Strike One, Strike Two…
Strike One, Strike Two…

Strike One, Strike Two…

Progressive discipline policies are a topic that HR teams and managers alike have debated as far as their overall impact on organizational behavior and whether such policies can be enacted on a consistent, equitable basis throughout an organization.

What are progressive discipline policies?

Commonly referred to as corrective action or disciplinary procedures, progressive discipline policies are established with the objective of increasing the severity of penalties resulting from repeat occurrences that violate company policies. Most disciplinary policies are organized in a sequence such as below:

* Verbal warning
* Written warning
* Final written warning
* Termination

Progressive discipline encourages consistent practice with regard to workplace policy violations and it provides employees with a concise policy that clearly communicates the employer’s disciplinary actions with regard to serial policy infractions.

It is recommended that when the issue is directly related to job performance and the employer believes that the employee has the potential to improve upon his/her quality of work or expectations, a performance improvement plan may be implemented into the sequence.

Some employers will include suspension in the progressive discipline cycle; it is recommended that this step is reserved for workplace policy violations that require extensive investigation. Suspension is most beneficial in cases involving an employee who has been accused of a serious violation of company policy and the employee’s presence in the workplace could potentially compromise the investigation.

Progressive discipline policies broadly communicate to employees the consequences of violating a workplace policy as well as the severity of an employee’s infraction of the employer’s guidelines.

In addition to the steps encompassing this type of corrective action policy, it is imperative to consider regression with regard to the prior states of the disciplinary cycle. An employer may incorporate a practice stipulating that any infractions that recur over twelve months following the prior one will not be treated as a subsequent step in the disciplinary process; rather, the violation will be handled as an initial violation and will be disciplined accordingly.

What are downsides of progressive discipline policies?

Whereas this type of policy is systemic, employers should consider the downside of progressive discipline policies. A common characteristic of employee response to a progressive discipline policy is one of timing; employees are aware of the timeframe in which the repeated behavior will no longer be treated as a progressive step within the disciplinary cycle and may be more prone to repetitive infractions.

Additionally, employers should be mindful of severe workplace violations where adherence to the discipline policy would not be logical, due to the level of severity of the infraction. For example, the organization would not issue a verbal warning as a consequence of a physical altercation in the workplace. It is important to incorporate flexibility into the progressive disciplinary system when responding to severe workplace violations. Employers should ensure that any discipline policy in place alerts employees that the appropriate level of discipline will be determined at the employer’s discretion.

Whatever policy your organization establishes with regard to employee discipline, it is crucial to ensure your procedures are equitable and consistently applied, so they will not be arbitrary in nature or discriminatory in intent.

Looking for sample policies, handbook templates, HR checklists and more? Check out the HR Support Center, Paycor's comprehensive knowledgebase for all things HR.


_From the HR Pros of the HR Support Center

More to Discover

Case Study: Boulder Country Club

Case Study: Boulder Country Club

Paycor’s enhanced implementation service model creates a fast start for Boulder Country Club. “The transition to Paycor has been amazing. The hands-on guidance and support they offered during implementation saved us so much time. Paycor took control of the entire process so I could focus on other things.” - Amber Maranya, HR Director, Boulder Country Club Prior to Paycor Boulder Country Club is a private club that serves 850 members across northern Colorado and offers everything from golf and tennis to fitness and swimming. Their previous HR & payroll platform was designed for small businesses and couldn’t easily track hours worked for commissioned employees. After evaluating multiple well-known providers, HR Director Amber Maranya...

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19, Here’s What to Do

Everyone needs a plan to fall back on if and when an employee gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19. Below you'll find the step-by-step guide on how your company should proceed if one of your employees tests positive for Coronavirus.Get Communication Letter Template to Use if Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 6 Steps To Take If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19 Offer Support We’re all moving fast in this new world and it can feel like we’re flying blind, so this is just a reminder of what you already know: if an employee lets you know they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, take a moment to be there for them. As a leader of your company, there are of course professional limitations of what “being there” means—you won’t be able...

How to Make Tax-Free Disaster Payments To Employees

How to Make Tax-Free Disaster Payments To Employees

The pandemic is putting a big strain on everyone, maybe most of all your team, and you want to do everything you can to help.In a national emergency, employers have the freedom to offer unlimited tax-free financial assistance to employees who need it, with minimal administrative burdens. These disaster payments will be exempt from both federal income and employment taxes. What Disaster Payments Cover Disaster payment to affected employees can cover a broad range of “personal, family, living or funeral expenses (not covered by insurance)”. These may include: Unreimbursed Medical Expenses This can range from vitamins and over-the-counter medications to co-pays. Cleaning Products Disinfectant and hand-sanitizer for employee’s homes can help...

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): What You Need to Know About Payroll Protection

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): What You Need to Know About Payroll Protection

You need payroll protection. The federal government wants to help. Here’s what you need to know. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) As part of the $2 trillion aid package unveiled in the Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act, $349 billion was dedicated to the Payment Protection Program (PPP). This offers federal guaranteed loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover payroll and other essential costs.The federal government is focused on releasing funds quickly and with as little red tape as possible, giving small businesses a big boost right when they need it. And here’s the best part—if you use the funds to retain (or rehire) your employees, the loans don’t need to be repaid.View Payroll Protection...