What steps are usually part of a progressive discipline policy?

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

A progressive discipline policy provides a roadmap for supervisors and employees in disciplinary situations. Progressive discipline policies usually delineate the following steps:

  • Use counseling or a verbal warning as a first step;
  • Follow the verbal warning with a written warning;
  • Follow the written warning with a suspension; and
  • Follow the suspension with termination of employment.

While these types of policies promote consistency in discipline across an organization, a well-written progressive discipline policy will have language that allows for deviations from the usual order for more serious offenses and an at-will disclaimer. With respect to instances of grave workplace misconduct, such as insubordination or violence, immediate termination may be warranted.

As with all disciplinary matters, the employee should be given an opportunity to respond to the level of discipline. In addition, keeping adequate records of discipline should be the final step in any disciplinary procedure.