How a Progressive Discipline Policy Impacts Unemployment Cost Management

Progressive Discipline Policy

Having a progressive discipline policy in place (and following it consistently) has a significant impact on your success rate in protesting unemployment claims. A progressive discipline procedure or policy outlines exactly how unacceptable performance or conduct is addressed – all the way up to the point of termination.

We know every state has a set of laws governing the administration of unemployment, but there are general concepts that serve as best practices for managing unemployment costs.

Examples of Progressive Disciple Procedures:

  • Three strike policy
  • Point system
  • Progressive Corrective Action Process

Questions asked by the state when someone files for unemployment after being terminated:

  • Was the employee aware that their performance or conduct was unacceptable?
  • How were they made aware?
  • Were they given clear warning(s) that failure to correct the issue could result in termination?
  • Were they given adequate opportunity to correct the issue?

Helpful guidelines regarding progressive discipline policies and procedures:

  • Include your progressive discipline policy or procedure in your employee handbook.
  • Make sure to have employees acknowledge by signature that they have read and understand it.
  • Each time a warning is issued, clearly state the next step in the progressive discipline procedure should improvement not occur.
  • If a policy was violated, make specific reference to that policy (contained in the employee handbook) in the warning.
  • Outline what the expectations for improvement are.
  • Have employees sign warnings in acknowledgement showing that they are aware of what the next step will be, up to and including termination.
  • Maintain organized chronological records of all warnings.

An employer’s progressive discipline procedure should outline why (and in what format) an employee would be issued a warning for performance or conduct issues. In addition, the procedure should make clear the maximum number of warnings that are permissible before further action, including termination, will take place.

It is also important that employees are made aware of the progressive discipline procedure at the time of hire and again at the time any warnings are issued. The employee should always have a clear understanding of where they stand within the steps of the progressive discipline procedure and what the next step will be if they fail to improve. If the state determines that the employee was not aware that termination could occur because of their performance or conduct, or that they were not given adequate opportunity to improve, it becomes much less likely that they will rule in favor of the employer.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your assigned DecisionHR Human Resources Business Partner at 1-888-828-5511 .