We are talking about creating an effective discipline program that is beneficial to both an employer and employee. A well-designed discipline program helps employees correct any shortcomings with the goal of becoming a valuable, contributing member of the workforce. Documentation created as a result of the discipline process can also help protect an employer in the event that a termination or other adverse employment decision becomes necessary.


Employees must have fair and reasonable notice of what is expected of them. They need to know the parameters of permissible and prohibited conduct in the workplace.

Workplace Rules Should Be:

  • Clearly communicated to all employees in writing
  • Compliant with state and federal laws
  • Consistently and fairly enforced

There are as many variables in workplace rules of conduct as there are employers. However, rules generally fall into one of four categories:

A Workplace Code of Conduct Should Include:

  • Rules governing routine matters (attendance, tardiness, dress, etc.)
  • Rules related to company culture (e.g., cell phone policies)
  • Rules governing serious conduct (drug or alcohol abuse, harassment, etc.)
  • Rules regarding conduct that may lead to immediate suspension and/or discharge


Discipline should be consistent and fair to avoid claims of discrimination.

Fair Disciplining Guidelines:

  • Thoroughly investigate the circumstances
  • Provide notice of misconduct to employee
  • Allow employee to respond to allegation
  • Make the “punishment fit the crime”
  • Allow employee some right to appeal the decision to a person above the rank of the issuer
  • Keep a careful paper trail for documentation

To learn more about HR and benefits management, including progressive discipline, visit us online at HR360.com. Steps to Successful Employee Communication [Video Blog]

Topics: Employee Disciplining

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