While it would be nice if your employees always followed the rules and you never had an issue with troublemakers, that is simply not going to be the case. Eventually, someone is going to break a rule, and that means you are going to need to discipline the culprit. You should already have a discipline policy on the books so that you know what actions to take for certain infractions. This policy should be given to all employees upon being hired so that everyone understands what will and will not be tolerated.
Steps Your Discipline Policy Should Take
Naturally, you want your policy to be progressive. An employee breaking a rule for the first time should obviously be given more leniency than someone who consistently breaks rules. Here is a list you should consider for your company’s progression system.
- Verbal Warning: Often times, you can curtail negative behavior simply by pulling an employee aside and telling him or her to stop doing it. This oral warning should take place in private because you do not want to embarrass an employee in front of others. This could result in a significant reduction in morale.
- Written Warning: If the bad behavior continues, then you should issue a written warning. This lets the person in question know that he or she is moving up in the progression system and really needs to stop the inappropriate actions. This also gives you documentation that you gave an employee warning before a possible termination.
- Suspension: Before actually firing someone, you should consider having a step where the employee is given unpaid time off. This informs the employee that he or she is on thin ice.
- Termination: Sometimes problem employees simply will not change behaviors, in which case, you will have no choice but to let them go.
Times When Termination May Be Immediate
Some issues will be so severe that you will have no choice but to skip every step in the progression policy and immediately fire someone. These actions should be laid out in the policy you give everyone at the beginning of employment so that everyone is aware of what actions will cause them to lose their jobs. Some actions that may lead to this include:
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work
- Fighting on company property
- Destruction of company property
- Any form of harassment
- Insider trading
Advantages of the Progression System
There are a number of benefits to be gained by enforcing a strict, fair disciplinary system. It can serve as a boost in morale to your other workers. While the one employee may not like getting disciplined, your other employees will see that their hard work does mean something. Employees can become disenfranchised very quickly if they see that a bad employee does not receive any reprimands for bad behavior, but if people see that there are consequences, then they will know that their good behavior is appreciated.
Having a clear policy upfront will also protect you against potential lawsuits that stem from a termination. If an employee is fired, then he or she may sue the company claiming the firing took place due to discrimination. Even if it is not true, it can still eat up a lot of your resources trying to defend your business. You will have a much easier time defending the accusations if you are clearly able to show that your former employee violated the company’s discipline policy. Showing that a written warning and suspension were issued first will show the court that you followed protocol. They will show that the termination was a result of not following the rules instead of discrimination.
By establishing clear rules that are applied equally to everyone, you will help ensure a productive workplace.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.