it ends. Otherwise I do this too.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I love this discussion of books – I will have to compile a list because I am getting tired of amazon picking books for me!

        2. The IT Manager*

          Did you know that the Rosie Project sequel is out? It’s in my audiobook queue (which now contains more books then my unread bookshelf.)

          1. PhyllisB*

            Yep. The Rosie Effect. I read it and thought it was hysterical. Not as good as the first, but still worth reading.

      5. Adam*

        Now that people are listing all these books I’m wracking my brain trying to find my own sleep-defying reads and am disappointed I’m not coming up with any (I like my sleep, a lot).

        Did happen to me with a couple video games though. Back in the day Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a whole week of “Just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes…Holy crap! Why is it 2am?”

        1. Chinook*

          “Back in the day Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a whole week of “Just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes…Holy crap! Why is it 2am?””

          That is DH with any new Zelda game. I often fell asleep on the couch to him playing and then would wake up a few hours later and he would still be at it.

      6. Cupcake*

        Just to add to the side-bar, I learned a great trick in the “sleep or read” dilemma to have my cake and eat it, too. I play audiobooks at the side of my bed at night. Its almost like having Mary Poppins read me to sleep. Most often, I fall asleep before the end of the disc, and listen to the remainder the next night. Thank heavens for A husband who can sleep through anything!

        1. Alter_ego*

          the audible app actually has a sleep timer, so you can set it to stop automatically after 8 or 15 or 30 minutes, which makes it much easier to pinpoint how much you’ve missed after falling asleep.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I wish my husband would sleep like that! He would wake up to the sound of a q-tip falling on carpet.

      7. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I always want to call in to work “reading” instead of “sick”, especially when I am on the good part of the book and have abandoned any pretense of maintaining any other facet of my life.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Oh ugh, I hate it when I get to the good part just at the end of my bus ride, and I know I can’t read any more till lunch…

      8. Chinook*

        Add me to those who have “just one more chapter” habit. The worst was when I started reading Outlander as an airplane book on a once in a decade trip to visit a friend. I spent the days with her and the nights reading (mumble..stupid Jamie…)

  6. Sherm*

    I hate to play armchair expert, but I can’t help thinking alcoholism, or problem drinking. I would love to hear someone’s thoughts about recognizing it and dealing with it at work.

    1. The author of the question :)*

      It is interesting that you bring this up. There was one day that she came in looking quite out of it. I thought it was just me, but several people asked me what was wrong with her. Some thought maybe depression or a drinking problem. That was the first time I had thought about a deeper issue…

    2. AnotherAlison*

      We have some friends who live a couple hours away (thank God) who are in their late 30s with a 3 year old and still go out partying like they’re 22, several times a month. I wouldn’t call them alcoholics. We have another friend who is an alcoholic. She has to be carried home after a night out. Totally different.

      1. Amy*

        If you can’t make it to work on time that’s a sign of a problem. It’s not how drunk someone gets on a particular occasion but how it affects everyday life that defines alcoholism.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I didn’t need to write three paragraphs about why she *is* an alcoholic. That’s her business.

        2. Burlington*

          Though in this case, it’s hard to argue that it’s really impacting her life, because from her perspective, her job clearly doesn’t care that she’s in late/doesn’t show up. If her manager made it clear that her job is on the line and she continued to do it, then maybe. But if your job doesn’t care when you show up, then you can hardly say it’s irresponsible to show up late.

        3. Zillah*

          I mean, yes? In some ways? But it sounds to me like this coworker isn’t being late/absent on a regular basis because of alcohol – she’s being late because her job just isn’t that high on the priority list. Maybe there’s something else going on, but we can’t know that, and it doesn’t seem super relevant to the OP regardless.

    3. illini02*

      Thats a HUGE leap to assume its a drinking problem. It may be a time management issue, but thats a separate thing. Maybe she was out for a birthday, or engagement, or anything. Maybe she wasn’t even drunk, just very tired the next day and hit snooze too many times. I hate the assumption that if people are out at bars late (even on a school night!) that that equates to a alcohol problem. I’ve had many late night outs and made it to work just fine the next day, albeit a little tired

      1. Adam*

        Yes. An alcoholic, regardless of how much they actually drink, when they are at their worst is someone who has no control over their drinking and feels like they need it just to function. Someone who drinks too much every time they party could just be irresponsible/have really poor judgement, not necessarily a substance abuse problem.

        1. some1*

          “An alcoholic . . . feels like they need it just to function”

          Actually, an actual alcoholic is physically addicted and they actually *do* need alcohol to function, or they need to detox in a medical setting or they could die.

          1. Adam*

            It was my understanding that there is a range with alcoholism in that many people are psychologically addicted but not full on chemically addicted to the point of needing extreme treatment like you stated. Usually the psychological addiction comes first and if not addressed can lead to the full physical addiction later, but is still considered alcoholism. Is that not the case?

            1. some1*

              I should have said “some alcoholics”, sorry. My point was an alcoholic is not at her/his “worst” when s/he “feels” like she needs alcohol, as you stated. I’d argue the physical effects are much worse.

              1. some1*

                Eta: but I definitely agree with your main point that it’s not something for a layperson top judge from the outside.

                1. Green*

                  It’s not for a layperson to diagnose and treat; laypersons can absolutely “judge” and intervene, and there are a number of situations in the professions where they absolutely should ethically “judge from the outside” and intervene or may even be legally required to.

                2. some1*

                  @ Green, I’m an admin like the LW. We are not mandated to report our coworkers of drinking age to be alcoholics, or to intervene if we suspect that.

                3. Green*

                  Admins are obviously not, but to suggest that laypersons shouldn’t judge from the outside is definitely not the norm in many professions. Pretty much any job in which you have an ethical duty to clients or third parties or anything involving safety, stewardship of others, or operating machinery/vehicles. You can choose to say “not my problem”, and for an admin that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean make the normative statement that “one shouldn’t judge from the outside” true or that others don’t have a separate moral imperative to help people who may be in need.

                4. Green*

                  Yes, and you “refuted” it by saying that you personally don’t have to, which isn’t a refutation.

              2. Adam*

                I tend to use more words then necessary when I type. “Feels” was mainly intended for those whose addiction is primarily psychological and hasn’t progressed to the extreme physical side yet.

      2. Natalie*

        Heck, I’ve woken up in the morning with a splitting headache and all the usual hangover symptoms, after a wild night of 2 glasses of wine. Sometimes weird things happen with alcohol, especially as you get older (IME).

        1. Chrissi*

          I thought it was just me. I had one small glass of wine last night and woke up w/ a terrible headache. I do not enjoy that part of getting older :)

      3. Sherm*

        I wouldn’t call it a *huge* leap — the coworker herself has herself cited being hungover as a reason for missing work. As a layperson on the Internet, I’m not going to insist that this is a case of alcoholism/problem drinking, but I think there is enough information here to consider the possibility.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            OP, I hope you see this. It does not matter what the problem actually is. Your part of the story is that she is late, it effects you, period.

            All of this stuff may or may not be true. While it is good to care about people and try to have some insight to them, they still have to do the job they were hired to do.

      4. Green*

        So I posted above about weeknight late partying. My husband is gone on weekends, so we often will go out once or twice a week and have a few drinks. But defining alcoholism is difficult, and a common reaction on this board is not to do armchair diagnoses, but opening yourself up to the possibility of someone having a substance abuse or mental health problem can help create compassion and explore other solutions. If you are drinking to the point that you are impacting other aspects of your life (family relationships, work, finances) on a regular basis, then you most likely have an alcohol problem. And work is often where the problems start manifesting.

        Taking an awkward moment to check in on a colleague who may need help can save lives. I got a colleague into treatment once (he had substance abuse, very severe depression, financial problems, hoarding, and was suicidal), and he regularly lets me know that I literally saved his life. But it manifested itself at work first by coming in late and then not coming in at all. It turns out that he had almost nobody else in his life that cared enough to talk to him about it (and of the people who noticed, nobody felt “close” enough) and his family lived too far away to know there was a problem (and it was easier for him to hide it).

        1. illini02*

          One of the issues is whether is it causing problems at work. I’d actually argue that its NOT causing problem at work, because she never gets in trouble for it. If she was fired because of her staying out all night drinking, thats causing a problem. But her manager doesn’t even say anything about it. I know it may seem minor, but if she doesn’t see being late as a problem (since the manager doesn’t) I still don’t think it falls into that category. Either way, its irrelevant and not our place to diagnose

          1. Green*

            I’d say it’s relevant, and while it’s not “our” (or OP’s) place to “diagnose”, it is a decent person’s place to look out for common signs of serious mental health issues or substance abuse. I’m not saying this person is an alcoholic (and I don’t think “problem at work” is only when you’ve gotten fired), but if OP comes to believe that this person has an alcohol dependency problem, it may be compassionate to have a polite conversation. It doesn’t need to be a kidnapping intervention or the announcing of a “diagnosis”: “Hey, you’ve been coming in late a lot recently, and I am a bit worried about you. Is everything OK?”

      5. Amy*

        If you come in on time, then fine. You don’t have a problem. We’re not talking about someone who can party until all hours and then come to work on time here.

    4. Cara*

      Hmm, could be, but I think it’s more likely that she just doesn’t understand that her absence has an effect on other people, so she isn’t prioritizing her job. I was like that when I was a teenager working at my first couple of jobs, and I was shocked, SHOCKED, when I was fired for it. Of course, the LW’s coworker doesn’t have the excuse of being very young…

      1. Mephyle*

        She doesn‘t feel that her absence has an effect on other people, because it only has an effect on one person: OP. And until now, OP has been picking up the slack so it doesn’t even affect Coworker. Only a mature, unselfish adult would be bothered about something that isn’t affecting them, and would be motivated to change their behaviour.

    5. some1*

      Not that alcoholism isn’t serious (it is), but it’s really neither here nor there. I had a former coworker who was late all the time and fell asleep at work because he stayed up all night stone cold sober, playing video games.

    6. Anon for this*

      It *might* be a sign of alcoholism. I have a family member who is an alcoholic, and regularly calls in sick because he has been out drinking the night before. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to diagnose the coworker from afar, because at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter why she is coming late. The point is that she *is* coming in late, and it’s impacting the OP’s work.

      1. anne*

        But I have also worked with alcoholics who were able to show up on time and perform their jobs. Her drinking is besides the point, it’s her performance.

        1. Amy*

          Actually, employers are somewhat obligated to offer assistance to alcoholics before firing them for conduct issues, so it’s relevant (but not to the OP writer, who can’t send the person to Employee Assistance – that’s for the boss to do)

          1. Natalie*

            I think that would only apply if the LW’s co-worker self-identified and invoked the ADA.

    7. beckythetechie*

      Alcoholism is up to a professional to diagnose and the coworker herself to decide to address. This isn’t about what the coworker does in her down time or if she has a disease or emotional problem; it’s about what she does in her work time that makes life difficult for others.

      Now if the OP gets a message on Facebook from the coworker’s sister asking for her help in an intervention, that’s a different situation. This is a coworker, a colleague, not a family member. The OP’s responsibility ends at making sure her work environment is manageable.

      1. beckythetechie*

        One of the best coworkers at my last place of business is what’s called a “functioning alcoholic”. He started exhibiting physical symptoms of withdrawal if he had to stay later than his usual time: sweats, mood swings, twitchiness, the works. But for all that, he was on time every morning, did his work better than proscribed, got along well with most of our coworkers, always made his rent and his car payment, took his cat to the vet every year, and had a golf handicap of 2. He was a model employee in spite of his disease. His illness didn’t become a work issue until he had to change shifts for a while and the withdrawal kicked in (which is how we came to the conclusion that he had more than a social drinking habit). But, I wouldn’t hesitate to take him on if the demands of the job allowed the schedule he needs to manage himself. Because I like the guy I wish he’d make healthier choices, but since he’s not at that point, it’s not my business as his coworker to complain to a manager about his illness if his illness isn’t making my situation harder/less productive/dangerous. We’d be in the same situation with an applicant with MS or Tourette’s syndrome.

        1. Amy*

          Alcoholism isn’t covered under ADA law. MS & Tourette’s are. That’s a huge difference.

      2. Green*

        I disagree. Anyone who has had a colleague or friend commit suicide wishes that anyone who noticed a problem along the way had at least tried to help. And in many of the professions (particularly those in which suicide and substance abuse are very common), colleagues and professional contacts can be absolutely essential in getting people to treatment. It’s hard to do, and not everyone feels comfortable doing it, but it’s hard to draw a line that because someone isn’t your family member you shouldn’t try to help.

        1. some1*

          I really think you’re reaching here…the LW has no proof that her coworker is suicidal.

          1. Green*

            I’m responding to the people, including you, who say things along the line of “mind your own business” and “stop with the armchair diagnosis” (on basically every post on AAM which could implicate mental health or substance abuse). There are lots of situations (and I have repeatedly said that it might not be true in OP’s situation, although OP has wondered if there’s a substance abuse problem) where observing well-known signs and symptoms of substance abuse or mental health problems may save someone’s life or help them recognize the problem and seek help. And you don’t have to wait until someone is literally about to kill themselves to offer help or ask if they’re OK.

    8. Morning, keep the streets empty for me*

      Sigh. This is one of those things that is as old as the Internet, and maybe older: there is a Problem Person. And: they drink. And someone will add that up and get “alcoholic”. I don’t think we can know in this situation, and also I don’t see it as relevant. There’s a good chance that anyone who stays up all night is going to look like hell in the morning – even without drugs and alcohol.

      1. Adam*


        While substance ABUSE is a serious issue, we do stigmatize it too far. The old line of “If you ever drink alone you might be an alcoholic” drives me nuts. If I was only allowed to have a glass of whatever if I was being social, then I would have been stone cold sober for the longest time.

        1. some1*

          I also think if you belong to a religion or culture that frowns upon or outlaw drinking, you are less aware that socially responsible drinking is a thing.

          1. Adam*

            Funny thing, if it was a hard and fast rule that all drinking had to be social, for much of my life the only day I could drink would have been Sunday.

          2. LBK*

            Good point – I’m always surprised when people don’t understand that 1 or 2 drinks may not even have a noticeable impact on someone.

          3. Burlington*

            For real! My family has alcoholism issues, so the idea me and my siblings grew up with was “You can never drink anything at all, or you will become an alcoholic.” It was a fairly radically warped view of the world to have.

        2. Ezri*

          I don’t drink very often, and most of the time it’s in my house alone. I hate being drunk in front of anyone other than my husband. And he’ll gleefully make fun of me for the silly things I do when intoxicated.

        3. Kelly L.*

          I decided the spirit of that rule was more “if you drink alone to hide your drinking.” I am not calling 10 of my friends to come over just because I want a slug of Kahlua in my hot cocoa one night!

      2. LBK*

        Agreed – it’s really baffling to me how often I see someone mention that they drink a few times a week or that they’ve gotten really drunk a couple times recently and the responses are “Maybe you have an alcohol problem.” If that’s cause for concern then basically my entire friend group needs to be hauled off to AA.

        1. Adam*

          Yep. If you’ve imbibed in alcohol for any stretch of time chances are you’ve had at least one occasion where you’ve taken in more than you should have for your tolerance level. And if that were grounds for considering it a chronic problem that means in America over 80% of the population could be considered as such.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Oh, don’t get me started! I have a two to three glasses of red wine three to four nights a week, and my kids came home from school, after a segment on substance abuse, insisting that I’m an alcoholic. I tried to explain to them what alcoholism really is (my dad is one), and they were having none of it; the alcoholism-detection list clearly stated that anyone consuming more than three 4 – 6oz glasses a week was an alcoholic.

    9. Amy*

      Yes, and there is probably a workplace assistance program. People who don’t straighten up can be fired despite claiming to try to quit. Alcohol and drug abuse are common enough for this to be well-trod territory. If she’s not an alcoholic, she can restrict her partying to the weekends. If she is an alcoholic she will fail at employee assistance and be fireable, or she will succeed and straighten out.

  7. Remy*

    This is really almost an aside — but no-call no-show types of stunts like this can and do get people fired on the spot. I know that being an executive assistant in a top suite can seem insulated, but don’t there almost have to be other people in the organization in roles above the coworker who would or could also step in? (HR, for example?)

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      HR can’t really “step in” — it’s up to the supervisor/manager to bring it to HR. An HR person can go to the manager and say, “Hey, do you want help dealing with this?” But it’s really not up to the HR person to TELL the manager what to do with their department. Of course, there are exceptions — harassment or violence issues, for instance. But in general.

  8. CAinUK*

    I’d suggest one more conversation before going to the boss. I say this because you mention you’ve “tried” talking to her and you “thought” it got somewhere – which flags to me that it wasn’t a very straightforward/direct request (like: “Jane, can you please be here on time from now on? When you are late I have to ask other people to cover the desk and phones when I’m on lunch or step away from my desk.”)

    If you weren’t this direct, you should try once more and be direct before escalating to your boss – especially since I doubt your boss hasn’t noticed (in which case your boss is simply deciding to not be confrontational or care), so I think one more attempt to directly resolve it could be more fruitful.

    But, if you’ve been very direct and nothing changed, by all means escalate it!

    1. The author of the question :)*

      Thanks – I think you hit the nail on the head with the fact that supervisor just does not want to be confrontational. Each time my coworker texts me to say she is late or not coming, I tell her supervisor (which I think she should be doing herself – that is part of the issue). I think the first time she used the “I over slept excuse” was okay, but now that we hear it several times a month I THINK it is becoming noticeable.
      Also, I told her that I was very upset that I was constantly being inconvenienced because she could not balance her social life with her work responsibilities. I also told her that I thought it was bizarre behavior for a 32 year old….

      1. CAinUK*

        Ah, okay, 2 things here:

        It sounds like you have different supervisors? If that’s the case, tell YOUR supervisor how this is impacting your work as Alison suggests, and ask how to handle it. Ideally your supervisor would talk to your co-worker’s supervisor.

        Secondly, especially given your co-worker sounds a bit immature but also loved around the office, I’d be extra careful about loaded statements about her age or social life. I’d recommend sticking to the professionalism/inconvenience script – the last thing you want is for her to begin gossip or causing drama and morph this into an “OP is judging my social life/age” thing, which would derail the focus/point.

      2. Natalie*

        OK, my reading comprehension is all over the place today. Anywho, it sounds a bit like you have taken on some responsibilities without specifically being asked (informing her supervisor she’s late, picking up her slack) and you are now irritated that they are your responsibility. What would happen if you just dropped them – stopped forwarding her call-ins, stopped picking up her slack, just answered directly if someone asked where she was or why she didn’t do [thing] yet?

        1. The author of the question :)*

          You know, I have been thinking about doing that… especially as this just continues to happen. However, I am just not sure how it would reflect on me. I do not want to me the “its not MY job” person.

            1. The author of the question :)*

              Yes, I am! I think I am going to feel so much better than just becoming more and more frustrated. Thanks so much to everyone for all their advice. I feel better knowing that I am not the only one who would be frustrated in this situation.

          1. Natalie*

            (For some reason I feel like the below reads really harshly, so I’m sorry if it does. I’ve wordsmithed it but I’m having trouble getting the tone right. Sigh.)

            Unless she has specifically said “hey, can you pick up my slack” or “hey, can you tell Fergus I’m going to be late”, you are making an assumption that you need to do these things, and then you are resenting the fact that you have to do them. But if no one has asked you, and you took this responsibility on yourself, you might find that no one actually cares if you stop.

            Story time: We have a kitchen with a sink, and I used to always put my dishes in the sink when I was done and then make sure I loaded them into the dishwasher at the end of the day. Some of my co-workers put theirs in the dishwasher right away, and others did the same as I did. This temp admin started, and for whatever reason she started putting any dishes in the dishwasher as soon as she saw them. No one asked her to do this – I’m not even sure anyone knew she was doing it. But apparently she was secretly resenting the hell out of me (just me, not sure why) for this HORRIBLE BURDEN I was presumptuously placing on her. One day I sat down at my desk to a 4 paragraph email, copying our shared boss, going over her expectations for how I would handle my dirty dishes. (This was not something my boss had directed her to do, incidentally.)

            Now, she has directly asked you to do these things, or if she flips out when you don’t, that’s a different story entirely. But the impression I get from your comments as a whole is that you do a nice but unasked thing for her, and then you are annoyed she is what appears to be ungrateful or presumptuous. If you can challenge your own thinking so your not pressuring yourself to do that, you might find this situation easier to manage (and lots of situations).

              1. Natalie*

                I don’t remember her exact wording, but she said something to the effect that she thought the temp was way out of line. I made a joke about how it was cutting into temp’s Facebook time, and then gave her the head’s up about the dissolution of my long term, live in partnership, which I was in the middle of and is the reason I had walked into her office in the first place.

                We declined to hire her permanently (it was temp to perm), and we also found out she got fired from her next job and denied unemployment after an appeal, which is really hard in this state. She was sort of a mess.

            1. Artemesia*

              I will never understand people who don’t realize that putting their dishes in the sink makes a mess for everyone else who might want to use the kitchen sink. To then pretend that you didn’t put this on her seems disingenuous. Either she or someone else picked up after you or your dirty dishes sat their in everyone’s way all day long. Why is it ‘easier’ to dump your stuff in the sink than to just put it in the dishwasher?

              Sounds like the husband who agrees to do housework but then delays, makes messes, and does a poor job of it, and whines that it is unfair that his wife who ends up doing the work feels put upon and ‘imposes her standards’ on him.

              1. Natalie*

                Regardless of whether or not you understand, that’s how my office worked. Everyone did it, and everyone handled their own dishes at the end of the day. We still do it that way, and none of our admins since have acted the way she did. You also might have missed that the only person she decided to “confront” about this was me, for reasons that were never made clear.

                1. Natalie*

                  Also, since I have no intention of getting into a discussion about dishes, you’re sort of missing the point. Even if I was way out line (collected my dishes for a week and then piled them on her chair or something) the way to address is NOT stewing about it for weeks and weeks and then blowing your top. If someone annoys you regularly, and you never do or say anything directly about it, you don’t get to be further annoyed that they don’t just magically stop.

            2. Christine*

              I don’t read it that way at all. It’s not as if she’s just picking up the coworker’s slack. She’s being directly personally affected by the coworker being late/not showing up. I once worked with a coworker JUST like that, and in the same type of environment as the OP. It’s one thing to be like “I’m not answering the phone because she’s not here” (which the OP would likely be the one to get reamed for it), and a whole other to not be able to use the bathroom for 4 hours because there is literally no one to answer the phone in your absence, or to have to cancel a doctors appointment last minute because your coworker just didn’t feel like showing up that day.

              Most likely if the directors have failed to notice the coworkers absence, all they care about is the work getting done. So when the OP decides that she’s not doing it because she resents picking up the slack (which isn’t really her main complaint and she seems too professional to do this anyway), it’s likely that the directors will only see that she’s the one present, and how she’s not doing the job. I had a boss exactly like that with the mentioned above coworker. One day when the coworker called in saying she’d be an hour late, no wait- 2 hours late, no wait- probably after lunch (she didn’t show up that day), I ate something funny and had bad tummy issues for an hour or so. Usually when I had to use the bathroom I’d have to call another person from across the building to sit at the phones (a 5 to 10 min wait for her to get there). This particular day I knew if I didn’t go to the restroom RIGHT THEN it wouldn’t be pretty. I ran to the bathroom was in there for about 5 minutes, and when I emerged I got screamed at by my boss that I had missed a phone call. No mention of my missing coworker…just that I had failed to answer a call.

              1. Natalie*

                Ah, but notice that regarding the doctor’s appointment, OP apparently did not check with her supervisor at all – she just assumed that she would have to cancel the doctor’s appointment. If she had said to her boss, as others suggested, “hey, I have an appointment that Jane was going to cover, but she called in today”, it’s entirely possible her boss would have covered for her, or informed her that coverage wasn’t necessary, or decided to take the calling-in issue up with Jane’s boss. But OP doesn’t know, because she didn’t ask.

                1. Jennifer*

                  Some places would probably demand that the OP cancel. If there’s so few people there in the first place, the big boss isn’t going to cover a phone and all that. And god forbid a phone not be answered.

                  I was wondering if only scheduling appointments in the afternoon rather than during Prime Hangover Time might make this slightly less bad because she might be more likely to show up by after lunch, but that might not help when allllll day becomes Hangover Day.

                2. Natalie*

                  Of course, but again – the OP doesn’t know this yet because they didn’t ask. “I think I’m supposed to be doing all this unreasonable stuff” takes a much different approach than “my boss has directly told me to do all this unreasonable stuff.”

                3. Talia*

                  While it’s possible the OP would have had to cancel, it may also highlight to her and the co-worker’s bosses that something has to be done.

                  I used to work for a chain that basically had one full time employee per store and filled the rest of the hours with part timers. For months, I begged them to hire more full timers, but they refused, citing cost, and besides, the stores have managed so far right? So, I stopped being the band aid, the person who worked extra hours and came back on off days and refused to take sick leave, so that there would be enough staff in the store. Whenever I couldn’t find staff from my stores to cover the hours, I just dumped it in my supervisor’s lap and had her deal with it instead. While it didn’t make them hire more full timers, it made had a lot less stressed about scheduling.

            3. Anonsie*

              This is a fair point. The coworker’s behavior is problematic either way, but it is possible that it’s less of an issue than the letter writer thinks. Maybe the coworker and the supervisor basically have an agreement that this is ok (which is weird, but hey) and/or they have their own channels for her call-outs, and she’s just letting the LW know in a text as an FYI to her and it’s not supposed to be actionable?

              This happened to me once in a former job now that I think about it, though the situations are not wholly comparable. I have a lot of doctor’s appointments and I would arrange things well enough so usually no one even knew I was gone. I would let people know separately with whatever info they personally needed, but unlike the LW none of my work overlapped with anyone else so coverage was a non-issue. Since most people didn’t need any info, I’d just let them know I was gone in whatever email-grouping chunks made sense to me.

              I had one coworker (at my level, same job but different assignments) who, unbeknownst to me, scrambled to check in on all my work when I was gone and was very upset that I passed this burden to her. She thought I was only letting her know (since no one else was copied on the emails I sent her) and that made that time her responsibility, so she would spend time checking in with people and offering to help with things they normally give me. This was a big burden for her and I later found out she was very angry about it, while I had no idea.

            4. LW*

              Unfortunately, it is just assumed I will pick up the slack because we do back each other up. It is the nature of the job. If I just let the phones ring or go on lunch without finding someone else to cover , I would probably be spoken to. The office is supposed to have two admins there at a time because of the hectic nature of the office. She doesn’t need to ask me to cover ~ I know I have to…

              1. Natalie*

                Sure, I wouldn’t expect you to just walk away and take lunch. But in the same vein as the doctor’s appointment you mentioned elsewhere – when your co-worker has called in and there’s no one to cover lunch, do you talk to you boss? Or do you assume that your boss expects you to work through lunch?

        2. Lily in NYC*

          That’s exactly what I did in a similar situation. It was my last resort – I realized no one would do anything unless they were suffering like I was. So I dropped the ball and only did my own work and started logging her arrival times. Of course, nothing happened until a higher-level person had no one to help him one morning..

      3. JMegan*

        Oh, I missed this when I answered above. In that case, instead of passing the message on to her supervisor, your reply is “Please tell him yourself.” (Or some more polite version that I’m unable to think of right now!) You may want to address the pattern first, rather than each individual instance: “Jane, I’m really uncomfortable passing these messages to your supervisor, as I think that should be between the two of you. So please consider that your job from now on.” And then stop doing it.

        Even if the main issue doesn’t get addressed, at least you’ve removed yourself from being a part of it, by refusing to be part of their communication stream. Good luck!

      4. SJP*

        Just a note – You said you told her how upset it’s making you. Don’t do that. She’s try and wriggle out of it and say you’re just being dramatic or something. Phrase it as it’s a massive inconvenience and that you cannot keep covering her work. And then don’t cover it. Let it come out that stuff isn’t getting done because she’s not around.
        Also it’s not bizarre behaviour it’s unprofessional behaviour and call her out on that. I’d phrase it something like this –

        “Jane, I wanted to talk to you about the lateness issues that we’ve discussed before. Firstly I am not sure you understand how extremely unprofessional this is. You have text me before to say that you overslept. You work in an federal office, these things cannot happen in a office where you job is to assist a director. Your job is a big deal and I’d hope you can treat it as such.
        Secondly, by you being late or not turning up, which have both happened multiple times before, the work you are doing is slipping. I cover some of it because otherwise the boss would miss/wouldn’t be able to do X,Y, and Z but your other core jobs aren’t getting done and that is a real problem. If I need to go and do X task I have to find someone to cover, because as you know, we’re an extremely busy office where the phone cannot be left unattended. I hope you can resolve this as soon as possible”

      5. Amy*

        Tell her you won’t accept texts from her anymore because official communication shouldn’t be done that way. Then block her phone number.

  9. The author of the question :)*

    SHE is actually a federal employee (I am not). And she has made jokes often about other things – “what will they do, fire me?” It would be nearly impossible to fire her.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually, it would be perfectly doable to fire her. In government, really black and white stuff like not showing up to work is easier to fire people for than more subjective performance problems. (You can fire for those too, but this one would be much easier.)

    2. Amy*

      Conduct issues are indeed fireable even in a federal context. If the workplace has a mix of people with different rules, there could be misunderstanding on the part of her or the boss.

    3. Dr. Speakeasy*

      I would be so tempted to give a deadpan: “Yes” the next time she says this. I work in a unionized government job. People can absolutely be fired for not showing up for work.

    4. jamlady*

      Ugh that attitude alone would drive me crazy. On top of her not actually coming into work to do her job… Honestly you’ve probably been too nice in this situation and she doesn’t deserve a coworker like you. Clearly she does not respect her coworkers. You’ve gone out of your way to speak with her and even seek professional advice on how best to handle this so it wouldn’t be harmful to her. You’re a saint! But she doesn’t deserve it. Don’t stress about the tension – it’s her fault anyway.

      1. Windchime*

        It seems to me that the main reason she keeps doing it is that she has suffered absolutely zero repercussions. She comes and goes as she pleases, LW wants to demonstrate a strong work-ethic and so she covers for PartyGirl, and PartyGirl’s boss doesn’t seem to notice or care that her full-time employee is working part-time. (Honestly, HOW is it that these types of people consistently rise to the managerial level!? Someone please explain to me HOW.)

  10. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    The tendency to stray into Bitch Eating Crackers territory is so strong. I know! one of my coworkers is consistently late, 15 minutes to over an hour, every single day. We have to answer her phone calls and pick up her slack until she gets in, but when we bring it up to my boss, he shrugs and says “What can you do?” And thanks to the constant appearance of lateness not being a big deal, it is so easy to slide into bad habits or constantly gripe about the coworker.

    If no response when talking to your boss, is there another avenue for you to go with? And failing resolution there, can you address her directly about shifting responsiblities on days she’s late?

    1. Arbynka*

      I really, really, dislike when boss replies “what can I do ?” when there are, indeed, thing she can, and should do.

      1. alma*

        I have a Clockwork Orangeian revulsion to the phrase “It is what it is” because that was a former manager’s buck-passing passivity phrase of choice.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Oh god, I had one of those too and I wanted to punch something every time she said that. I finally did it back to her one day when she was complaining about something and it felt so good. She was a great boss otherwise though!

        2. DaBlonde*

          I have a strong reaction to the phrase “It is what it is” as well because it was the phrase my old boss used when he had procrastinated too long and had to submit a half-assed report.

      2. LBK*

        Seriously. I always want to say “Well you’re the boss, so you can do almost anything, including firing her.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What would happen if you replied, “Well, you could tell her that the job requires her to be on time and that she can’t continue breaking that rule”?

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        You know, I don’t know. I can assume it wouldn’t go over well, but I’m so mentally exhausted with this job that I’ve been spending my energy looking for a way to get out rather than reforming my horrid boss. This is the same guy who didn’t want to fire a guy who was smoking weed in the bathroom during the workday because he hates confrontation–I don’t think anything I can say will make a difference.

        1. Arbynka*

          I am sorry. {{{HUGHS}}} He sounds like a horrible boss and I know – I think quite few of us know – how draining it is to work for a boss like that in a job that is bringing you down mentally.

          1. Book Person*

            I like the offer of “Hughs,” especially if they are of the Jackman variety, but that could just be me…. :)

            1. LBK*

              I envision a mass of Hughs (Grant, Jackman, Laurie, et al) appearing and surrounding FDCA in a protective bubble.

              1. JMegan*

                Agreed, this is pretty much the best typo ever. And I would like a Hugh hug as well, please!

  11. Arbynka*

    Actually, just recently, one of my friends has been fired from federal job. While firing within the federal government is trickier that in private sector – there is a procedural protection in place – (Kathie the Fed will know much more about it than me), federal employee can indeed get fired for performance based reasons. I don’t have the link nor I remember exact numbers but I think around 12 000 federal employees get fired every year.

    1. Amy*

      I think lateness is a conduct issue, not performance, but still it’s possible to be fired for it. Since there’s an alcohol problem here, employee assistance should be offered first.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m not so sure it’s as much an alcohol problem as it is an irresponsibility problem.

      2. Adonday Veeah*

        Unless the employee brings up an alcohol issue and asks for accommodation, this isn’t the best advice. Otherwise, you’re diagnosing, and that is never a good idea.

        1. Green*

          There’s the “legal” answer for the supervisor, but there’s the human answer from another decent human being or colleague. It’s not “diagnosing” to recognize obvious signs and ask if someone is OK or if they need/want help.

  12. beckythetechie*

    How much documentation exists for this lateness? Do you fill out time sheets or punch a clock? Does she report hours through a web site where she can fudge the numbers? I’m asking because since she only tells *you* that she’s “running late,” being able to point out how many hours she’s skipping might be the best way to hammer home the point that this is a work problem that’s costing the company money via lost productivity and employees out of place to pick up her slack. If she’s responsible for her own reporting, your text messages from her will be the next best source of proof, which you may be able to have printed out through your service provider if necessary.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yes! Is she fudging her time sheet so it doesn’t show her late and absent as much? Especially as a government worker, that is a big deal. Or is she working less and getting paid less because of it?

  13. Cheesecake*

    I want to address actual work handling. OP was writing above that she is trying to brand herself reliable and hardworking. Well, that absolutely does not mean you need to deal with someone else constant slack! Actually, because you do her stuff, you management (either oblivious or confrontation avoiding) will expect you to keep doing both jobs. And the more you do it, the tougher it will get on you and on your power to complain about workload. Stop doing what she was supposed to. Go to lunch and go home on time. They need evidence that her work is not done, not evidence that it is actually done by someone else who is silently “enjoying” this

    1. Natalie*

      Yes, seriously! “I’m not sure where Jane’s report is.” “I don’t know why Jane didn’t get that done.” Ad infinitum.

    2. fposte*

      Right, there’s a lot about reliability and diligence in the original post (to the point where I’m wondering if the OP is doing unpaid OT, since she mentions coming in early and staying late), and I think the OP is having some difficulty sorting through the way to be the most reliable support in this situation vs. the way to deal with a problem situation. I actually think they’re the same thing in the long run, in that silently covering up for somebody isn’t reliability and loyalty but problematic martyrdom.

      OP, not every undone piece of work is yours to do.

  14. YandO*

    I think there are two separate issues.

    Issue #1: co-workers tardiness that directly makes your life unnecessarily harder. It does not matter why she is late, all that matters is that it happens often and without prior notice. Next time she sends you a text, let her know that you cannot cover for her because you are super busy and you will let the manager/supervisor know so they can handle it.

    Issue#2: you have got to stop judging people and placing expectations on people based on your personality, philosophy and expectations of yourself. Your work ethics are yours. You keep them not because it makes you better than your coworker, but because it gives you a good reputation and makes you a better employee. I think your focus on the character of the co-worker is harmful to your sanity and emotional well-being.

    1. Amy*

      Expecting people to do their job as described is not a personal moral issue. If the coworker could go partying at night and make it in on time in the morning this would not be an issue. I think the point is that the lateness is not due to the kinds of issues that would be acceptable in a normal workplace (not yours, Yando, obviously).

      Being a few minutes late is one thing. Being hours late is just beyond the pale in a normal workplace.

      1. YandO*

        “If the coworker could go partying at night and make it in on time in the morning this would not be an issue.”

        Totally agree. The flip side of that count thought is the fact that when “good” reasons (child care, migraines, similar unexpected emergencies) start impacting work they need to be addressed all the same

        I say this because I have chronic migraines. I don’t expect to be given “slack” because my reason is “good”. I work from home, I give notice as early as possible, I handle emergencies to the best of my abilities etc. Obviously, co-worker is not doing that, but it’s not up to OP to judge “why” or “how”. She just needs to make sure that co-worker’s lack of professionalism does not impact OP’s work.

  15. alma*

    Ooooh… not having the coverage to take a bathroom break made me SO FRUSTRATED when I was a receptionist! And I only had that happen once or twice due to “perfect storm” days where all my back-ups were out/in a meeting. I can’t imagine having to deal with that on the regular due to someone just being tardy!

    This is a case where Captain Awkward’s adage comes into play – about how you aren’t creating tension by addressing the problem, the person creating the problem is creating the tension. Addressing the problem is just putting the tension back on the problem-causer, which is exactly where it belongs.

    Is there any of her work that you can stop covering? Obviously you can’t let the phone ring endlessly or visitors go un-greeted, but if there are other administrative tasks that belong to Coworker, I would put them as low on my priority list as I possibly could. I don’t like recommending this, ideally you do everything you can to help the business run smoothly, but sometimes if everything seems to be under control then the problem isn’t regarded as serious. I have had that conflict-avoidant manager in the past and unfortunately the only way he’d address a horribly low-performing coworker was when the rest of us stopped saving her ass. Ugh, I hate typing this because I know how horribly dysfunctional it was!

    1. The author of the question :)*

      Hi Alma – I think you understand my situation completely! There are a few things that I could just let go undone. And I might just start doing that. One huge thing, would be to stop staying late on days she does not show up. That would make it very obvious that her unprofessional behavior is affecting the office. That would be very difficult for me to do, because I feel like I would be letting the office down…

      However, there might be times when I take a day of leave or need to take a sick day. Then, I will need her to cover for me. That is different, right? When I take leave I find someone to cover for me and get as much done as possible before taking leave…

      1. YandO*

        There is a huge difference between “I will be out next week on Tuesday. can you please cover A, B, and C for me?”


        “hey, out today. see you tomorrow. bye”

        and if you have to stay late because of doing *her* job, then you really need to talk to a supervisor. That’s not acceptable at all.

      2. 22dncr*

        OP – Being a VERY punctual person I have been in your shoes many, many times early in my career (both Ballet and secular). What I learned is that “if you don’t let it break it will never get fixed”. This is her work (NOT yours) that is not getting done. Believe me when I say no “normal” manager (Alison exempted because we know she’s above average) is going to care who does the work as long as it gets done. They will not see that you are doing it (unless you go around moaning and wailing about having to do it; not a tactic I would advise) and you will get no Brownie Points for it. Let it break. It will be scary the first time you do it but believe me, it is the only thing that will get something done about this. You have to be out of the middle also. When she texts you do not pass it on – she is a grown-up and needs to take responsibility for her attendance by calling/texting her manager herself. She’s been there longer than you – she knows what she’s supposed to do. Make her do it.

        1. Liz*

          I agree with letting things break. It *is* scary, but stop bending over backwards to accommodate or cover for your coworker, and just concentrate on doing all your tasks, and her issues will become extremely apparent.

          When you fix it all the time (which I also have tended to do) you simply ensure it’s not really a problem for anyone except you.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Agree with this completely. You should not be the intermediary between her and her boss, your job is not to cover for her. If she doesn’t show up, that’s her problem. If she fails to tell her boss she will be in late, that’s her problem. If she is stuck doing extra work because you left on time? Also her problem.

          If you need a day off for doctor’s appointments or whatever, tell YOUR BOSS you will be out that day, and then do it.

          What’s she going to say? “Hey, it’s so unfair that LW went home on time and didn’t cover for me because I was hung over!”

        1. LW*

          Yes ~ but i also car pool so when I know my ride is waiting and I am afraid to leave, I stress out. I know I probably bring on a lot of this stress and pressure on myself. ..

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is perfect.
            “Boss, unfortunately, when Coworker is late, I cannot stay to cover/catch up. I car pool and my ride is waiting for me. So I will not be able to stay late except for rare occasions, where you might directly ask me to stay.”

      3. Book Person*

        Re: not staying late, you should certainly speak with your supervisor first to get his/her buyin on that front. I hope s/he is reasonable enough to support your need to leave on time, and won’t see it as “letting the office down.” After that, I would say leave when you need to, kindly but neutrally letting her supervisor know if you’re leaving earlier than office hours (“I’m heading out since I have an appointment, Jane. See you tomorrow!”). I suggest that a) as a courtesy to said supervisor, and b) so you aren’t lumped in with your coworker as being AWOL.

        1. Book Person*

          (Also, can you ask your coworker to stop texting you, or turn your phone off in the office? To me, there seems a difference in “oh, she overslept” and a straight “I don’t know” in response to “where’s coworker today?” You shouldn’t have to explain or cover for her. You don’t know where she is, you just know she isn’t at the office. She should have contacted her supervisor directly to appraise him or her of the situation)

          1. Snoskred*

            YES! THIS! 1000000000x this!

            Tell her one last time that she needs to tell her boss, not you, then block her number, so when you are asked you can legitimately say I don’t know where she is, and I’ve had to cover for her all day.

      4. Adonday Veeah*

        “When I take leave I find someone to cover for me…”

        Really? Is this a requirement? Does this mean you have to cancel your day off or come in when you’re sick if you can’t provide your own coverage? This doesn’t seem right. This seems like one more thing you’ve taken on that isn’t yours to do. You can ask around, but it should ultimately be up to your supervisor to replace you in your absence.

      5. OriginalEmma*

        You’re not letting the office down. She is. You didn’t cause the problem, she did.

      6. JMegan*

        because I feel like I would be letting the office down…

        SHE is the one letting the office down, not you. Repeat that to yourself as many times as necessary – she is the one creating the problem by being late, not you for bringing it up.

        And I think you know that by now anyway! I’ve been following your replies on this thread, and it sounds to me like you have a good plan in place for sorting it all out. Please keep us posted on the outcome.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. OP she is playing on that, too. You are carrying her emotions for her, so she does not have to.
          It seems to me that if you learned to juggle the work without her then she can learn to juggle it without you.

        2. Rory*

          Why do you care about letting the office down, when the office has let YOU down by not doing anything about this jerk’s behavior? You’ve been too loyal for too long. Let them suffer a bit, then maybe they’ll actually do something about the situation.

      7. beckythetechie*

        I’m going to be a little blunt, here, but I don’t mean it to be mean.

        What’s more of a pain in the butt for the office, you doing exactly what you’re assigned to do for exactly as long as you’re assigned to do it and letting her lack of professionalism prove her worth, or you going bibbildy from doing two peoples’ work all the time and needing a week of bed rest/hospitalization? Eventually this burden is going to wear you down to the point that you can’t just plug on without physical/mental consequences. She’s friendly, sure, but is she worth your health and professional reputation?

    2. Joline*

      One thing I enjoyed about my old job is that because we had a long office (one long hallway down for reception with offices and rooms off of that) and not that many staff they put in one of those wireless doorbells and got the receptionist a portable phone.

      They felt that way 1. if she wanted to go do filing or work on a project towards the back (or even put away an office supply delivery or something) she could still answer the calls and 2. if she needed to go to the washroom she’d just drop the portable phone off in the accounting or IT office or something for coverage while she took the break.

      We didn’t all appreciate having to answer the phones (though they weren’t that busy) but it made sense since the receptionist did need to be away sometimes so we all accepted it with varying degrees of good grace. And this way at least we wouldn’t have to leave our spaces to go sit at a front desk.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I also don’t see the big deal if you go to the bathroom and miss 1 or 2 calls. If it is important, they will call back. I’m sure at some places this is a fire-able offense but it shouldn’t be.

        1. LW*

          If the phone rings too many timesbit starts ringing in the directors office who would be incredibly annoyed. I could ask one of the staffers to cover while use the restoom, but again I feel like I need to hurry up and get back to my desk. I might bring on added pressure to myself, but there is a reason we are to have 2 admins in the office each day.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Then you need to let the director get annoyed, so he starts cracking down on flaky coworker. Wen coworker texts that she is going o be off, email both directors and say “Jane just texted that she isn’t coming in today. Will one of you cover the phones at noon during my lunch or should they just go to voicemail? I have to leave at [regular time] to catch my carpool, so I will also need coverage at 5 pm or I will have to close the office.”

            Make it their problem.

            1. Bunny*


              Boss getting annoyed by calls isn’t a problem. It isn’t your problem to solve. It’s the natural consequences of having a flakey co-worker and a regularly understaffed office.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            You are putting responsibility on yourself that does not belong there. No where in the employee manual does it say “Employees will come up with a thousand reasons why the MUST do another employee’s job.”

        2. BadPlanning*

          It could mean lost sales pretty easily, depending on the business and the availability of options. For example, if I were looking for a new accountant and I had two recommendations from friends, if the first one rang and rang and the second one answered, I’d probably go with the second accountant.

          That said, if you need 100% phone coverage, then you need a coverage plan. And rely on 1 person is not a coverage plan.

        3. Joline*

          I don’t see it as a big deal either. But some places do. And if the employer is going to put importance on calls not being missed then I think it’s good if the employer comes up with ways for it not to happen. They decided it was important and as opposed to disciplining someone for not being a robot (ie. needing to pee sometimes) they just figured out a way for it not to happen.

  16. Student*

    “Is there a way to handle this without causing tension?”

    There’s already tension. She is causing tension! Why do you want to spare her the consequences of her bad behavior? Quit setting your expectations so low for how others treat you. You deserve basic decency from people you interact with regularly.

  17. Amy*

    There’s already tension here, and it’s on the boss to handle it. If the boss has been handling it on the down-low (as should be), and there has been no improvement, there needs to be a series of progressive consequences other than annoying other workers.

    Take a two-week vacation and see if that changes how the boss sees things. You’ve been part of an enabling environment. Without you there the dynamic changes. If the boss seems clueless when you get back, start looking for another job. Nobody needs to put up with that crap.

    1. Book Person*

      That would be an interesting experiment in a way, too. Is the coworker chronically late when she alone will be the person to feel the impact of her tardiness (since her absence will be obvious if no one is in the office), or only when she knows the OP will pick up her slack?

  18. some1*

    I’m wondering if the boss doesn’t notice how often the coworker is gone, is the boss in the loop enough about the LW’s work? LW, does your boss understand all of your tasks and responsibilities, and know your goals and accomplishments?

    1. LW*

      So, we both support the director ofinstitute. Then she has a direct supervisor and I a different one. The director is THE MAN and we are ALL working for him. He doesn’t deal with the “admin stuff.” However ~ weird side story~ the director divides his breakfast into 3 every morning and gives a piece to me and a piece to her. The other day he came back from the cafeteria 10 minutes after Jane should be in the office and asks “is jane coming in today?” And I say “she is scheduled to be here.” To which he replies “well if you can’t get to work on time then you dont get breakfast. Enough is enough people. ” i thought~ hallelujah! He DOES notice!

      1. Artemesia*

        that is disgusting. His response is a wisecrack about breakfast but he isn’t doing anything about the problem because he knows you will do the extra work? Time to put your foot down.

  19. KJR*

    I would love to be a fly on the wall if the OP were to leave this job for whatever reason!

  20. Anonsie*

    Who and where is there anywhere worth being until 2am on a weeknight on a regular basis? Is your coworker in Drake’s entourage?

    1. Jennifer*

      Are some really awesome parties being held on Monday nights?

      Seriously, even the college students aren’t partying it up most weeknights.

  21. Snoskred*

    I worked in a call centre which was 24/7 – at night there were 2 shifts which could not easily be covered if someone did not show up – the 10pm-6am shift and the midnight to 7am shift. If one person did not show up for these shifts a worker would be left completely alone in the call centre overnight.

    We had this one girl who consistently was 15-45 minutes late for her shifts, and also would call in sick at least once a week, meaning a last minute scramble to cover that shift.

    For a time people had been covering her rear by working late without getting paid for the extra time, and she had given her login and password to the other workers and asked them to log in for her so she would “appear” to be on time. This became a real problem when she called in sick one day and got someone to log in for her, and half an hour later she called in saying she would not be able to work. Management saw that she had supposedly logged in, and the sh*t hit the fan quite literally, and instead of just her getting into trouble, everyone got into trouble for covering for her. And the late worker was given a written warning.

    Well, from that moment on, the worker bitched endlessly about management. I sat there many times listening to this biting my tongue, when she would whinge about them holding her accountable and they had begun to dock her pay for the time she was late. It took everything within me not to say BUT YOU ARE LATE! Why should they pay you for time you are not here? I can manage to get here on time, everyone else can get here on time, what is wrong with you?

    Eventually they shifted her out of the call centre all together because she was causing so much trouble and so much negativity, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

    We enabled this person to be that person, by covering her rear.

    Please, do not continue to enable this person. :)

  22. Kelly*

    I have one coworker who is my peer but has timeliness issues. He’s current separating from his wife and there’s a complicated custody arrangement which only makes his being on time worse. Before this, it was normal for him to be anywhere from 5 minutes to over a half hour late, which usually was when class wasn’t in session. Our boss never caught him because he usually arrives shortly before he does. He manages to get most of his work done but it feels rushed and the quality is acceptable rather than exceptional. He relies on the fact that he knows he can play catch up once he’s a couple of weeks into the semester and it slows down. For example, he had been sitting on statistics that needed to be entered for almost two months until finally getting them done a couple weeks ago. He also takes a lot of personal calls on work time, mostly from his estranged wife. These are not once or twice a week – they happen daily and are becoming a distraction. There have been times that he’s called when staffing the desk and I have to go cover for him. It’s an annoyance for me because it forces me to break my concentration on what I was doing. The wife has called when he’s been talking with our boss and he’s answered the phone. I think he got chewed out by the boss for that, but he won’t tell her to stop calling him at work.

    Custody arrangements are complicated and any flexibility depends on the attitude of both parties. He has to make special arrangements to come in late or leave early outside his adjusted hours weekly because he’s too willing to help her out. We have some staffing issues this week and he wasn’t willing to ask her to take one of his times with the kids because he didn’t want to give up time with them. At the same time, he’s covering for her next weekend with the expectation that she’ll take another of his weekends.

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