Tardiness is the habit of being late or delaying arrival.[1] Being late as a form of misconduct may be formally punishable in various arrangements, such as workplace, school, etc. An opposite personality trait is punctuality.

Workplace tardiness

United States Code

Workplace tardiness is one of attendance issues, along with the absence from work and failure to properly notify about absence or being late.[2]

To be at work on time is an implied obligation unless stated otherwise. It is a legal reason for discharge in cases when it is a demonstrable disregard of duty: repeated tardiness without compelling reasons, tardiness associated with other misconduct, and single inexcusable tardiness resulted in grave loss of employer's interests.[2]

If tardiness is minor or without interference with employer's operations, it is not to be legally considered as misconduct.[2]

Characteristics of tardy people

Diana DeLonzor in her book Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged classified habitually tardy people into 7 categories:[3][4][5]

  • a "rationalizer" insists on blaming the circumstances instead of acknowledging responsibility for tardiness.
  • a "producer" tries to do as much as possible in time available and as a result has difficulties with too tight schedules.
  • a "deadliner" enjoys the adrenaline rush during the attempts to beat the time target.
  • an "indulger" has little self-control.
  • for a "rebel" running late is defying the authority and the rules.
  • an "absent-minded professor".
  • an "evader" puts a higher priority to their own needs compared to being on time.

Racial stereotypes

There are several stereotypes that associate tardiness with certain categories of people.

African time is the perceived cultural tendency toward a more relaxed attitude to time among Africans both in Africa and abroad.[6][7] It is generally used in a pejorative and racist sense about tardiness in appointments, meetings, and events,[8] but it also includes the more leisurely, relaxed, and less rigorously-scheduled lifestyle found in African countries, especially as opposed to the more clock-bound pace of daily life in Western countries.[9] CP Time (from "Colored People's Time") is a dated American expression similarly referring to a stereotype of African Americans as frequently being late.[10][11][12][13]

Other terms referring to a loose attitude to time include "Hawaiian time" and "island time".[14]

"Fiji Time" is a local saying in Fiji to refer to the slow pace on the island, and it is widely used by tourist focused businesses both in advertising and products and souvenirs.

"Filipino Time" refers to the perceived habitual tardiness of Filipinos.[15] It bears similarities with African Time and CP Time and the term is usually used in a pejorative sense as one of the defining negative traits of the Filipino.[16] Filipino theologian José M. De Mesa pointed out that the widespread acceptance of "Filipino Time" as one of the traits that defines the Filipino is an example of successful internalization of the negative image of Filipinos as perceived by the Spanish and American colonizers.[17] He argued that the persistence of this colonial self-image among Filipinos contributed to the weakening of their corporate cultural self and to the undermining of their growth, as it compelled many Filipinos to reject themselves and to be ashamed of their identity.[18] He also noted that a local theologian was surprised to discover that many of the writings concerning Filipino self-identity mostly focused on the negative and disparaging traits such as "Filipino time", which is an evidence of the seeming penchant of Filipinos for self-flagellation.[19] Some sources identify the origins of the Filipino's lack of punctuality to the Spanish colonial period, as arriving late was considered to be a sign of status back then, as depicted in a scene in Chapter 22 of José Rizal's novel El Filibusterismo.[20][21][22] However, an alternative interpretation of "Filipino time" sets aside its negative connotations by considering the very concept as an example case of the unsuccessful attempt at imposing Western cultural standards (such as the notion of "time") on Filipino and other non-Western cultures and thus as a successful tool of national resistance.[23] The 1976 National Artist of the Philippines for Literature Nick Joaquin challenged the narrative of Spanish colonial roots of "Filipino time", instead identifying its origins in the pre-colonial culture of timelessness before the introduction of the "foreign tyrant clock" during the Spanish era, and thus to the local resistance against the transition from the pre-colonial clockless society to the foreign-imposed clock-based culture.[24]

See also


  1. "Tardy", dictionary entries
  2. "Misconduct MC 15" California Employment Development Department
  3. Diana DeLonzor, Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged, 2003, ISBN 0971649995
  4. "Seven types of late people", The Herald News
  5. "For the Chronically Late, It’s Not a Power Trip", The New York Times
  6. "What is this thing called African Time?". Daily Maverick. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  7. Josh Macabuag. "Adjusting to Africa time - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  8. "Can Africa keep time?". BBC News. 28 October 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  9. "Backdrop of poverty to a wealth of nations". The Daily Telegraph. August 26, 2002. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  10. "Baratunde Thurston: Black History Month: An Explanation of CP Time by Your Very Delayed Guest Book Editor". Huffingtonpost.com. 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  11. Nikki Lynette (2009-12-03). ""CP Time": Does my Black race indicate I'll always be late? | Becoming Nikki Lynette". Chicagonow.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  12. "A Geography of Time". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  13. "Valerie June On Learning To Love 'Perfectly Imperfect' Voices : The Record". NPR. 2013-08-09. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  14. "The chronically late have their reasons, but the price can be high", By KRISTIN DIZON, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER, November 17, 2003 (retrieved March 25 2016)
  15. The Filipino Moving Onward 6' 2008 Ed. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 66. ISBN 9789712341557. Filipino Time - There are many Filipinos, who until now cannot observe punctuality. For some, Filipino time means coming a few minutes or even an hour after the designated time for a program, party, field trip, meeting, or any celebration. This does not only speak of our lack of discipline but also lack of respect for other people. Schedule or appointments are disrupted which can mean not only losses in business opportunities but may also destroy good relationships.
  16. Aguila, Almond N. (14 December 2015). "The Filipino, Diaspora and a Continuing Quest for Identity". Social Science Diliman. 11 (2). ISSN 2012-0796. These foreign impressions about Filipinos continue to haunt us in how we imagine ourselves through negative traits such as “mañana habit” (habitual procrastination) “Filipino time” (habitual tardiness) and “ningas kugon” (starting but never completing tasks) (Enriquez, 1992, p.72).
  17. De Mesa, José M. (1 April 1998). "Tasks in the Inculturation of Theology: The Filipino Catholic Situation". Missiology. 26 (2): 195. doi:10.1177/009182969802600208. ISSN 0091-8296. . In the psychological categories we have used earlier, the Filipinos have internalized the image their colonial masters had of them, an image that continues to debilitate their corporate cultural self and to undermine its growth.
  18. De Mesa, José M. (1 April 1998). "Tasks in the Inculturation of Theology: The Filipino Catholic Situation". Missiology. 26 (2): 195. doi:10.1177/009182969802600208. ISSN 0091-8296. Colonialism, together with its continuation in neo-colonialism, had compelled people to reject themselves and to be ashamed of their identity. These had also persuaded the local people to want what their Western counterparts want. The abuse they had suffered in the hands of the Spaniards and the Americans had substantially lowered their self-esteem and demeaned their dignity. In the psychological categories we have used earlier, the Filipinos have internalized the image their colonial masters had of them, an image that continues to debilitate their corporate cultural self and to undermine its growth. It has become a force that militates against their well-being; it has become an enemy that they have to overcome. A frightening aspect of this reality is that this enemy is literally within; it resides in their minds.
  19. De Mesa, José M. (1 April 1998). "Tasks in the Inculturation of Theology: The Filipino Catholic Situation". Missiology. 26 (2): 191–200. doi:10.1177/009182969802600208. ISSN 0091-8296. This literature also gave the impression that Filipinos were primarily a bundle of problems for which a variety of remedies had to be prescribed. If the Filipinos are seemingly their own harshest critics, could this be the colonized mind's self-flagellation at work?
  20. Lacanilao, Pauline (17 October 2017). "Jose Rizal on 'Filipino Time'". Medium. Although the Americans coined the term during their military occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century, the phenomenon goes as far back as Spanish Colonization (which lasted from 1521 to 1898).
  21. Tan, Brian (23 September 2017). "Why Filipinos follow Filipino Time". Medium. However, this habit of tardiness was already commonplace even during the Spanish colonial period, and students may even remember that it was featured in Jose Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo”.
  22. Posadas, Joy (2011). "Chapter 30 - Filipino Time". Etiquette Guide to the Philippines: Know the Rules that Make the Difference!. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 9781462900466. This mindset can be traced back to more than three hundred years under Spanish rule.
  23. McCallus, Joseph P. (1994). "DISCOURSE CHARACTERISTICS OF A FILIPINO ELECTRONIC DISCUSSION GROUP". Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. 22 (1): 51. ISSN 0115-0243. JSTOR 29792143. One of the more zealous answers framed the topic within a nationalist framework, lionizing the concept of "Filipino time" by saying "if ever there was an unsuccessful case of imposing Western... cultural standards on Filipino culture, it is our stubborn refusal to follow 'objective' time... Filipinos (and other non-western cultures) refuse this notion of time."
  24. Joaquin, Nick (2004). Culture and history. Rex Book Store, Inc. p. 12. ISBN 9789712714276. OCLC 1043947726. From an equivalent viewpoint today can we explain, say, "Filipino time" as a quality lingering over from the "timelessness" of our old culture, and as a dogged resistance against the advent of the foreign tyrant clock, and as a sign of the effort it cost to readjust from clockless to clocked time; but to identify the problem with a sentiment - that, bah, we were unchanged by the clock - would be not pride but prejudice, and grossly simplistic.
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