What is progressive discipline? 

Progressive discipline is the process of using increasingly severe steps to correct inappropriate behaviour after an employee has been given a reasonable opportunity to do so. The underlying principle of sound progressive discipline is to use the most appropriate level of discipline to correct the inappropriate behaviour given the employee’s past disciplinary record. A common generalized application is to provide verbal coaching for the first instance of a wrongdoing, a verbal warning for the second instance that notifies the employee that further instances will lead to more severe punishment, a documented written warning for the third instance, a final written warning stating that any further wrongdoing will lead to termination, and finally terminating the employee who has not corrected their behaviour after participating in the discipline process.

Employers want all employees to succeed and progress in their roles without needing progressive discipline, but what happens if you notice poor performance or misconduct? It’s important to understand that poor performance and misconduct are not the same, so they require different solutions. Both issues need to be properly addressed, but each has its own process.

When should I use it?

It is appropriate when an employee violates a policy, such as:

  • Failing to follow procedures;
  • Unauthorized absences from work;
  • Lateness;
  • Workplace harassment;
  • Wilful neglect of duty; or
  • Misuse of company equipment.

What is the progressive discipline process?

A traditional policy follows four steps:

  1. Verbal warning;
  2. Written warning;
  3. Final written warning and possible suspension; and
  4. Termination.

Download our free Deciphering Progressive Discipline Guide and get started today!  

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