How many write-ups before termination?
- On 11 April 2022
- Posted by Chantal Mariotti
Many of our clients have asked us this question. How many times must I write someone up before terminating their employment?
Well, it depends! There are some offenses that may warrant immediate termination of employment without any write-ups; other unacceptable behaviors may warrant write-ups, or what I prefer to call them, are coaching and counseling sessions that are documented.
Your Employee Handbook
It is not a law to have an employee handbook. However, it is most definitely an HR best practice. Your employee handbook, which every employee should have, and should have signed an acknowledgement of receipt for, should have included your policy on “progressive discipline”, and those offenses that result in immediate termination.
Here are some examples of offenses that may warrant immediate termination, without having to coach or counsel the employee:
- Fighting on the job
- Threatening someone
- Falsification of time records (which is considered theft of time)
- Proven harassment or discrimination
- Sleeping on the job
- Coercion, intimidation or threats
- Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Possession of a firearm at the workplace
- Any other seriously unacceptable behaviors as outlined in your employee handbook
Here are some examples of offenses that may warrant “progressive discipline”, or multiple coaching & counseling sessions:
- Failing to perform work or job assignments satisfactorily and efficiently
- Excessive absenteeism or tardiness
- Loitering on the job
- Unauthorized absence from assigned work area
- Interfering with the work performance of others
- Breach of safety policy
So how many times should an employee be coached & counseled for these poor behaviors listed above?
How ever many times you coach an employee, the key is to make sure you consistently and equally apply the discipline to all employees alike. You don’t want to be accused of discriminating against any employee, because you treated him/her differently from others.
Here is an example of how many times you can coach an employee under the “progressive discipline” umbrella:
1st offense: Verbal Warning (always make note and document your conversation)
2nd offense: Written Warning (documented) – Provide the employee with a copy
3rd offense: Final Written Warning (documented) – Provide the employee with a copy
4th offense: Termination
A termination should NEVER be a surprise. The employee should know that if he/she has been disciplined with progressive discipline – if they do it again, it will be grounds for termination.
You want to make sure that you have “all of your ducks in a row” prior to terminating an employee – that you have given them plenty of opportunity to improve and change their behavior. If they don’t, it’s not your fault. It is the employees’ fault. They’ve disregarded your coaching and chose to continue the unacceptable behavior. It is then time to terminate their employment.
Remember: If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen! So… make sure to document the conversations you have with your employees, indicating the date, the time and the topic of the conversation. Indicate what they must do to improve and what your expectations are. Make sure to follow up with them on a regular basis to communicate and evaluate their improvement.
Need an HR Consultant to help you manage difficult employees? Click here to select the best HR Advisor for your needs: https://executivehrconsulting.com/hr-consultants
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