Progressive Discipline Policy
Author: Darrell R. VanDeusen, Kollman & Saucier, PA
When to Use This Policy
Employers should have a written policy on discipline and discharge that may include a list of violations that will typically be met with discipline. Employers should ensure that their options remain flexible, however, and can achieve that by communicating to employees that the employer will generally attempt to provide progressive discipline, but need not do so. Internally, employers may decide to discipline or terminate employees, depending on the particular facts and circumstances of a situation.
Any written progressive disciplinary policy should avoid using words that create an obligation on the part of the employer such as "must," "will," and "shall." Instead, the employer should strive to use words like "generally," "typically" and "usually" when describing the actions it may take in response to instances of misconduct.
Importantly, the policy should specify that it does not modify the at-will nature of employment.