Employees who are late for work cost small firms an average £13,632 a year, according to research from employment law firm Peninsula.
The average small business looses four hours and a half hours of productive time a week due to lateness, a big rise on the three hours and ten minutes a week in 1998.
Unsurprisingly, staff are most often late on Mondays.
Almost eight out of ten of the 1086 small businesses polled said employee timekeeping was a problem, while three quarters felt that the problem had got worse in the last five years.
The UK’s ever-worsening transport infrastructure may be one reason for the increase. Figures released last month by motoring organisation the RAC Foundation found that the UK’s car-addicted commuters face the longest average travelling times to work in Europe - 45 minutes per day.
In the City of London, chronic transport delays are estimated to cost a minimum of £750 a year per City worker - just under £1 million per business day for the City as a whole.
But Peninsula found that eight out of ten had little idea about how to solve the problem that most said that their efforts to combat the situation had proved to be unsuccessful.
Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said employers should put in place formal procedures to handle the issue.
"Introduce into contracts of employment certain procedures on what to do if an employee expects to be late," he suggests. This can take the form of a call to the individual’s line manager and a reason should be given.
"You must make it clear that as an employer you do not tolerate lateness unless a genuine reason can be provided and clear guidelines on the matter should be included within your employee handbooks."