Toronto Employment Lawyer Advising Employers on Progressive Discipline Policies

Employee performance management and discipline can be tricky to navigate for employers. On the one hand, implementing disciplinary processes can be time-consuming and may not ultimately yield the desired result, rendering the attempts futile. On the other hand, taking the time and effort to work with employees to course-correct performance issues can ultimately benefit employers. Creating clear progressive discipline policies sets employee expectations from the start of the employment relationship and helps ensure consistency in the workplace. It also helps protect and prepare employers should the need arise to terminate the employee for cause.

Haynes Law Firm in Toronto helps employers manage performance issues and develop customized progressive discipline strategies with proven success. The firm’s founder, Paulette Haynes, regularly works with employers across various sectors to develop protocols and policies designed to increase performance and improve the employee/employer relationship. Paulette is particularly adept at identifying and correcting performance issues before they become grounds for termination or costly litigation.

What is Progressive Discipline?

Progressive discipline is a series of disciplinary measures an employer uses to manage and correct employee performance issues. Corrective actions will vary by workplace and industry but may include an escalation of techniques such as:

  • Verbal and/or written warnings;
  • A performance plan to monitor progress, often within a specified timeline;
  • Training on workplace practices and policies; and/or
  • Suspension.

Employers who implement progressive disciplinary techniques should communicate timelines, expectations, and consequences to the employee in question. Employers should also document each step taken in the process.

What are the Benefits of Progressive Discipline?

Limiting Employer Liability and Risk

The primary benefit of implementing progressive disciplinary techniques is to protect the employer from liability should termination for cause become necessary. Employees terminated for cause are not entitled to working notice or pay in lieu notice or severance pay. Given the severe financial consequences of terminating an employee for cause, courts require strict proof and make it particularly challenging for employers to prove termination without notice was justified.

If an employer cannot satisfy the court that termination was justified, the employer will be required to compensate the employee for reasonable notice, severance pay (if entitled), and accrued interest. The employer may also be liable for the employee’s legal costs and/or damages if the court determines the employee was terminated in bad faith.

If, however, an employer can demonstrate the employee was terminated after multiple attempts at course correction, including written warnings, established timelines, and clear consequences, it is much easier to prove just cause for dismissal. Courts are considerably more sympathetic to employers that provide employees with support and assistance to improve their performance.

Retaining an Existing Employee is More Cost-Effective than Hiring a New One

Recruiting, interviewing, hiring and then training new employees is time-consuming and expensive. Working with an existing employee to improve their performance through supportive progressive disciplinary techniques is almost always more economical and efficient than finding a replacement. Haynes Law Firm helps identify and implement progressive discipline policies to prioritize retention over replacement, saving employers time and money.

Setting Clear Expectations Helps Resolve and Prevent Conflict

Implementing a straightforward disciplinary process helps ensure employees understand the consequences of poor performance, setting expectations early. A clear policy also provides consistency in the application of disciplinary practices, helping employers avoid claims of discrimination in the workplace. Haynes Law Firm excels at developing custom progressive discipline policies tailored to an employer’s specific needs.

For Assistance with Progressive Disciplinary Techniques and Performance Management, Contact Haynes Law Firm in Toronto

Employers must refrain from acting hastily when it comes to terminating employees for cause to avoid potential liability. When faced with poor employee performance, implementing clear policies and escalating corrective measures can help employers avoid costly damages awards and help preserve the employment relationship.

Paulette Haynes, along with the team at Haynes Law Firm works with employers across the country to mitigate their risk when it comes to employee performance management and termination. Paulette resolves problems before they become costly disputes, and this is precisely why many of her employer clients regularly and repeatedly turn to her for guidance. To discuss how the team at Haynes Law Firm can assist you, please fill out the online form, or call at 416-593-2731.