Progressive Corrective Discipline

Except in gross misconduct situations, the aim of discipline is to correct the behavior or improve the performance.


  • Check it out with the employee. Say: "It has been brought to my attention..." or "What can you tell me about this?"
  • Don't get caught up in the emotion of the moment. Take a deep breath, step away from it.
  • Don't come to premature conclusions. Listen to what is being said. Think about: What is expected? What is wrong?
  • Practice good listening skills in all investigatory meetings
  • Be respectful and courteous
  • Be fair
  • Be as specific as possible
  • Respect due process rights of employee under investigation

Disciplinary Documentation

Complete some documentation at each stage:

  • Use a form if required
  • Date it
  • Label it
  • Keep it simple
  • Give a copy to the employee

Steps in Progressive Corrective Discipline

If your situation with a performance problems reaches the formal discipline stage, you should be working with your unit HR Professional at each stage in the process.

Oral Warning

Identified as oral in documentation—typically stays in department files. Clearly states that it is disciplinary. The Oral Warning Disciplinary Action form (.docx) may be used to document this warning.

Written Warning

Identified as written in documentation—is an increasing level of discipline. Kept in official personnel file.


No set increment exists for a suspension without pay—typically given for one, three, or five days. A short suspension with pay may be implemented if needed to complete an investigation.


When all other corrective efforts have failed, termination may be appropriate. When behavior is serious enough to warrant immediate permanent action, termination is indicated.