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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

3 steps for progressive discipline of problematic workers

Employee discipline can be a minefield of potential liability for modern employers. Workers are more sensitive than ever when it comes to disciplinary tactics, and you could face consequences if you behave in a way that a worker feels violate their rights.

Progressive discipline is an ideal way for companies to reform problem workers and protect themselves simultaneously. What are the basic steps of progressive discipline?

The first step is a verbal warning

When a worker first breaks a rule or comes close to violating one, the manager or supervisor who notices the issue should warn the employee verbally. A verbal warning should also come with an email to human resources or to management to alert them about the supervisor or manager taking this first step. That way, there is an internal record in case the company needs to move on to the next step.

The second step is a written reprimand

If a worker has already received a verbal reprimand and has not improved their job performance or addressed the violation of rules, then a formal written reprimand is necessary. The worker will have to sign the reprimand to acknowledge that they have violated the rules. After multiple written reprimands, your company may have to move on to the next step.

Recalcitrant workers may need some time off to reconsider their actions

Some businesses may be able to send an employee home for a multiple-day leave of absence with no pay due to disciplinary issues. Taking a pay hit and missing work could be enough to remind a worker about the importance of compliance.

If they still break the rules or if an unpaid leave of absence is not an option, then the final step in progressive discipline will be termination. If you reach that final step, you should have an adequate paper trail to protect your company from claims of wrongful termination or misconduct.

Learning more about employment law can help you avoid litigation after you terminate a worker.

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