A tighter job market may be contributing to increased punctuality at work. A new CareerBuilder survey reveals that 16 percent of workers said they arrive late to work at least once a week, down from 20 percent in last year's survey. One-in-10 (8 percent) said they are late at least twice a week, down from 12 percent last year. This survey was conducted among more than 5,200 workers between November 5 and November 23, 2009.

Workers shared a variety of reasons for being tardy, led by traffic (32 percent) and lack of sleep (24 percent). Seven percent said getting their kids ready for school or day care was the cause of their lateness, while the same amount (7 percent) said bad weather was the culprit. Other common reasons included public transportation, wardrobe issues or dealing with pets.

"Some workers may be more concerned with the nuances of their on-the-job performance these days, resulting in fewer late arrivals," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. "Regardless of the economy, though, getting to work on time can be more of a priority in some work places than in others. It's important for workers to be aware of their company's tardiness policies and make sure to be honest with their manager if they are going to be late."

While some employers are more lenient with worker tardiness, others have stricter policies. More than one-third (34 percent) of employers said they have terminated an employee for being late.

Hiring managers provided the following examples of the Most outrageous excuses employees offered for arriving late to work:

  • I got mugged and was tied to the steering wheel of my car.
  • My deodorant was frozen to the window sill.
  • My car door fell off.
  • It was too windy.
  • I dreamt I was already at work.
  • I had to go to the hospital because I drank antifreeze.
  • I had an early morning gig as a clown.
  • A roach crawled in my ear.
  • I saw an elderly lady at a bus stop and decided to pick her up.
  • My dog swallowed my cell phone.