9 Steps in Designing and Administering Fair and Effective Discipline and Discharge Policies

Author: Kenneth Sprang
Effective discipline and discharge policies help in easier administration and boosting employee morale and motivation. Effective policies also help in promoting fairness and equality among employees, avoiding discrimination and other wrongful discipline or discharge claims. This article will explain the step by step procedures involved in designing and administering fair and effective discipline and discharge policies.
1. Investigation
The supervisor and/or other representatives of the Employer management will investigate charges of misconduct, to the extent necessary or appropriate.
2. Union Representation
Any member of the bargaining unit represented by the Union may request that a Union representative be present during any meeting with the employer management in the judgment of the employee’s conduct which is likely to lead to discipline or discharge.
3. Employee’s Opportunity to Explain
Whenever an employee is charged with an act or omission, conduct, misconduct, inadequate job performance, infraction of Employer rules, or any other behavior or conduct that may subject the employee to discipline or discharge (referred to collectively as “conduct”), the employee will have an opportunity to explain to his or her supervisor the details of the relevant incident or problem related to the conduct.
4. Details of Infraction
The employee’s supervisor will discuss with the employee the conduct which is the basis for the discipline, providing details and circumstances related to the conduct. The supervisor will, where applicable and appropriate, point out to the employee past infractions, if any. The supervisor shall advise the employee, if applicable under the circumstances, that the failure to improve performance and/or correct the employee’s conduct may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.
5. Performance Improvement
Whenever an employee is disciplined, the employee’s supervisor will make specific recommendations to the employee regarding how the employee’s conduct can be improved to a satisfactory standard. A copy of any such performance improvement plan or recommendations will be given to the employee by the supervisor.
6. Progressive Discipline
In progressive discipline an employee who demonstrates inappropriate conduct will be given a modest penalty for a first offense. Any subsequent offenses will result in increasingly more severe penalties up to and including discharge. The severity of the discipline will depend on the nature of the offense. In addition, some conduct is so serious or offensive that progressive discipline is not appropriate or reasonable. In such cases an employee may be subject to immediate suspension or discharge, or immediate application of a severe penalty short of suspension or discharge.
7. Written Reprimands
All written reprimands will contain a statement of the specific offense(s); reference to and identification of any prior verbal warning issued to the employee; the expectations for improvement, including the timeframe (a performance improvement plan).
8. Warning Regarding the Future
A statement warning the employee that a repetition of this or a similar offense or future violations of employer policy may constitute grounds for additional disciplinary action, suspension, or dismissal could be issued.
9. Cumulative Offenses
Progressive discipline does not require that the employee be reprimanded multiple times for the same conduct before being subject to suspension or discharge. Employer may consider accumulated conduct of different kinds in determining what discipline to impose. For example, an employee who receives three written warnings for different or even unrelated conduct may be subject to suspension or dismissal.

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