Disciplinary Procedure

What does Disciplinary Procedure mean?

Disciplinary procedures include the list of disciplinary actions an employer can take against an employee for specific issues such as the employee's conduct, failure to attend work, or for low job performance. Disciplinary procedures should be written and accessible by all employees and should include a process for an employee to challenge any assertions made against them through a formal or informal appeals process.

Creating a disciplinary procedure

Creating a sound disciplinary procedure is necessary for most businesses. Several steps must be included. First, there must be a clear code of conduct or general work rules which clearly outlines what is expected of each employee. Next, all employees must be aware and understand the penalties which will be imposed if the code of conduct is not followed. All disciplinary actions must be standardized for all employees and cannot be biased.

All violations should be immediately addressed, and employees should be given a chance to challenge the allegations or to at least present their side of the story. Finally, the company should make it clear that there could be instances where the policy might be modified if needed.

The disciplinary policy must also be fair, and it must aim, not only eliminate the problem, but where possible, to retain the employee, although termination may be necessary in certain situations.

Disciplinary Procedures and Progressive Discipline

Most disciplinary procedures will work best if they offer penalties which are progressive, which means the penalties become more severe as the violations increase. For example, the first violation may only receive an oral warning, but subsequent violations may include written warnings, a suspension, or a termination.

Obviously, some violations are so egregious that the employee should not expect a warning but should expect to be immediately terminated. For example, termination generally results if the employee steals or assaults another employee. The disciplinary procedure must be flexible enough to allow the employer to negotiate the type of discipline which is necessary for a given violation.

Pros of a Disciplinary Procedure

A fair, consistent, and written disciplinary procedure tells your employees that they will be treated fairly. It communicates how, when, and why someone will be disciplined. It eliminates confusion and misunderstandings about expectations for employment. It also lowers the chance an employee, who has been terminated, will challenge the termination.
Disciplinary procedures will, however, require additional administration, documentation, and a knowledgeable person or persons who are responsible for the policy. The plan must also be distributed to all employees and followed. In some cases, if your actions differ from your written policy, you may also open yourself up to legal challenges.

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