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EMPLOYMENT LAW GUIDE: - page 70 / 134

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requests and the employer’s responses is maintained which will assist in ensuring

consistency.

2.5

Approaches to Discipline

How employers handle disciplinary matters can have a significant impact on their

exposure to legal claims, as well as productivity and workplace morale. From an employer’s

perspective, employee discipline generally should be handled with three primary goals in

mind: (1) correcting substandard work performance or conduct; (2) establishing expectations

of employees; and (3) minimizing risk of employee claims. The following identifies

important considerations in handling employee discipline.

  • Employers should be careful not to promise “progressive discipline” either

in writing or orally, unless the employer is committed to following such a process.

By avoiding such promises, an employer retains the discretion to discipline in a

manner it deems fit with less risk of claims.

  • Employers should take efforts to ensure that discipline is handled

consistently. Similarly situated employees who have similar performance issues or

engaged in similar misconduct should generally be treated the same. Consistent equal

treatment is a good business practice and is likely to have a beneficial effect on

employee morale. Moreover, an employer that treats employees consistently,

regardless of protected category or for other reasons, is less likely to be sued and

substantially more likely to win a suit that is filed.

  • In maintaining an effective disciplinary process, employers should be

aware that if the disciplinary process is not documented, they will have difficulty

proving it happened. If litigation ensues, the employer and employee may dispute

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