Utah Discipline laws & HR compliance analysis

Utah Discipline: What you need to know

Progressive discipline is a disciplinary model in which the severity of the discipline increases each time an employee commits an infraction. Generally, the progressive discipline scale starts with an oral reprimand, followed by a written warning, suspension and, finally, termination. Progressive discipline procedures are most often found in collective bargaining agreements and in the public employment arena, but they are also common in the private sector.
There are two potential issues with having a progressive discipline procedure in an at-will relationship. First, it can be time-consuming to administer the steps and generate the supporting paperwork. Second, a progressive discipline procedure can, under certain circumstances, change an at-will employment relationship to a contractual one.
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If a disciplinary procedure is promised. Despite a strong presumption in favor of the at-will standard of employment, the Utah Supreme Court has held that an employer's clear and unequivocal "promise" concerning the duration or terms of the employment relationship may result in an implied contract of employment. Therefore, although a stray, casual, or general remark regarding job security will rarely, if ever, result in the formation of a contract of employment, employers are best advised to train managers to avoid making any such statements.
Employee handbooks. Utah courts have also held that implied contracts may arise from a variety of sources, including personnel policies or provisions of an employment manual (Cabaness v. Thomas, 232 P.3d 486 (Utah 2010)).
More specifically, the Utah courts have held that definite statements and/or policies contained in an employee handbook may create a contract ...

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