A Progressive Discipline Process Will Bring Order To The Workplace

Progressive Discipline

Outlining your progressive discipline process within your employee handbook will be a critical element. If there is one part of employment law that will spell trouble for you it will be in this area! We are living in a time where everything is always somebody else's fault. I think I heard this morning on the news that someone is trying to say that because they had too many cups of coffee they were unable to control their actions. Then there is the lady that sued McDonalds' because the coffee was too hot! I always thought coffee was supposed to be hot!

Experience the Glorious Part of Implementing Your Progressive Discipline Process

So, get ready to experience the glorious part of implementing your progressive discipline process, which would be listening to all the ridiculous excuses that people will come up with. In the end we just hope that our policy is strong enough and carried out in a fair and equal manner as to not end up in an employment lawsuit! Maybe I should change that to not lose an employment lawsuit, since I am certain that at some point in time some idiot is going to sue you no matter what you do! How’s that for a positive outlook?

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If the employee continues to disregard company policy…

The term progressive discipline process should mean that you' are going to start with the least amount of discipline to correct a behavior and move toward a harsher one. If the employee continues to disregard company policy, they will progress to eventually to being terminated. Our hope however should always be that their behavior will improve, versus getting worse!

So what would be the least amount of discipline to correct a behavior that could be a part of your progressive discipline process? Good question! It will depend a lot on what the behavior is. For instance if someone is tardy a set amount of times you may consider a written counseling documenting that they need to correct this behavior. This perhaps would be considered the least amount of discipline! On the other hand if someone struck someone in the mouth with their fist, being terminated would be the appropriate action in my book. Perhaps even contact the police department. The difference is that someone hopefully can correct being tardy, versus if someone is striking someone else, we can no longer tolerate that behavior at all, period!

Clipart3 - One red cartoon with other regular people

A rolling calendar is a twelve-month period that keeps moving…

I might suggest one way to handle a progressive discipline process and that would be to start with a written counseling. Then move to a first written warning letter, a second written warning letter, and a third and final written warning letter that would result in the employee being terminated. I would suggest that the discipline stay active for a minimum of one full twelve month rolling calendar period. A rolling calendar is a twelve month period that keeps moving. So as an example if someone received a form of discipline on June 3rd of 2010, it would remain active until June 2nd of 2011.

In the scenario above we are allowing an employee to express poor behavior four times before they are being terminated. If before the twelve month rolling calendar expires one of the disciplinary actions passes the twelve months it would no longer be counted toward the four. Keep in mind this is only an example of a progressive discipline process. You can design it in any way you wish provided you are fair and consistent! This is the key to any progressive discipline process. If you apply your discipline process to one employee you better apply it to all. Not doing so will end you up in a courtroom faster than you can say "Judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of one million dollars!"

Anywhere from $100,000 to over one million dollars…

You think I'm kidding when I say this but the average settlement in employment cases today is anywhere from $100,000 to over one million dollars. Mush of this starts from not applying their progressive discipline process fairly. Your employee handbook is one of the most important documents you will have when it comes to employment law. Not having one is a good way to get caught! Period!

There are going to be certain behaviors/actions that will qualify for immediate termination or shortening the disciplinary process. Just to give you a couple of examples we may want to list the following as grounds for immediate termination;

Gross Insubordination


Willful Discrimination

Willful Harassment of any kind



Violating any state or federal laws

Unavailable for Work (This may be effective in cases where someone was arrested)

Falsification of a company document

These are just a few to get you to start thinking about what is important you your workplace. As another example if you have company vehicles you may want to include using a company vehicle for personal business. In today's world we live on the computer so maybe a policy on viewing pornographic materials.

Use your progressive discipline process to effectively manage your business so that you can correct or eliminate problem employees. Make sure they your progressive discipline process is included in your employee handbook and given to every employee. Each employee should sign acknowledging that they have received a copy of your employee handbook.

Good Luck and May God Bless You!


Does A Progressive Discipline Program Increase Productivity?

One way to simplify your progressive discipline program is to utilize employee discipline forms. Many times, an employer overlooks unacceptable behavior from an employee because they just don’t want to be burdened with the paper work that is required. Of course, we know that this never works. In fact, in many cases other employees know believe this type of behavior is acceptable.

A Solid Progressive Discipline Program Will Increase Productivity and Bring Order Back to the Workplace!

There is a fairly simple answer to this and that is to use employee discipline forms that allow you to document and review that unacceptable behavior with the employee. Instead of fighting with yourself to construct a written warning letter you can utilize a discipline form.

I believe that utilizing employee discipline forms are fully acceptable by states; however, because we are not licensed legal professionals it is strongly recommended that you research this with your own state. Understand we have used employee discipline forms ourselves. The entire purpose of the discipline form is to document poor behavior that violates your business rules and policies.

Instead of having to be a great writer you can simply check a few blocks …

Just a reminder that employee discipline is for the purpose of correcting poor behavior and not to punish! The one exception to that would be for any violation that merits termination. Some examples of that may be stealing, fighting, gross insubordination, no call no show, continued violations of your policies, etc. Employee discipline forms are designed for that purpose as well. Remember they are recording the fact that you had a discussion with the employee about their behavior. Instead of having to be a great writer you can simply check a few blocks and fill in a few lines about what happened and what they should be doing.

We offer an excellent discipline form on this website. I suppose you can make your own employee discipline forms but for a low price like this it would cost you more in productivity to do so. You may want to check it out and see if it fits your needs.

Employee disciplines forms can be used for all levels of employee discipline from a written counseling to a final written warning letter. The key is just checking the block identifying what the level of discipline is. It will quickly identify to the employee where they are at in the progressive disciplinary process. Provided you have an employee handbook that includes a progressive discipline program you will be able to identify that within your employee discipline form also. This makes it easy if you have to utilize this later in a legal proceeding.

When you realize that the average legal settlement for employment lawsuits is anywhere from one hundred thousand to over one million dollars! 

Anyone that has managed employees for any length of time should know the feeling of being hit with an employee dispute. Your blood pressure goes up and then the fear of losing your business follows. Especially when you realize that the average legal settlement for employment law suits is anywhere from one hundred thousand to over one million dollars! Whether it has merit or not it will cost you if it ends up in a legal proceeding. One way to help possibly avoid this would be to have any form of discipline well document. Using employee discipline forms is just one way to do this. This does not eliminate your responsibility to issue progressive discipline fairly and equally.

I can’t stress enough that you should investigate thoroughly any behavior that an employee demonstrates prior to issuing employee discipline forms. This means don’t guess at what you think you know. It may mean that you have to interview witnesses. It may mean that you have to look through records verifying what you believe. You may need to look back to see what other employees received for the same or similar behavior. Don’t avoid this part of any progressive disciplinary action. Don’t react in anger!

Thank you for reviewing this information on a Progressive Discipline Program and may God bless you!

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