Employee discipline and privacy

The purpose of discipline is to encourage employees to behave sensibly at work (where sensible means adhering to rules and regulations). Discipline is called for when an employee violates one of the rules.

Basics of fair and just disciplinary Process

The employer wants its discipline process to be both effective (in terms of discouraging unwanted behavior) and firm. Such a process is based on three pillars: clear rules and regulations a system of progressive penalties and an appeals process.

Rules and Regulations

First, rules and regulations address issues such as theft destruction of company property drinking on the job, and insubordination. Examples include:

1) Poor performance is not acceptable. Each employee is expected to perform his or her work properly and efficiently and to meet established standards of quality.
2) Alcohol and drugs do not mix with work. The use of either during working hours and reporting for work under the influence of either are both prohibited.
3) The vending of anything in the plant without authorization us not allowed nor is gambling in any form permitted.

Rules inform employees ahead of time what is and is not acceptable behavior. Upon hiring tell employees preferably in writing what is not permitted. The employer hand book usually contains the rules and regulations.

Progressive Penalties

A system of progressive penalties is a second pillar of effective discipline. Penalties typically range from oral warnings to written warnings to suspension from the job to discharge.

The severity of the penalty is usually a function of the type of offense and the number of times the offense has occurred. For example most companies issue warnings for the first unexcused lateness. For a fourth offense discharge is the usual disciplinary action.

When you’re on your own feature provides specific guidance for the front line supervisor.

When disciplinary decisions reach arbitration clarity and fairness loom large. One study surveyed 45 published arbitration awards in which tardiness had triggered discipline and/or discharge. When arbitrators overturned employers’ decision it was usually because the employer had failed to clarity what it meant by tardy or because there was a lack of clarity regarding how often an employees may be late over a given period or because of an inappropriately severe penalty

Overly severe disciplinary procedures can backfire in other ways. For example an unfair disciplinary procedure (such as one with harsh supervisory behaviors) can trigger retaliatory employee mischief and thus actually encourage misbehavior. Particularly in light of the top executives ethics problems in the headlines recently, it’s also important for the company to send the right signals by also disciplining executives who misbehave. The New Workforce feature addresses gender disciplinary issues.

Formal disciplinary appeals processes

In addition to rules and progressive penalties, the disciplinary process requires an appeals procedure:

Virtually all union agreements contain disciplinary appeal procedures but such procedures are not limited to unionized firms. For example, FedEx alls its appeal procedure guaranteed fair treatment:

In step 1 management review the complainant submits a written complaint to a member of management (manager, senior manager or managing director) within seven calendar days of the occurrence of the eligible issue.

If not satisfied with that decision the in step 2, officer complaint the complainant submits a written appeal to the vice president or senior vice president of the division within seven calendar days of the step 1 decision.

Finally step 3 executive appeals review the complainant may submit a written complaint within seven calendar days of the step 2 decision to the employee relations department. This department investigates and prepares a case file for the executive review appeals board. The appeals board – the CEO, the COO, the chief personnel officer, and three senior vice presidents – then review al relevant information and makes a decision to uphold , overturn or initiate a board of review or to take other appropriate action. Some companies establish independent ombudsman neutral counselors outside the normal chain of command to whom employees who believe they were treated unfairly can turn for confidential advice.