Progressive Discipline Policy

Making sure your business has a progressive discipline policy is imperative to your survival when you have disciplinary issues. I used the word when, and not if, since the only way you will not have a disciplinary issue is if you just close your eyes to it and ignore it! Don't ignore it!

The entire of a disciplinary policy is to make it clear what actions your business will take if anyone violates an established policy. An established policy that you may have is if someone calls in sick too many times. As we all know we hire staff to do a job and if they don't show up for work due to illness or any other non emergency it puts a strain on your business. If this happens enough it should be dealt with, with a written warning letter or some other form of disciplinary action.

A common progressive disciplinary program would be…

There are two parts of a sound progressive disciplinary policy. Oh by the way they need to be presented in an employee handbook.

The first step in a sound progressive discipline policy is to establish what your employment policies are on certain things, such as, attendance, tardiness, smoking, insubordination, sexual harassment, discrimination, gossip, fighting, destruction of company policy, etc. Once you have these policies in place in your employee handbook and made it available to all your employees then you can take action on them if someone violates it.

This brings up the second part of your progressive discipline policy and that is the discipline phase. Your disciplinary policy should define what happens if someone violates any of your employee policies. A common progressive disciplinary program would be a verbal warning, written counseling, first written warning, second written warning, and a third and final written warning that would end in termination. Most policies state that if they receive a third written warning in a twelve month rolling calendar period they would be terminated.

If your employees know what your policy is…

Some offenses may end in immediately termination. Offenses that may fit into this category would be being intoxicated on duty, stealing, fighting, etc.

Your policy is a lot like a speed limit sign. When the speed limit is posted a driver knows when they are breaking the law. If your employees know what your policy is on certain things then they know when they have broken the policy. It will come as less of a surprise when you hold them accountable for their actions.

Remember' the entire purpose of a progressive discipline policy is to correct behavior and not to punish. Your effort should be to implement the least amount of disciplinary action possible to correct the behavior.

The other important factor of any progressive disciplinary program is to treat everyone equally. If you don't you are setting yourself up for a discrimination or a wrongful discharge claim. Think in terms of one hundred thousand to over a million dollars for the average settlement to one of these claims if you are found guilty.

Good Luck and May God Bless You!

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