Rules of employee discipline

Written by linda covella
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Rules of employee discipline
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If you’re a manager or business owner, it’s important to follow certain rules of employee discipline. Proper employee discipline will address an employee’s poor job performance or habits and possibly improve the problem. Following the correct disciplinary procedures will also protect your company from a possible lawsuit should you have to fire the employee.

Verbal Warning

The first rule of employee discipline is to give a verbal warning should some infraction occur. Perhaps your employee missed a deadline due to laziness, was rude to a customer or is consistently late. You should bring the employee to your office or some other private area and tell him about the infraction and what your expectations are. Make sure he understands what he’s done wrong and what you expect from him in the future. Inform him that this is his first warning and that the next infraction will result in a formal written warning. Although this is a verbal warning, you should create a dated report about the discussion so you have a record in case the employee continues to be a discipline problem.

Written Warning

If the employee repeats the infraction or performs some other action that violates the company rules, you should give her a written warning. This should include a clear explanation of the violation. You can also add information about the previous verbal warning. The written warning should state what the employee needs to do to improve her conduct. Make sure she reads and understands the document, and then have her sign and date it. You and/or your manager should also sign and date the warning.

Final Written Warning

When your employee continues to disobey company policy, you should issue a final written warning. You basically repeat the same process as the first written warning. But the document should say this is the employee’s final warning, and if he continues the infractions, it will be grounds for firing. Again, have the employee sign and date the report to show he understands the warning, and you and/or your manager should also sign and date it.


After repeated warnings, if your employee’s conduct is still violating company policy or rules, you may need to fire her. Since you’ve followed a procedure of escalated warnings and properly documented them, you’ll have sufficient justification. Should she sue for wrongful termination, a judge or jury will consider the warnings you gave due process.

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