Establishing progressive discipline policies and procedures ensures that employees understand that there will be progressively negative consequences should they choose to continue to act inappropriately or under perform after the issue has been brought to their attention. Progressive disciplinary policies also protect the employee by making sure that they are communicated to when there is a problem and given the opportunity to correct the situation.

When to Use a Progressive Disciplinary Policy

There are some performance issues that can be corrected with a structured disciplinary process that focuses on corrective goal setting. Some examples of unacceptable behavior that could be corrected with a progressive discipline process include:

  • Dress code violations
  • Arriving late to start a shift or return from a break
  • Unexplained short absence
  • Not following company processes and procedures
  • Rude, uncooperative or insubordinate behavior

While having a company or organization progressive disciplinary policy is important it is equally important to have an employment lawyer review the wording to make sure it is legally sound. This step can not be stressed enough as it could be a determining factor in a wrongful dismissal case i.e. if the progressive disciplinary policy was poorly written and contained holes that a legal team could use to their advantage when fighting a wrongful dismissal case.

Exempt Behaviors From a Progressive Discipline Policy

It is important to consider what behaviors or infringements will not be subject to the HR policy when writing a progressive discipline policy.

Some behaviors or infringements are typically not included as they are grounds for dismissal. It is important to act on these infringements consistently to demonstrate to employees that there is zero tolerance for serious infringements. These serious infringements include:

  • Illegal activities (stealing, drug dealing or drug possession etc.)
  • Reporting to work impaired due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Carrying a weapon that is not related to the work performed
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Destruction of property
  • Misrepresenting facts on a resume to secure employment
  • Serious violation of a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement
  • Extended absence without explanation

Elements of a Progressive Discipline Policy

The elements of a progressive discipline policy should include:

  1. The steps of the process and who is responsible for each step including how each step should be documented
  2. Document storage parameters (location, security/privacy, duration of storage etc.)
  3. A list of behaviors that will be subject to the progressive discipline policy and behaviors that are grounds for dismissal

Progressive Discipline Company Policy Samples

Review sample progressive discipline policies from different organizations or companies from the same or a similar industry before drafting policy for review by the corporate or organization’s lawyer.

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