Part 4: Discipline

The disciplinary process is intended to provide a fair, constructive, and consistent approach to address and ideally resolve unacceptable conduct and/or performance.
An employee’s immediate supervisor is responsible for the disciplinary process and for ensuring:

  • The employee is advised of the unacceptable conduct and/or performance and given opportunity to explain his/her actions before any disciplinary action is taken.
  • Any investigation into misconduct should be documented in writing, preferably by a second person who is taking notes.  Any notes should take into account the date, the parties present, and what was said and asked.
  • All disciplinary conversations are held confidentially and objectively documented.
  • All letters or documents related to the disciplinary process are placed in the employee’s personnel file.

The discipline process may be progressive and may consist of four (4) stages as outlined below. The extent to which steps are progressively followed may vary and will depend on the frequency and nature of the conduct or performance.  However, given the nature of the misconduct, discipline does not necessarily need to be progressive.  The following factors may be considered in determining the appropriate disciplinary action:

  • Past record: is the unacceptable conduct and/or performance consistent or inconsistent with past conduct and/or performance of the employee?
  • Length of service: how long as the employee been with the organization?
  • Intent: did the employee act with willfulness or intent, or was the unacceptable conduct and/or performance due to carelessness or inattention?
  • Frequency: how many times has the unacceptable conduct and/or performance occurred?
  • Timeframe: has the unacceptable conduct and/or performance occurred frequently in a relatively short period of time?
  • Repetition: has a similar or the same unacceptable conduct and/or performance happened before? How long ago was the previous occurrence? Previous incidents may become less relevant to new discipline as time has passed and the unacceptable conduct and/or performance issues have not reoccurred.
  • Seriousness: how serious is the unacceptable conduct and/or performance, and has it had a negative impact on the organization and/or other employees?  In cases of very serious misconduct, termination of employment might be the most appropriate course of action even if the employee has a clean disciplinary record.
  • Treatment of others: how have other employees been treated for the same or similar unacceptable conduct and/or performance? If the employee or other employees engaged in similar conduct in the past without discipline being imposed, then it may be difficult to justify discipline for the same conduct in which case the employee might have to be put on notice that the conduct is unacceptable, before more serious discipline can be imposed.
  • Provocation: was the employee provoked by the actions of another individual(s)?
  • Knowledge: Was the employee aware that their conduct was unacceptable, or the level of performance expected of them?
  • Recognition of error and apology: has the employee admitted to the unacceptable conduct and/or performance and apologized or made remedies?

1. Verbal Warning

  • Used for minor unacceptable conduct and/or performance.
  • Supervisor discusses the unacceptable conduct and/or performance to ensure the employee understands the expected standards of performance, reason for warning, any remedial action they are required to take as a result of their actions, and consequences if unacceptable conduct and/or performance continues.
  • Supervisor objectively documents the discussion that occurred and places the notes in the employee’s personnel file.

2. Written Warning

  • Used for repeat of minor unacceptable conduct and/or performance after verbal warning, or for conduct and/or performance which is more serious in nature.
  • Supervisor discusses the content of the Written Warning, which documents the unacceptable conduct and/or performance to ensure the employee understands the expected standards of performance, reason for warning, any remedial action they are required to take as a result of their actions, and consequences if unacceptable conduct and/or performance continues.
  • Supervisor objectively documents the discussion that occurred and places a copy of the written warning in the employee’s personnel file.

Tools

  • Written Warning*

* To access this tool, please connect with your ​Physician Engagement Leader.

3. Performance Improvement Plan

  • A Performance Improvement Plan may be appropriate where an employee fails to meet conduct and/or performance expectations.
  • Supervisor discusses acceptable conduct and/or performance to ensure the employee understands the expected standards of performance,
  • Supervisor discusses the content of the performance improvement plan to ensure complete clarity in expectations and consequences of failing to meet expectations.
  • Supervisor objectively documents the discussion that occurred and places a copy of the plan in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Supervisor holds regularly scheduled meetings with the employee to monitor progress against the performance improvement plan and provides any necessary support.
  • Supervisor objectively documents all discussions related to the performance improvement plan, including progress reports, and places copies in the employee’s personnel file.
  • When implementing a Performance Improvement Plan consider what resources or training can be provided to the employee to assist in his or her improvement.

Tools

  • Performance Improvement Plan Template*

* To access this tool, please connect with your ​Physician Engagement Leader.

4. Suspension

Tip: Consider seeking legal advice if considering paid or unpaid suspensions and, in particular, if an investigation process is required.

  • In rare circumstances, suspension may be used during an investigation, especially if the investigation involves a sensitive matter such as an allegation of sexual harassment.  .
  • The employee should be notified of the reason for the suspension and its expected duration. This should be objectively documented and a copy of the notice should be included in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Suspension may be a period of paid or unpaid leave.  Suspensions during investigations should be paid except in rare circumstances.
  • It is recommended to consult a lawyer or HR professional before proceeding with a possible suspension.

​5. Termination – see Termination  section >