Progressive Discipline Process

Category: Human Resources
Subject: Progressive Discipline Process
Division: Administrative Services
Policy Number: CA.52.01.142
Effective Date: March 1, 2017

Policy

POLICY STATEMENT:  

Positive performance and behaviour within the workplace contributes to creating a productive and harmonious environment in which Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) employees can achieve their full potential.

Employees are expected to perform their work and conduct themselves in a manner that supports them in fulfilling their responsibilities and contributes to creating a safe and positive work environment. Employees are expected to comply with the Agency’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Inappropriate/unacceptable behaviour can have serious consequences for job satisfaction, productivity, physical and psychological well-being of employees.

WDGPH will address performance/behaviour concerns in a professional, timely, consistent, equitable and progressive manner.

Performance and Behaviour:

Performance and/or behaviour that are inappropriate may have a negative effect on co-workers, clients, partners and others.  Reports or observations of unacceptable performance and/or behaviour will be handled in a confidential manner. 

WDGPH will: 

  • work with employees to promote high quality performance, and a positive safe work environment;
  • ensure employees understand performance and behaviour expectations from date of hire and through ongoing communication and performance reviews;
  • set reasonable performance expectations and standards;
  • provide constructive timely feedback which identifies performance or behaviour issues;
  • provide additional information and training as identified to help employees improve their performance and/or behaviour;
  • provide a clear disciplinary process for unsuitable performance or behaviour; and
  • investigate performance or behaviour issues thoroughly and take appropriate action.
  • Serious offenses may result in immediate suspension or termination for the first offense. Progressive discipline also means that after repeated offenses, regardless of whether the offenses are similar or not, WDGPH has the right to terminate any employee who, by their total behaviour, fails to demonstrate insight into actions and take responsibility to remediate performance behaviour.  Employees represented by a Collective Agreement have access to the complaint, grievance, mediation and arbitration process.

SCOPE

This policy applies to all WDGPH employees, students and volunteers and in the performance of their duties.

DEFINITIONS:

Progressive Discipline is a system of discipline where the penalties increase upon repeat occurrences.

The typical stages of progressive discipline are:

  • A verbal warning/counseling;
  • A first written warning;
  • A second written warning and/or suspension; and
  • Termination.

The stage chosen for an inappropriate performance and/or behaviour will depend on a variety of factors that include: the severity of the infraction; the previous work history of the employee; and how the choice will affect others in the Agency, and the client’s and public they interact with.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:

Corresponding Procedure:  CA.52.02.142  Progressive Discipline Process

CA.52.01.100  Harassment and Discrimination
CA.56.01.119  Violence Prevention
Human Rights Code
Employment Standards Act, 2000

Contact for inquiries: Director, Administrative Services

Procedure

Management should consult with Human Resources (HR) regarding disciplinary matters prior to taking action whenever possible in order to ensure Collective Agreement and legislative compliance (as applicable). Disciplinary action may consist of a verbal warning/counseling, written warnings, suspension(s), or termination depending on the performance or behaviour issue.

In dealing with situations that require a disciplinary response, the manager should consider:

  • The feedback and reasons for the misconduct as provided by the employee;
  • The seriousness of the situation;
  • Frequency of misconduct;
  • The intent of misconduct (i.e. willful, accidental, etc.);
  • The employee’s work history; and
  • The effect of the performance or behaviour misconduct on the organization, clients, and/or the public.

General Progressive Discipline Guidelines and Documentation Requirements:

  • Discipline is not automatically the first course of action for an employee failing to maintain compliance with organizational requirements.
  • Disciplinary action is a constructive process for correcting inappropriate performance or behaviour and should:
  • consist of the least severe action required to accomplish the change to rectify the misconduct;
  • be in direct proportion to the performance or behaviour;
  • be administered on a good-faith basis throughout WDGPH; and
  • be judged on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to the employee’s past job performance and behaviour (as appropriate).
  • All disciplinary actions must be supported by objective information including the reason for the disciplinary notice, the Agency’s performance expectations, the action plan and the timeline to address the misconduct in which the employee is required to achieve improved performance and/or behaviour.
  • The timeline should be reasonable and supported by any necessary information and training required to assist the employee in reaching performance expectations. 
  • A date for the employee and immediate supervisor to meet to review the employee’s progress should be established.

Notes are required of any meeting to discuss required employee improvement. A copy of these notes – summarizing the discussion and agreed action including timelines are to be provided to the employee.

Serious Misconduct:

While disciplinary actions are being considered, a temporary suspension may be imposed for allegations of serious misconduct which may include but is not limited to:

  • Stealing;
  • Insubordination;
  • Workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and/or workplace violence;
  • Falsifying records;
  • Gross negligence of clients; and
  • Reporting to work unfit and being under the influence of drugs or intoxicants, consuming drugs or intoxicants (excluding prescribed medications).

While the investigation is proceeding the employee is paid during the temporary suspension. All suspensions or termination require prior approval of the program director and the Director, Administrative Services (or designate).

General Discipline Steps:

Disciplinary Interview

A critical element of progressive discipline is conducting an objective and thorough investigation to determine if there is just cause to issue disciplinary action. Union employees will be advised that they have the right to have a Union representative attend the meeting if they so choose. 

Generally, the following key messages are covered during a disciplinary interview:

  • Ensure the employee has been made aware of a potential performance/behavioural misconduct issue that could potentially lead to corrective action. 
  • Identify the unacceptable performance/behaviour allegation, and explain why it is not acceptable.
  • Ask the employee to provide information about the allegation and what they feel happened.
  • If appropriate, ask the employee for input on how to correct the performance/behavioural misconduct issue. 
  • At the end of the interview, advise the employee of the outcome of your investigation as well as the anticipated timeline (as appropriate). 

The Delivery of Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action should be delivered in a private meeting with the employee with appropriate documentation (i.e. letter to employee, etc.). Managers are required to review all formal written discipline (i.e. written warning) with HR prior to issuing it to the employee. HR can assist managers with drafting formal written discipline notices. Union employees will be advised that they have the right to have a Union representative attend the meeting if they so choose. 

Depending upon the level and severity of discipline, managers should involve another supervisory staff member, or an HR representative. All attendees at the meeting must maintain total confidentiality and privacy regarding the discussion and documentation provided.

The following key messages should be covered by management during the meeting:

  • Identify the unacceptable performance/behaviour, and explain why it is not acceptable.
  • Ask the employee to provide information about the incident and what they feel needs to happen to correct the problem, what solutions they can suggest.
  • Discuss the change required; ask the employee how management can help them to address the problem.
  • Provide counseling where required to help identify required performance/behaviour.
  • Clearly state that immediate and continuous improvement must be demonstrated by the employee; identify a timeline.
  • Ask the employee if they understand the reason they need to improve their performance and/or behaviour and what expectations, action and timeline is required.
  • Advise the employee that if they fail to demonstrate immediate and continuous improvement, further disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including termination.
  • Establish a time to meet to review the required performance/behaviour change and to ensure the employee has addressed all the issues.
  • A copy of the formal written disciplinary action must be sent to HR for the employee’s personnel file.

Employees will:

  • Ensure they understand the issue being discussed relating to the disciplinary action.
  • Provide information regarding the situation; what they feel needs to happen to correct the problem; what solutions they can suggest; what help is required from their immediate supervisor and others if applicable.
  • Ensure they understand what is required to improve their performance and/or behaviour, and the timeline in which they must improve.

General Steps of Disciplinary Action Levels

  1. Verbal Warning/Counseling
  2. Written Warning
  3. Suspension.  If a suspension has been identified as part of the disciplinary process, the suspension period must be determined working with HR and the Director prior to meeting with the employee. The suspension period will depend upon the severity of the situation and it may be appropriate to follow a one day, three day, five day pattern for repeated misconduct. 
  4. Termination/separation of employment

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Directors will:

  • Understand and support managers through the progressive disciplinary process;
  • Work with managers and employees to achieve positive performance and behaviour in the workplace;
  • Conduct a thorough investigation of all the facts relating to the incident when necessary;
  • Ensure impartial, fair and equitable disciplinary action is taken; and
  • Interface with HR and other management and attend progressive disciplinary meetings when required.

Supervisors/Managers will:

  • Ensure employees understand and follow the progressive disciplinary process;
  • Work with employees to achieve optimum performance and behaviour to maintain a positive and safe work environment;
  • Ensure the investigation is conducted in a thorough, fair, equitable and timely manner;
  • Prepare a plan that addresses the disciplinary action required with as reasonable timeline;
  • Prepare and review all written disciplinary action with HR prior to issuing it;
  • Provide the employee with appropriate documentation including all relevant information concerning the incident;
  • Meet with the employee to review and discuss their performance and/or behaviour, determine the best course of action;
  • Provide complete progressive disciplinary documentation to HR and the division director;
  • Follow-up and monitor performance/behaviour to ensure employee meets required improved performance/behaviour within the timeline identified; and
  • Address any additional performance and/or behavioural issues; confirm whether any further action is required.

Employees will:

  • Ensure they understand and adhere to the Progressive Disciplinary policy; discuss any concerns with their immediate supervisor;
  • Understand their responsibility regarding performance and behaviour in the workplace;
  • Work with co-workers, clients, partners and others in the workplace towards ensuring a positive and safe work environment;
  • Provide feedback and documentation to their immediate supervisor regarding incidents and investigations to confirm accurate information is provided;
  • Participate in the disciplinary process, work towards improving performance and behaviour as identified within the timelines specified; and
  • Recognize the importance of adhering to the disciplinary process to ensure the necessary improvement objectives are achieved.

HR will:

  • Provide support, advice and counsel as required to management and employees involved in the progressive disciplinary process;
  • Be involved in discussions and meetings as required regarding oral and written warnings, suspensions and terminations to ensure legislative compliance;
  • Ensure investigations and disciplinary action is conducted in a thorough, impartial, fair, equitable and timely manner;
  • Follow Collective Agreement and legislative regulations regarding all disciplinary actions;
  • Confirm that complete progressive disciplinary records are provided by management; and
  • Maintain disciplinary records in an employee’s personnel file according to policy and the Collective Agreement.

DEFINITIONS:

Progressive Discipline is a system of discipline where the penalties increase upon repeat occurrences.

The typical stages of progressive discipline are:

  1. A verbal warning/counseling.
  2. A first written warning.
  3. A second written warning and/or suspension(s).
  4. Termination.

The stage chosen for an inappropriate performance and/or behaviour will depend on a variety of factors that include: the severity of the infraction; the previous work history of the employee; and how the choice will affect others in the organization.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:

Corresponding Policy:  CA.52.01.142  Progressive Discipline Process

CA.52.01.100  Harassment and Discrimination
CA.56.01.119  Violence Prevention
Human Rights Code
Employment Standards Act, 2000

Contact for inquiries: Director, Administrative Services