Everything you need to know about employee discipline. Good discipline means that employees are willing to abide by company rules and executive orders and behave in the desired fashion.

Discipline implies the absence of chaos, irregularity and confusion in the behaviour of a worker. According to Calhoon, ‘Discipline is a force that prompts individuals or groups to observe rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of an organisation’.

Learn about:

1. Introduction to Employee Discipline 2. Meaning and Definition of Employee Discipline 3. Concepts of Employee Discipline 4. Nature and Characteristics 5. Objectives 6. Principles for Maintenance of Employee Discipline


7. Importance 8. Factors to Consider in Employee Discipline 9. Types of Employee Discipline 10. Causes of Indiscipline 11. Kinds of Punishment 12. Types of Disciplinary Actions for Employee Indiscipline.

Employee Discipline: Meaning, Concept, Objectives, Principles, Importance, Factors, Types and Other Details


  1. Introduction to Employee Discipline
  2. Meaning and Definition of Employee Discipline
  3. Concepts of Employee Discipline
  4. Nature and Characteristics of Employee Discipline
  5. Objectives of Employee Discipline
  6. Principles for Maintenance of Employee Discipline
  7. Importance of Employee Discipline
  8. Factors to Consider in Employee Discipline
  9. Types of Employee Discipline
  10. Causes of Indiscipline
  11. Kinds of Punishment
  12. Types of Disciplinary Actions for Employee Indiscipline

Employee Discipline – Introduction

Discipline is the backbone of healthy industrial relations. The promotion and maintenance of employee discipline is essential for smooth functioning of an organisation. Employee morale and industrial peace are definitely linked with a proper maintenance of discipline. Disciplinary action can also help the employee to become more effective. The actions of one person can affect others in the group.

The aim is to examine what discipline is, what the various aspects of employee discipline are and how positive discipline can be achieved. We shall also examine the steps involved in the disciplinary process and how to deal with indiscipline.


We all have different impressions of what is meant by the term discipline. As a child, you may have been punished by your parents for something you did wrong. You may have known better, but you did it anyway. Perhaps you thought that your act would go undetected. At other times, you may not have realised that what you did was wrong. On these occasions, disciplinary action may have taught you not to repeat those acts.

In a similar way, in the Organization ‘Discipline’ refers to the State of employee’s self-control and effectiveness in his work. It indicates the development of genuine team work. Discipline implies a state of order in an organisation. It means proper appreciation of the hierarchical superior subordinate relationship. The willing cooperation for and the observance of the rules of the organisation constitutes the essence of discipline.

We have to consider discipline in its positive meaning i.e. ‘Training of mind that develops self-control character, orderliness and efficiency’. It also means punishment. But there is a general impression that obedience to rules and punishment for their breach constitute the main aspects of discipline in an organisation. Rules and Laws are necessary for the existence of society. They are generally observed when their advantages are known and accepted.

The real sanction behind laws and rules is, therefore, the consent of the people to whom they apply and no attempt to make good people by enforcing a particular behaviour will succeed if this consent is lacking. The large part of behaviour of employee and their interaction of subordinates is governed by informal and unwritten rules and norms. These informal rules and norms that support and legitimize practice are based on convention and culture of the organisation.


Since discipline is a behaviour or a mode of life, the emphasis should be on training or educating the employees to acquire self-control and habit of obedience. Satisfactory results cannot be obtained if discipline is thought of in terms of control and punishment. Let us now distinguish the major aspects of discipline.

Employee Discipline – Meaning and Definitions

Discipline is the orderly conduct by an employee in an expected manner. It is the force or fear of a force that deters an individual or a group from doing things that are detrimental to the accomplishment of group objectives. In other words, discipline is the orderly conduct by the members of an organisation who adhere to its rules and regulations because they desire to cooperate harmoniously in forwarding the end which the group has in view.

Good discipline means that employees are willing to abide by company rules and executive orders and behave in the desired fashion. Discipline implies the absence of chaos, irregularity and confusion in the behaviour of a worker. According to Calhoon, ‘Discipline is a force that prompts individuals or groups to observe rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of an organisation’.

Violation of rules, regulations, procedure and norms is considered as misconduct, that is, any act which is inconsistent with the fulfilment of the expressed and implied conditions of service—or is directly linked with the general relationship of the employer and the employee—has a direct effect on the contentment or comfort of men at work or has a material bearing on the smooth and efficient working of the organisation concerned.

Every organisation wants its employees’ behaviour to be in conformity with the required system which it has prescribed in order to achieve the organisational goals. Thus, in brief, discipline is orderly conduct by the employee in an expected manner. The purpose of discipline is to encourage employees to behave sensibly at work, that is, adhere to rules and regulations. Disciplinary action is called for when an employee violates one of the rules.

Richard D. Calhoon- “Discipline is the force that prompts individuals or groups to observe rules, regulations, standards and procedures deemed necessary for an organization.” Discipline means systematically conducting the business by the organizational members who strictly adhere to the essential rules and regulations.

These employees/organizational members work together as a team so as to achieve organizational mission as well as vision and they truly understand that the individual and group aims and desires must be matched so as to ensure organizational success.

A disciplined employee will be organized and an organized employee will be disciplined always. Employee behaviour is the base of discipline in an organization. Discipline implies confirming with the code of conduct established by the organization. Discipline in an organization ensures productivity and efficiency. It encourages harmony and co-operation among employees as well as acts as a morale booster for the employees.

In absence of discipline, there will be chaos, confusion, corruption and disobedience in an organization. In short, discipline implies obedience, orderliness and maintenance of proper subordination among employees. Work recognition, fair and equitable treatment of employees, appropriate salary structure, effective grievance handling and job-security all contribute to organizational discipline.


Therefore discipline means securing consistent behaviour in accordance with the accepted norms of behaviour. Simply stated, discipline means orderliness. It implies the absence of chaos, irregularity and confusion in the behaviour of workers. According to Richard D Calhoun, discipline is defined as “a force that prompts individuals or groups to observe the rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of an organization.”

Employee Discipline – 2 Concepts: Positive and Negative Concepts of Employee Discipline

There are two concepts of discipline-positive concepts and negative concepts. Positive discipline means a sense of duty to observe the rules and regulations. It can be achieved when management applies the principles of positive motivation along with appropriate leadership. It is also known as cooperative disciplines or determinative discipline.

It involves creation of an atmosphere in the organisations whereby employees willingly can form to the established rules and regulations. According to Spriegel, “positive discipline does not replace reason but applies reason to the achievement of a common objective. Positive discipline does not restrict the individual, but enables him to have a greater freedom in that he enjoys a greater degree of self-expression in striving to achieve the group objective, which he identifies as his own.”

Here, Peter Senge’s idea of personal mastery, systems thinking and mental model is applicable. System thinking is concerned with a shift of mind from seeing part, to seeing the whole, from seeing people as helpless reactors to seeing them as active participants in shaping their reality, from reacting to the present to creating the future, personal mastery, entails developing the self with commitment to truth.


Mental models are our perception of the world. The positive concept of discipline assumes a creation degree of self-discipline. The concept of discipline is related to the idea of “self-actualization” at work which represents higher order need satisfaction of employees.”

On the other hand, negative discipline is known as punitive or corrective discipline. Under it penalties or punishments are used to force workers to obey rules and regulations. The objective is to ensure that employees do not violate the rules and regulations. Negative disciplinary action involves techniques such as fines, reprimand, demotion, layoff, transfer etc.

Negative discipline requires regular monitoring causing wastage of valuable time. In the negative concept of discipline, disciplinary action implies punishment Also punishment causes resentment and hostility. Satisfactory results cannot be obtained, however if discipline is perceived only in terms of control and punishment.

While exercising negative discipline, management should proceed in a sequential manner, viz. an oral reprimand, a written reprimand, a warning, temporary suspension and dismissal or discharge.

Employee Discipline – Nature and Characteristics


Nature of Discipline:

According to Megginson; discipline involves the following three things:

1. Self-discipline implies that a person brings the discipline in himself with a determination to achieve the goals that he has set for himself in life.

2. Orderly behavior refers to discipline as a condition that must exist for an orderly behaviors in the organization.

3. Punishment is used to prevent indiscipline. When a worker goes astray in his conduct, he has to be punished for the same and the recurrences of it must be prevented.



Discipline should be imposed without generating resentment. McGregor propounded the “red hot stove rule” which says that a sound and effective disciplinary system in an organization should have the following characteristics-

1. Immediate- Just as when you touch a red hot stove, the burn is immediate, similarly the penalty for violation should be immediate/ immediate disciplinary action must be taken for violation of rules.

2. Consistent- Just as a red hot stove burns everyone in same manner; likewise, there should be high consistency in a sound disciplinary system.

3. Impersonal- Just as a person is burned because he touches the red hot stove and not because of any personal feelings, likewise, impersonality should be maintained by refraining from personal or subjective feelings.

4. Prior warning and notice- Just as an individual has a warning when he moves closer to the stove that he would be burned on touching it, likewise, a sound disciplinary system should give advance warning to the employees as to the implications of not conforming to the standards of behaviour/code of conduct in an organization.

Employee Discipline – 5 Important Objectives

(a) To obtain a willing acceptance of the rules and regulations or procedures of an organisation so that organisational goals may be attained.


(b) To develop among the employee a spirit of tolerance and a desire to make adjustments.

(c) To give direction or responsibility.

(d) To increase the working efficiency or morale of the employ­ees so that their productivity is stepped up and the cost of production brought down and the quality of production im­proved.

(e) To create an atmosphere of respect for the human personality or human relations.

Discipline is essential for the smooth running of an organisation for the maintenance of industrial peace which is the foundation of industrial democracy. Without discipline, no enterprise would prosper.

The success of any rules of discipline depends on the existence of a high degree of cooperation between the employers and the employees; on faith to believe in one another’s motives; on the fulfillment of mutual obligation, on the management enlightened attitude towards its employ­ees and its over-all efficiency for the worker’s trade unions.

Employee Discipline – 7 Important Principles for Maintenance of Discipline

Disciplinary measures have serious repercussions on employees; they should therefore, be based on certain principles so that they may be fair just and acceptable to employees or their unions.


(a) As far as is possible, all the rules should be formed in cooperation or collaboration with the representatives of employees.

(b) All the rules should be appraised at frequent or regular intervals to ensure that they are and continue to be, appropri­ate, sensible and useful.

(c) Rules should be uniformly enforced if they are to be effective. They must be applied without exception.

(d) Penalties for any violation of any rule should be clearly stated in advance.

(e) Extreme caution should be exercised to ensure that infringe­ments are not encouraged.


(f) If violations of a particular rule are fairly frequent; the circumstances surrounding them should be carefully investi­gated and studied in order to discover the cause or causes of such violation.

(g) Define or precise provisions for appeal or review of all disci­plinary actions should be expressly mentioned in the employee’s handbook.

Employee Discipline – Importance of Employee Discipline from the Point of View of an Individual, a Work Group and an Organisation

Importance of discipline in organizations can hardly be overemphasized. Orderly behavior is necessary for achieving the organization’s objective. In the absence of discipline, no enterprise would prosper. If discipline is necessary even in a nuclear family or in a homogeneous unit, how can an industrial organization with heterogeneous people, work smoothly without discipline.

When an employee is at fault, the management has to take disciplinary action. Discipline is said to be good when employees follow willingly the instructions of their supervisors and the various rules of the company. Discipline is bad when employees either follow rules and regulations unwillingly or actually disobey them.

Poor discipline advises the need of correction. The fundamental reason for taking disciplinary action is to correct situations that are unfavorable to the company. Basically, discipline is a form of training. When disciplinary problem emerges, it may be as much management’s fault as the workers. Many disciplinary problems grow out of management’s failure to inform employees what is expected of them.

The term ‘discipline’ has unpleasant associations with punishment but with the addition of the “just cause” concept involving a limitation on the employer’s right to discipline and discharge. The word has been extended to embrace a system of training and education of both employee and his supervisor, designed to achieve orderly conduct.

The significance of discipline can be explained as under:

1. From the Point of View of an Individual:

(i) Discipline provides self-safety to an individual.

(ii) It enhances an individual’s progress.

(iii) An individual needs it for his own satisfaction.

2. From the Point of View of a Work Group:

(i) Discipline ensures better teamwork and cohesive.

(ii) A disciplined atmosphere is the key to the progress of the group.

(iii) Discipline ensures higher productivity.

(iv) Discipline enhances morale and motivation of employees.

3. From the Point of View of an Organization:

(i) Discipline ensures higher productivity and quality.

(ii) Discipline helps an organisation in attaining maximum profit.

(iii) It is essential better all-round benefits.

(iv) It helps in keeping a check on wastage and costs.

(v) It helps in developing a sense of belonging.

Employee Discipline – 7 Major Factors to Consider in Discipline: Seriousness of the Problem, Duration of the Problem, Nature of the Problem and a Few Others

When all the employees follow the rules and regulations of the company, the question of indiscipline does not arise. Some employees fail to accept the norms of responsible-employee behavior, thus calling for disciplinary action.

To be fair and equitable the following factors need to be analyzed:

1. Seriousness of the Problem:

The manager must assess how serious is the indiscipline. For example, sexual harassment is more serious than late coming.

2. Duration of the Problem:

It must be known for how long the problem continues or how often this happens. First time offence may be less serious than subsequent offences of longer duration.

3. Nature of the Problem:

The pattern of the problem calls for more attention. It must be known whether it is a part of emerging problem or a continual problem. Continual problem is a serious one.

4. External Influence:

Sometimes a disciplinary problem may arise which is external to the employee. For example, an employee may fail to appear for an important meeting or performance appraisal due to some accident.

5. Degree of Familiarity:

The organization with formal written rules governing the employee conduct is more justified in strictly enforcing disciplinary action taken than the organization where the rules of conduct are informal or vague.

6. Disciplinary Practices:

There must be well laid out procedure in assessing disciplinary problems. Equitable treatment must take into consideration the previous actions taken against the employees for similar type of disciplinary violations.

7. Management Support:

When the affected employee takes the issue to higher authorities, the manager must be having adequate reasons/data to defend his actions. The disciplinary action is not likely to carry weight if the violators believe that they can challenge the manager’s decisions.

Employee Discipline – 5 Major Types: Positive Discipline, Negative Discipline, Self Discipline and Control, Progressive Discipline and The Red Hot Stove Rule

Type # 1. Positive Discipline:

Positive discipline in a business is an atmosphere of mutual trust and common purpose in which all employees understand the company rules as well as the objectives and do everything possible to support them. Any disciplinary program has, as its base, that all of employees have a clear understanding of exactly what is expected of them. This is why a concise set of rules and standards must exist that is fair, clear, realistic and communicated.

Discipline takes the form of positive support and reinforcement for approved actions and its aim is to help the individual in moulding his behaviour and developing him in a corrective and supportive manner. Once the standards and rules are known by all employees, discipline can be enforced equitably and fairly.

A few guidelines for establishing a climate of positive discipline are given below:

i. There must be rules and standards, which are communicated clearly and administered fairly.

ii. Rules and standards must be reasonable and should be communicated so that they are known and understood by all employees. An employee manual can help with communicating rules.

iii. While a rule or a standard is in force, employees are expected to adhere to it.

iv. Even though rules exist, people should know that if a personal problem or a unique situation makes the rule exceptionally harsh, the rule may be modified or an exception be granted.

v. There should no favourites and privileges be granted only when they can also be granted to other employees in similar circumstances.

vi. Employees must be aware that they can and should voice dissatisfaction with any rules or standards they consider unreasonable as well as with working conditions they feel hazardous, discomforting or burdensome.

vii. Employees should understand the consequences of breaking a rule without permission.

viii. Employees should be consulted when rules are set.

ix. There should be recognition for good performance, reliability and loyalty. Negative comments, when they are necessary, will be accepted as helpful if employees also receive feedback when things go well.

Type # 2. Negative Discipline:

Generally, negative discipline is interpreted as a sort of check or restraint on the freedom of a person. Discipline is used to refer to the act of imposing penalties for wrong behaviour. If employees fail to observe rules, they are punished. The fear of punishment puts the employee back on track.

“Discipline is the force that prompts an individual or a group to observe the rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary to the attainment of an objective”.

Type # 3. Self Discipline and Control:

Behavioural scientists view discipline as self-control to meet organizational objectives. Megginson clarified the term thus- “By self-discipline we mean the training that corrects moulds and strengthens. It refers to one’s efforts at self-control for the purpose of adjusting oneself to certain needs and demands. This form of discipline is raised on two psychological principles. First, punishment seldom produces the desired results. Often, it produces undesirable results. Second, a self-respecting person tends to be a better worker than one who is not”.

Type # 4. Progressive Discipline:

The concept of progressive discipline states that penalties must be appropriate to the violation. If inappropriate behaviour is minor in nature and has not previously occurred, an oral warning may be sufficient. If the violation requires a written warning, it must be done according to a procedure. After written warnings, if the conduct of the employee is still not along desired lines, serious punitive steps could be initiated.

In case of major violations such as hitting a supervisor may justify the termination of an employee immediately. In order to assist a manager to recognize the proper level of disciplinary action, some firms have formalized the procedure.

Type # 5. The Red Hot Stove Rule:

Without the continual support of the subordinates, no manager can get things done. But, disciplinary action against a delinquent employee is painful and generates resentment on his part. Hence, a question arises as to how to impose discipline without generating resentment? This is possible through what Douglas McGregor called the “Red Hot Stove Rule”, which draws an analogy between touching a hot stove and undergoing discipline.

According to the Red Hot Stove rule, disciplinary action should have the following consequences:

(i) Burns Immediately:

If disciplinary action is to be taken, it must occur immediately so the individual will understand the reason for it. With the passage of time, people have the tendency to convince themselves that they are not at fault.

(ii) Provides Warning:

It is very important to provide advance warning that punishment will follow unacceptable behaviour. As you move closer to hot stove, you are warned by its heat that you will be burned if you touch it.

(iii) Gives Consistent Punishment:

Disciplinary action should also be consistent in that everyone who performs the same act will be punished accordingly. As with a hot stove, each person who touches it is burned the same way.

(iv) Burns Impersonally:

Disciplinary action should be impersonal. There are no favourites when this approach is followed.

Employee Discipline – Causes of Indiscipline: Organizational, Individual and Environmental Factors

The important causes of indiscipline are analyzed under three heads:

1. Organizational Factors

2. Individual Factors

3. Environmental Factors.

1. Organizational Factors:

i. Where the organization, while hiring the employees, fail to assess the traits of individuals like attitude, obedience, tolerance and inquisitiveness, it may end up hiring employees who challenge any decision made by the management. This may breed indiscipline.

ii. Lack of code of conduct for employees has potential to disorient them thereby sowing seeds of indiscipline.

iii. Where an employee hired for a job for which he has neither aptitude nor attitude, he is sure to develop ill-feelings. He may find the job uninteresting and do everything to evade responsibility.

iv. Ineffective leadership characterised by authoritarianism and incompetency, and distrustful relations with employees fuel indiscipline among the employees.

v. Indiscriminate use of penal provisions triggers reactionary group indiscipline.

vi. Favouritism and nepotism practiced by supervisors vitiate discipline.

vii. Divisive policies pursued by management and instituting unofficial spy network spoils the work atmosphere thereby engendering indiscipline.

viii. Biased performance evaluation on considerations of caste, creed, colour, gender, religion and region promotes ill-feeling and a sense of injustice among employees which culminate in indiscipline.

ix. Absence of grievance redressal mechanism frustrates employees thereby breeding indiscipline among them.

2. Individual Factors:

Individual differences caused by education, experience, values, attitudes, beliefs, intelligence, personality, etc., cause employees to behave differently in an organization. Therefore some individuals conform to rules and standards of behaviour in much wider context than others.

Individual features that lead to indiscipline behaviour are as follows:

i. Individuals with non-conformist values tend to engage in indisciplined behaviour.

ii. Every individual perceives reward and punishment differently and react to it accordingly. When the reward is not commensurate with his expectation, he may feel frustrated and indulge in indiscipline.

iii. Individuals differ in work ethics. Those with high ethical values tend to be committed and involved in the jobs while those with low ethical values show alienation to their jobs and exhibit negative behaviour.

3. Environmental Factors:

Since an organization is also one of the members of the society, discipline observed by the society manifests in organizations. Indiscipline prevailing in family, educational institutions, political system, religious institutions, break down of social control mechanism, etc., casts its ugly shadow on the organizational climate.

Employee Discipline – 2 Kinds of Punishment: Minor and Major Punishment

I. Minor Punishment:

1. Oral Reprimand – When a superior officer verbally warns the employee committing the offence, he expresses that he does not approve of his behaviour. For example, employee sleeping during working hours or found smoking in the workplace.

2. Written Reprimand – Manager writes up the warnings and mails it to the employee concerned. The employee is called for explanation. A copy of his reply is sent to HR Department.

3. Punitive Suspension – It is awarded for minor offenses. It may extend for a few days. Employee gets subsistence allowance during the suspension period.

4. Loss of Privilege – Some of the privileges like assigning interesting work, shift preferences, leave, flexi hours, choice of machine etc., may be withdrawn for a given period.

5. Fine – A deduction may be made from the pay for certain offences like damage to the goods, machines and property of the company or for loss of money he has to account for.

6. Transfer – An employee may be transferred to a far off place or to a different department for the offence committed. It is usually awarded by companies or institutions operating with a network of branches. Government institutions practise this type of punishment.

II. Major Punishment:

1. Pay cut – Cutting employee’s pay for offences relating to damage or loss of property. The loss is recovered from the pay of the employee.

2. Demotion – When the employee proves himself to be unfit for the present job he is holding, he is downgraded to a lower job carrying lower pay and responsibilities. It has a serious implication on the employee’s morale and motivation.

3. Suspension pending enquiry – It is awarded for serious offence. His regular wages are withheld during the period. The punitive suspension may extend for a longer period say several months till the enquiry is completed. Employee gets subsistence allowance during the suspension period.

4. Discharge – It is awarded for the gravest offence involving integrity, moral turpitude, etc. There is a stigma attached to the dismissal and he may find it difficult to get employment elsewhere.

Employee Discipline – 4 General Types of Disciplinary Actions Available when Employees Fail to Meet Expected Levels of Performance

The purpose of discipline is to assist employees in changing their performance, attendance, or behaviour. This requires that the employees have adequate information about their current performance, attendance, or behaviour versus the desired performance, attendance, or behaviour.

When disciplining or terminating an employee, a manager can decrease his/her legal risk if he/she can show that the erring employee had been previously warned and/or counseled without any improvement in behaviour or performance, making clear to the employee what he/she was doing wrong and what was being required to do in order to meet the company’s expectations were not done.

This is a good employment practice, and the legal system will generally give great weight to such evidence when an employee claims that he/she was improperly discharged.

There are four general types of disciplinary actions available when employees fail to meet expected levels of performance or conduct:

1. Verbal Counseling:

This is generally the first step of the disciplinary actions taken against an erring employee. An employee might receive several verbal warnings before progressing to the next step of the disciplinary procedure. However, for a serious problem, managers might skip this step. Verbal warnings should always be done calmly, objectively and privately.

It is a good idea to have a second manager or officer present during the verbal counseling as a witness. Verbal counseling sessions should be documented by a formal memo or informal note in the employee’s personnel file.

2. Written Warning:

This step is generally preceded by a verbal warning. The manager or supervisor should meet with the employee and his representative (if applicable) as in a verbal counseling session, but the employee should be given and allowed to review a formal written warning. As with verbal counseling, a second manager can be present as a witness.

The written warning should have a place for the employee to sign, acknowledging that he or she has received the warning, regardless of whether he or she agrees with the contents of the warning. If the employee refuses to sign, another manager or supervisor should be called as a witness to observe that the employee has been presented with the warning and refused to sign it, and that witness should sign the warning.

An adequate written warning should include, at a minimum, the following elements:

1. The date of the warning

2. The employee’s name

3. The name of the manager or supervisor administering the warning

4. A statement depicting the details of the misconduct or inadequate performance of the employee

5. The date of the misconduct or poor performance (if appropriate)

6. A signature line for the manager or supervisor

7. A signature line for the employee

8. A signature line for a witness, if the employee refuses to sign

9. A formal “action plan,” depending upon the nature and severity of the offense.

A formal disciplinary action plan may include the following additional elements, namely:

i. A statement of the policy, rule, or practice that was violated.

ii. The steps which the employee agrees to follow in order to correct the problem or meet the desired level of performance, attendance, or behaviour.

iii. Any commitments of assistance or support that the manager or supervisor has made.

iv. The time frame to be followed in achieving the goal of improved performance, attendance, or behaviour.

v. The consequences that will occur if the performance, attendance, or behaviour is not improved within the specified time frame.

3. Suspension:

This may range from one day to two weeks or more, depending upon the circumstances, and is almost always unpaid. In unusual circumstances, some employers will place employees on one day of paid “decision-making” leave, as a way of encouraging the employee to think about the future of his employment.

Paid suspensions, however, can be perceived as a “reward” for poor behaviour, and may therefore have an adverse effect. For this reason, most employers prefer unpaid suspensions.

Some employers will progress immediately from the first suspension to termination for the next offense, while others will attempt to correct the employee’s performance or behaviour with multiple suspensions of increasing length (e.g., 1-day, 3-day, 5-day, 10-day, etc.). As a general rule, each suspension should be longer than the last, with termination as the final result.

4. Termination:

Before terminating an employee, a manager should review the personnel file and all relevant documents in order to determine if the termination is appropriate — and defensible in a subsequent lawsuit — given the facts and circumstances. In addition, he should also ensure that similarly situated employees have been treated similarly in the past. Some behaviour warrants automatic dismissal.

These include those of:

i. Violent behaviour or threats of violence

ii. Drug and alcohol use on duty

iii. Carrying a weapon on company property

iv. Disregarding safety rules and regulations

v. Theft, destruction of company property, or falsifying documents

vi. Insubordination

vii. Abandonment of job (no call, no show for three consecutive days).

Other Forms of Discipline:

In addition to the steps outlined above, it is worthwhile to explore other forms of discipline, such as demotion, transfer, and reduced raises or bonuses. Many employees can be very satisfactorily managed by economic concerns, such as bonuses and raises.