Overview: Employee discipline can improve communication with employees and foster positive outcomes - but only if used effectively. An employee's professional development may be aided by any number of measures, including targeted employee training and development or a referral to counseling. However, disciplinary action should also be used to ensure compliance with work rules and to promote workplace safety. In addition, employee discipline is a natural next step if an employee has not complied with a performance improvement plan (PIP) or action plan.
Although progressive discipline may be adequate to address many situations, at times immediate suspension or termination must be used. Employers need the proper tools to tackle commonplace workplace discipline situations, such as poor attendance, substance abuse and workplace theft. These tools include a variety of resources to aid in conducting discipline successfully, including internal policies and procedures and customized warnings.
Trends: States continue to enact legislation enlarging employee protections regarding an array of activities, ranging from smoking to voting to weapons possession. In addition, employees continue to make external agency complaints or file court claims under statutes with antiretaliation or whistleblower protections, such as federal and state False Claims Acts. Depending on state law, employers may be restricted from taking a number of actions during a disciplinary investigation, e.g., employee drug or polygraph testing. In other instances, an employer's failure to adequately discipline an employee or to document the results of a disciplinary investigation may pose greater liability problems, such as in the case of an external agency probe or an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor
New Jersey employers seeking to inform employees of their rights under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) and to provide detailed information regarding reporting procedures should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Utah employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Utah employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to performance appraisals.
In-depth review of the spectrum of District of Columbia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect Employee Discipline
In-depth review of the spectrum of Virginia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
The NLRB has issued a decision addressing the propriety of strict confidentiality provisions in performance improvement plan forms.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule governing whistleblower claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act.
Maine employers with four or more employees seeking to inform employees about protections provided by the Maine Whistleblower's Protection Act.
An employer may use this form to address poor performance in a way that specifically identifies areas of underperformance and encourages appropriate goal setting. The PIP process is much more individualized and requires an employee to be actively engaged in solving performance problems.
HR and legal considerations regarding fair and consistent employee discipline. Advice on disciplining with effective results, no discrimination.