Employee Policies Manual Policy Index

Progressive Discipline

The purpose of this policy is to state Wilkes University's position on administering equitable and consistent discipline for unsatisfactory conduct in the workplace. The best disciplinary measure is the one that does not have to be enforced and comes from good leadership and fair supervision at all employment levels.

Wilkes University's own best interest lies in ensuring fair treatment of all employees and in making certain that disciplinary actions are prompt, uniform, and impartial. The major purpose of any disciplinary action is to correct the problem, prevent recurrence, and prepare the employee for satisfactory service in the future.

Although employment with Wilkes University is based on mutual consent and both the employee and Wilkes University have the right to terminate employment at will, with or without cause or advance notice, Wilkes University may use progressive discipline at its discretion.

Disciplinary action may call for any of four steps--verbal warning, written warning, suspension or termination of employment--and may be initiated at any of the four steps depending on the severity of the problem and the number of occurrences. There may be circumstances when one or more steps are bypassed.

Progressive discipline is usually a multi-step process that includes counseling, coaching and defined expectations and sanctions. It also means that with respect to most, but not all, disciplinary problems these steps will normally be followed: a first offense may call for a verbal warning; a next offense may be followed by a written warning; another offense may lead to a suspension; and, still another offense may then lead to termination of employment.

Managers and supervisors-- with regards to progressive discipline-- are expected to: 1) counsel and coach employees; 2) identify the problem(s); 3) express employer's expectations and 4) explain the consequences of employee performance, behavior or misconduct.

Wilkes University recognizes that there are certain types of employee problems that are serious enough to justify either a suspension, or, in extreme situations, termination of employment, without going through the usual progressive discipline steps. Managers should refer to the Employment Termination Policy (# 405) for guidelines to follow for involuntary terminations.

While it is impossible to list every type of behavior that may be deemed a serious offense, the Employee Conduct and Work Rules Policy (#701) includes examples of problems that may result in discipline up to and including immediate suspension or termination of employment.

By using progressive discipline, we hope that most employee problems can be corrected at an early stage, benefiting both the employee and Wilkes University.

Managers should consult with the Human Resources Development Office for assistance in dealing with matters involving Progressive Discipline.

Policy No. 716 Effective Date: 2/1/2004