How to Write a Formal Letter Requesting to Be Late at Work

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When you accepted your job, the human resources department or your supervisor discussed your schedule, and chances are you agreed to the hours they offered. At the time you accepted the schedule, you probably had no way of knowing that your circumstances would change or that you simply would not be able to get to work at the time to which you agreed. If you have been continually late or if your personal circumstances require that you report to work at a later time, it's a good idea to ask your supervisor in writing for a later start time. Submitting a written request creates a formal record of your request in the event that your request is denied or if your schedule changes and you need proof of it.

Use the Formal Letter Format For the Late Permission Letter

Because this is a formal request, compose your written request in the correct business letter format. Business correspondence typically is in block format, which means the paragraphs are flush with the left margin; do not indent paragraphs. The date of your letter, addressee's name and address, subject line, body and closing salutation also are flush with the left margin. Your subject line should include your name, position and employee number if it's different from your Social Security number – for security reasons, do not include your Social Security in a letter that may land on the desk of someone who doesn't need to know it. In addition, use white or off-white paper for your letter, a font like Times New Roman or Calibri, and sign your name in ink before you provide your supervisor and the human resources department with their copies.

If your office is largely paperless and communicated via email you can prepare a coming late to work email instead. Keep the language formal, or prepare your request as a letter and attach it to an email instead.

Directly State Your Request

Instead of the reader needing to scan the entire letter before she gets to your actual request, state the request in the first paragraph of your letter. For example, you could write, "I began working in the Purchasing Department as an entry-level agent, on June 14, 2013, and on June 14, 2018, was promoted to senior purchasing agent. My current work schedule is from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The purpose of this letter is to request a schedule change so that my hours become 9 a.m. until 6 p.m."

Don't Be Late

Frame your request in a positive tone and avoid using the word "late." If you are requesting a permanent schedule change, you're asking for different hours, not permission to be late every day. And you're not requesting that your supervisor reduce your working hours by the amount of time that you are late to work. If your request is for a finite period, indicate that by stating, "The purpose of this letter is to request a schedule change so that, from April 1 until April 30, [insert year], my hours become 9 a.m. until 6 p.m."

Give an Honest Reason

While it's also a good practice to be honest with your employer, if you're requesting to come in an hour later because you're not a morning person and you just can't make it on time, you might want to reconsider that as a reasonable basis for your request. But if your reason is that you have personal or family obligations that could be better served if you have extra time to get to work, indicate that. You needn't be too personal; for example, picking up your child from day care or carpooling with your spouse, seems to be a reasonable basis for the request. You be the judge, however, based on what your relationship is with your supervisor or manager, and whether they actually need to know the specific reason why you want a schedule change.

Make It Worth the Employer's While

If your request is because you have been continually late and you believe that coming in an hour later than your typical schedule will help you report to work on time, be candid about your challenges with getting to work on time. Suggest that your attendance could improve significantly if you had a different schedule. This is one way to address an aspect of your job performance, and you can mention in your letter that you are trying to be proactive about improving your performance through addressing the problem area of attendance. For example, you might start the sentence, "I think the new working hours would have the following positive effects on the business…"

Provide Assurances

You might feel the need to assure your supervisor that your schedule change won't negatively impact the department's operations or your ability to handle the workload. Maybe you have tracked the customer calls you receive and notice that virtually all of your customers call after 9 a.m., then you can add to your letter that you have monitored the peaks in customer calls and that the schedule change can benefit the organization. In your letter, you can also state that you foresee no challenges to accomplishing all of your assigned tasks, which gives further assurance that you have thought this through and are certain the schedule change won't cause problems.

Follow Up

The final paragraph of your letter for late coming to the office should restate your request, and if the schedule change is a permanent one, suggest the date on which you want the change to take effect. Ask whether there is additional paperwork you need to complete to implement the schedule change. This puts the onus on the HR department or your supervisor to give you a response, at least about paperwork. Also, when written in this way it sounds more positive than a letter that hints you're unsure the request will be approved. Thank the HR department and supervisor for their consideration and let them know when you will follow up to get approval.

References

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.