The purpose of a Progressive Disciplinary Action form, often called a “write-up” by employees, is to document that an employee recently exhibited unacceptable conduct, poor attendance, poor work performance, or another violation of the company’s policies. There are many situations that could lead to filing a disciplinary action, and it is generally handled with a meeting between the filing supervisor and the employee in question. This gives the supervisor an opportunity to clearly and professionally explain to the employee exactly which actions, or inaction’s, caused this situation to occur and why and how to avoid a second instance.
In most cases, the filing of a Progressive Disciplinary Form will not result in the immediate dismissal of the offending employee, but it can be the first real indication that their job may be in trouble unless they correct their behavior. Any further infractions could result in penalties or the termination of their employee status and thus, the loss of their income from that employer.
Who Can Receive Disciplinary Action?
Absolutely anyone within a company can be on the receiving end of a Progressive Disciplinary Action form, exempting those in the highest positions. Even C-level leaders have their own system of checks and balances in place to protect the company and its employees from their misconduct.
An example of any employee being subject to progressive discipline would be if a manager, perhaps of a retail establishment, were to have a verbal confrontation with employees or customers during multiple instances. The first or even second occurrence could result in a verbal warning from the general manager, but persistent repetitions of these actions would result in the filing of a Progressive Disciplinary Action form. This is a company’s way of documenting violations of its policies and guidelines, and it also provides protection to the company in the event of an unemployment or other legal case.
Situations that Call for Disciplinary Action
The Progressive Disciplinary Action Form can be utilized in a number of situations, such as unacceptable conduct. If you and another coworker disagree about a situation at work, you could find yourself in trouble if the two of you have a severe confrontation about it in front of clients or even just in front of other coworkers. In this case, it would not only be a disruption of work, but it could damage a company’s reputation and client base.
Unsatisfactory attendance is a huge problem for many companies, especially those in the retail and food service industries. If you are late to work on multiple instances, call in too often, or fail to show up at all, you are subject to this type of disciplinary action. If you were to miss work without a reason, also called a “no-call, no-show,” depending on the state in which you work, your employer may have the right to terminate your position there without further reason.
It is your responsibility as an employee to perform any tasks given to you to the best of your abilities and within the policies of your employer. If you cannot perform the basic responsibilities of your position, especially if you consistently fall short of the company standard, you could find yourself receiving one of these forms. Other situations, such as breaking company safety rules, will likely result in disciplinary action.
How Many Can I Receive Before Termination?
In many cases, a company will initiate a “three strikes” rule, in which you are given a verbal warning, written warning, and then a final warning. If you violate company policy after the final warning, you are subject to termination at the discretion of your employer, and you can consider these write-ups fair warning. The purpose of a progressive discipline process is to make it clear that you are not only falling short of the mark (with specific examples, as well as solutions), but that you are on your way to more serious action unless you correct your work quality or behavior.
Since an employee may receive multiple verbal or written warnings before being terminated, it is not uncommon for employees to spend years at a company with one or even two of these on their record. Although this can get in the way of promotions and other opportunities in the immediate future, your position with the company is not necessarily in jeopardy so long as you take the disciplinary action to heart and correct your mistakes. Often, these write-ups occur after a very specific and unique situation that is unlikely to be repeated, such as an altercation with a customer.
How to Avoid Disciplinary Actions
The best way to ensure you never receive a progressive disciplinary action form is to do your very best as an employee, behave professionally and safely, and to perform all of your duties according to company policy. Regardless of your position, special circumstances beyond your control may occur, but it is imperative that you act within the guidelines of the company without exception. Even in unexpected circumstances, doing so will ensure your position isn’t threatened, and it will make employers more likely to select you for promotions and other opportunities within the company.
It is imperative that you have an employee handbook with updated policies in place, and communicate those policies clearly and consistently to employees. When company policy or safety rules are breached, be sure to document and discipline according to your policy, and be consistent. Even verbal warnings should be documented, so that you never find yourself losing an unemployment case to a former employee whom you had every right and reason to terminate. The more thoroughly you document such instances of disciplinary action, the more likely you are to be protected in and out of court.