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Progressive discipline

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Updated: 4/11/2007 11:26 am
For employers, disciplinary problems occur when an employee continues to violate or ignore work policies. Though it's generally in their legal rights to terminate an employee at any time for misconduct, companies might want to allow a problem employee multiple chances to correct his or her behavior before resorting to termination. Known as a progressive discipline system, this approach to discipline involves increasing the severity of a penalty each time an employee violates a rule. Usually the discipline progresses from a series of verbal and written warnings to suspension or demotion and finally ending in termination. Some companies include counseling or coaching sessions as part of their progressive discipline system. Remember that a progressive discipline policy doesn't necessarily mean an employer can't discharge an employee for a first offense. The first offense may be serious enough not to warrant a second chance. A progressive discipline system should mainly be used to allow employers the opportunity to correct errant behavior, which can result in several years of productivity from an employee. It's recommended that employers document all policy violations as well as all stages of employee discipline to prevent unnecessary lawsuits for wrongful termination.
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