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Things to Understand About Employee Disciplinary Action

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One of the most crucial aspects of HR's job is to ensure employee discipline in the office. It includes everything from an employee's work performance to individual behavior at the workplace. At times, maintaining this discipline can be quite troubling for some workers.

In some cases, workers may be short-tempered, irresponsible, and uncooperative, making life hard for an entire workforce. Thus, managers must come up with suitable measures to handle the situation. Such measures are called employee disciplinary action.

As far as the workforce is concerned, disciplinary actions in the workplace are the management's ultimatum. It means the individuals in question must change their ways or face harsh implications for the same. Because of this nature, disciplinary actions are often adequate to correct employee attitude.

In most scenarios, when the verbal warnings fail, an employee disciplinary action is the last resort. But, while this action plan may work, it is also a sensitive subject for the workforce. It can affect job satisfaction, employee loyalty, and employee motivation levels.

Therefore, one must be careful with this concept of disciplinary action. To help you understand this better, here are a few things to understand about Employee Disciplinary Action.

Situations Where Employee Disciplinary Action Is Necessary

1. Poor Performance

Sometimes workers can fall into constant low-performance issues. While a few of these times is acceptable, a frequent drop is not tolerable. Please note; first, you must cater to employee training and development to solve this issue.

You can develop a plan to correct the performance problems and hand it over to the worker. After this, you must monitor the issue for some time. But, if this fails and the employee shows no sign of commitment to solve this, then it is time for disciplinary action.

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2. Constant Source of Conflict

A work environment must be a harmonious one wherein everyone gets along. But, sometimes conflicts may occur and render a sour atmosphere. While this is natural from time to time, you must be cautious that it doesn't become a regular affair.

Some employees may not get along well and tend to have troublesome behavior. If you encounter such constant situations, then you must take the necessary action.

3. Breach of Company Policies

Company policy rules violation is one of the most significant offenses that an employee can commit. Here, you must not spare any excuse. Any leniency in this matter can portray a sign of organizational weakness to the entire workforce.

In such a scenario, disciplinary actions are a must.

A breach of company policy is a huge matter. While deciding on an action plan here, make sure that everyone involved knows about the system. Also, make sure your entire workforce is evident on the company policies as a whole.

4. Unlawful Acts

Unlawful acts such as thieving, bribing, and leaking information in the workplace are also justifiable causes for strict actions. Here, disciplinary actions show that the management will not tolerate such deeds in the office.

5. Breach of Employment Contract

While entering into employment, an employee automatically agrees to a work contract. This contract has certain do's and don'ts that workers must obey. A violation of such an agreement is another justifiable reason for strict actions as well.

These were some situations where employee disciplinary actions are necessary. If you find yourself in such a case, here are a few pointers on handling the situation.

How to Handle Employee Disciplinary Action with Employees

1. Meeting

First of all, you must meet with the worker for a formal meeting to discuss the problem. Here, the person needs to know the charges against him/her. It is important here not to point fingers at who complained against him/her.

This first meeting must discuss the issue and determine the necessary steps to correct the problem. As managers, you must give the employee in question suggestions as to how to correct the situation. Once all of this is over, you can end the first meeting.

2. Verbal Warning

If, after the first meeting, you can still see a sense of indifference in the individual, then you must start with a verbal warning. Make another meeting and remind the employee of the previous corrective action plan, and the areas failed yet again.

You can regard this meeting as the first warning to the employee.

3. Written Warning

Once a verbal warning is already administered and still, you see no signs of improvement, then comes the turn of a written notice. This is the final warning. You must outline the charge and give a formal mail or letter as a final warning against the employee.

4. Disciplinary Action

If all of these steps fail, then you must decide on an employee disciplinary action for the individual in question. In this step, you should initiate a formal write-up of the whole process. It includes the charge and lack of cooperation to correct the issue by the employee.

After this, you can decide on disciplinary actions and levy them on the employee.

This was the step-by-step process you must follow while concluding an action.

Types of Employee Disciplinary Action

After going through the above process comes the job of deciding on an action. Here, there are different employee disciplinary actions you can choose.

Some of these are:

  • Suspended Without Pay
  • Temporary Paycut
  • Termination
  • Employee Demotion
  • Relocation
  • Loss of Privileges

These were a few things you should know about employee disciplinary actions before opting for the same.

Before investigating an employee for misconduct due to a complaint from another worker, always test facts first. You must be sure that the individual held accountable is guilty of the act.


Disciplinary actions are like punishments, and we all know it is never pleasant. But in some cases, it becomes necessary. In some cases, it might make you feel bad since most of you would know your workforce well, but it is vital for discipline in the workplace.

So, since it may be necessary sometime in the future, it will only benefit you to know more about it. For better knowledge, we hope this piece helped you a bit here.

This article is written by Jyoti Prakash Barman. He is an in-house Content Marketer at Vantage Circle with interests in music and automobiles. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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