Progressive Discipline Policies

Hello, and welcome to LegalEase. Today I’d like to talk about Progressive Discipline policies. Why do we need them and what should go into them?

Employers, why do you need a Progressive Discipline policy? Well, I typically tell my clients there are two primary reasons for having a Progressive Discipline policy: (1) it notifies employees of acceptable conduct; and (2) you establish an agreement between the employer and employee that any violation of the policy will result in future consequences. There is a mutual understanding that if you do this, something will happen.

Okay, what should go into a Progressive Discipline policy.  

  • Typically, we put levels of discipline in our policy that include verbal warnings, written warnings, suspension, and termination. It is also important to have language in the policy that says we can skip steps, if we need to. So, if you come to work and start fighting with coworkers, you will not receive  a verbal warning, you will be terminated.
  • It is also important to indicate the number of offenses required at each step of discipline before an employee moves to the next step. In other words, how many verbal warnings must an employee receive before the employee receives a written warning?  
  • Employers should also consider whether violations will drop off after a certain period. Let’s say an employee received a written warning two years ago. Should that written warning still be in the employee’s file? Should her next infraction include suspension, or will you allow that violation to drop off the employee’s record after a certain period?
  • Finally, it’s important to include language about at-will employment. Even though you may have a Progressive Discipline policy that says employees will be disciplined in certain steps, employees can be terminated at any time because employment is at-will. This language is important in a Progressive Discipline policy and, quite frankly, in any policy.

If you need help drafting a Progressive Discipline policy, please give us a call. We will be happy to draft it for you. You can schedule a consultation through our website, and our link is always in the bio. Thank you so much for joining LegalEase.