Adopting some very good Disciplinary Procedures will ensure that you are going a long way to making sure that everyone is being treated equally. This reduces the risk of being charged with several things from a wrongful termination to discrimination. Those that have been in a leadership role for long understand that any of those options are not good ones. Therefore, make sure you develop solid procedures and stick with them.
One of the first steps in developing Disciplinary Procedures is deciding the steps you will follow from the first warning to termination, if necessary. As a simple example most companies will start with a written counseling and work their way through a number of written warnings to what would be classified as a final written warning ending in termination. There are opportunities where a company will skip some of the steps when the infractions are serious enough, such as stealing or fighting.
The next step in developing your discipline procedures is deciding how much time these infractions will stay on someone’s record and be counted toward the next form of discipline the employee may receive. As an example most companies would keep something on the employee’s record for a minimum of one year and it could be counted if another infraction is made. So if an employee received a written counseling for an infraction and then committed another infraction for any reason the next step in the Disciplinary Procedures would go into effect. So if the previous infraction received a written warning the next infraction would receive a first written warning.
Remember the infractions do not have to be for the same things. One may be for an unexcused absence and the next infraction may be for not following instructions. The clock would begin again if another infraction is committed. Now this is just an example of Disciplinary Procedures that your company could adopt. Provided that you are fair and treat everyone equally you can adopt just about anything. They key is fair and equal. It is when you start randomly issuing discipline is when you get yourself in trouble.
Doing this will almost always draw a claim of wrongful termination if one person is terminated and another is not for the same or similar infraction. This doesn’t seem like it would be possible but it happens all the time within organizations. People let personalities enter into the picture and that spells trouble. Yes it is ok to consider the amount of time a person has been with the company. It is ok to consider the amount of contributions they have made to the company. The only time it becomes a problem is when you start to fabricate those contributions, or depending on the infraction it doesn’t matter. Stealing would be one of those infractions. Striking another employee would be one of those types of infractions.
So as you consider the Procedures you want to adopt for your company think them through clearly and I know that you will be successful!
Good Luck and May God Bless You!
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