Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Discipline: What you need to know

One of the key responsibilities for any supervisor or manager is making sure employees are performing their jobs in a satisfactory manner. When employees are doing a good job, it is important to recognize their contributions and to let them know their hard work is appreciated. However, when an employee's performance is below expectations or his or her conduct on the job is not acceptable, the supervisor or manager must act promptly to correct the situation. Acting promptly includes communicating with the employee so that he or she is aware of the problem and what must be done to correct it, as well as imposing some kind of sanction or disciplinary action. Even though this sounds simple, disciplining employees is one of the hardest things a supervisor or manager must do.
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Employee discipline is usually focused on one of the following goals:
• Rehabilitation—helping the employee improve job-related performance
• Correction—giving the employee an opportunity to correct inappropriate conduct in the workplace or violations of workplace rules (e.g., coming in late to work, swearing, excessive personal phone calls)
• Termination—removing the employee from the workplace because his or her conduct is so disruptive that it cannot be tolerated
There is no federal law that obligates employers to adopt or follow any specific disciplinary process. In the vast majority of states, the default rule is employment at will, meaning that either the employee or the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason or for no reason at all, unless a law or agreement provides ...

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