Understanding Employee Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action responds to employee behavior that does not follow company rules and policies. Harsh yet essential steps must be taken when employees violate them.
Before taking any disciplinary action against an employee, it is important to weigh whether or not the consequence reasonably fits the offense. In addition, remember that once you have made your decision, you cannot go back on it.
The fundamental purpose of disciplinary action is to end inappropriate or unacceptable conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, if any.

What is Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action against employees uses progressive discipline to help employees improve their performance by correcting behavioral, attendance, and job performance issues.
The disciplinary process allows supervisors to explain what they need to do and then make changes. If employees cannot or refuse to make changes, supervisors may escalate the matter through progressive discipline and possible termination.

Types of Disciplinary Action

Employee disciplinary action is any action the employer takes against an employee for failure to conform to the rules of conduct. In most cases, the employer will issue a warning letter first. If the employee does not improve their work performance or behavior afterward, further disciplinary actions will be taken.
The most common types of disciplinary action that employers use are the following:

Verbal warning

The employee is called into their supervisor’s office and told that they have failed to meet a particular standard. The employer may cite specific examples of this failure and explain how this behavior goes against company policy. A verbal warning also reminds what the company expects from employees and how these expectations should be met.

Written Warning

This is a more serious disciplinary action than a verbal warning because it is documented and placed in the employee’s file. A written notice usually follows after a verbal warning has been issued to an employee who fails to improve their performance in the workplace. It can also be used as proof that an employee was aware of their shortcomings and could not address them adequately.

Fears, Careers, Robot Peers: PyjamaHR Support Pros Talk AI

Join us for an authentic conversation with members of Help Scout’s own customer service team as they discuss the ways AI is changing their jobs, how they really feel about it, and how they’re taking charge of their own career direction.

Performance Evaluation

This is where you tell the employee what he did wrong and why it was wrong, based on your company policies. It would be beneficial to discuss the possible consequences of further infractions.
Employees may be subject to disciplinary action when their performance or conduct warrants it. A performance evaluation must be conducted before taking employee disciplinary action against an employee.


Disciplinary action for employee misconduct can be implemented for either minor or significant misconduct. While minor misconduct is often overlooked, major misconduct will most likely result in the termination of employment.
Major misconduct like gross negligence, theft, assault, and sexual harassment are serious offenses and are the most common causes of termination of employment.

When does Disciplinary Action get Implemented

An employer’s responsibility is to ensure that your employees are properly trained. Disciplinary action aims to correct unacceptable or inappropriate behavior, not punish the employee.
For employee disciplinary action to be effective, it’s vital that both parties understand why this action is being taken and what the outcome will be if things don’t improve.
If an employee consistently arrives late for work, violating safety policies or rules governing workplace conduct, he may be subject to progressive discipline.
Below listed are some cases where disciplinary action against employees can be implemented to improve the workplace environment.

Poor Performance

Maintaining the standards of performance and conduct that employees are expected to meet is a critical aspect of managing a company. Employees are considered the backbone of every business, and their performance determines whether a business succeeds or fails.

A disciplinary action is a tool used to improve employee performance. It may be implemented against an employee who is not performing as per the standards set by the company.


Conflict in the workplace can cause many problems for employees and employers alike. When conflict occurs in the workplace, it can affect employee morale, job performance, and turnover rates. This can lead to massive losses for the company; however, conflict can be resolved through mediation or arbitration when it is appropriately handled.

Breach of Company Policies

Employees have a legal obligation to follow the terms and conditions of their employment contract, including any company rules contained in the staff handbook or elsewhere.
Policies should be clear, concise, and specific enough to allow you to deal with a range of situations that might arise in your business. If an employee fails to comply with company policies, disciplinary action may be issued against him.

Recommended Posts

Unlawful Acts

Unlawful acts, such as theft, violence, harassment, discrimination, or unsafe working conditions, are often the cause of disciplinary actions for employees. The consequences of disciplinary actions can be severe and may include suspension from work or even dismissal from employment.

Regulation of Employment Terms & Conditions to Increase Employee Awareness

An employer must guard against potential risks to employees’ physical and mental health and safety, from bullying and harassment in the workplace, through carrying out risk assessments for more general matters, such as ensuring that employees follow health and safety rules. Therefore, employers have a responsibility to ensure that staff understands the employment contract meaning and what constitutes behavior that could lead to disciplinary action. This will help employers provide their team with adequate health and safety protection at work and reduce their risk of the subsequent costs associated with contracts of employment litigation.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the purpose of disciplinary action?

The purpose of disciplinary action is to correct, not punish, work-related behavior.

What are the types of disciplinary action?

There are four types of disciplinary action: verbal warning; written reprimand, performance evaluation; and termination.

Like what you see? Share with a friend.