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7 tips for documenting employee discipline

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,People Management,Records Retention

You need to be careful when writing up employees for disciplinary reasons. That's because how you document the problem can cause problems if an employee files a lawsuit. To protect yourself and the organization, follow these guidelines when documenting employee discipline:

1. Be consistent. Don't write up one person for a behavior that you ignore in other employees. When in doubt, check to see how similar problems have been documented in the past.

2. Be specific. Example of poor documentation: "Employee was late three times in the past month." Better: "Employee was 30 minutes late on Feb. 5; reason given: traffic. Employee was 45 minutes late on Feb. 9; reason given: overslept. Employee was an hour late on Feb. 23; reason given: car problems."

3. Write in a clear, factual manner. Note the policy or procedure that the employee has violated. Date the document, including the year.

4. Avoid emotional content, including personal impressions ("I think ..."), labels ("He's a whiner ..."), adjectives ("very unproductive ...") and drawing conclusions about the reasons for the employee's behavior. ("It's probably because of her divorce.")

5. State the consequences if the behavior continues. Example: "If the employee is tardy again this month, he will be fired."

6. Ask the employee to sign and date the document if it's going into his or her personnel file. If the employee refuses to sign, note that on the document.

7. Give employees an opportunity to respond in writing and include the response in their files.

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