Any innovative ideas for disciplining employees?

While we have a progressive disciplinary policy in place, senior management has not lent me support. I have been asked to consider/find other measures that might teach employees to adhere to policy. I am new to this field and wonder whether I can 1) dock a salaried employee for a day of pay, 2) dock a vacation or personal day for hourly or salaried, 3) cut back an hourly employees hours for one week, 4) withhold a monthly commuter bonus that is received by all staff, whether hourly or salaried, 5) take away the paid 1/2 hour of lunch. P.S. we are a small company, without an in-house lawyer


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  • A few pieces of information would be helpful:

    1. What state(s) are you in?
    2. What industry is your company engaged in and what types of work are engaged in by its employees?
    3. How many total employees (individuals who receive paychecks: don't count non-employed owners) work for the Company?

    Your item 1 can be very risky, depending on the particulars of the case.  Docking exempt employee salary pay by individual days is much more easily accomplished within the regs than it used to be but the new rules are still designed to focus on infractions of serious rules barring things like sexual harassment and workplace violence and not for use with respect to infractions of, say, your attendance policy.

    Your item 2 will depends on what state you are in and, potentially, what you have in your written policy (assuming you have employee handbooks and signed receipts for their distribution).

    Your item 3 is a management right.  If there is no CBA in place and no other employment contract, and assuming this would not be used in any way that might look like it was done in a retaliatory manner, the Company has at its sole discretion the right to assign its workers as it sees fit.  I would be concerned about shorting hours without some sort of HR oversight to ensure that it doesn't happen to the wrong person at the wrong time.  For example, shorting hours on someone newly back from military leave, FMLA leave, or who has been involved in a harassment complaint could look retaliatory and be open to question.

    Your item 4, assuming it is not a government funded benefit but something that your company pays for, may have state issues involved but otherwise, the only concerns would be the same as described in my comments about your item 3.

    Your item 5 only applies to hourly, I assume.  Partial day deductions of pay for salaried people is a no-no, except for FMLA leave.  Partial day deductions of leave banks for partial day absences of exempt salaried employees are allowed under DOL regs but with the caveat that some attorneys are concerned about whether or not that DOL provision will be accepted by all circuits.  In any event, whether or not you can take that break away entirely depends on your state meal time / break law, which goes back to my question 1.

  • besides discipline rewarding,recognizing behavior that you want in the workplace is another way to assure adherence to company policy. what type of reward/recognition system do you have?  they need to be carefully created and implemented to be effective. for example they cannot be vague ... "hey, you did a good job."  you need to reward specific behavior, etc. it requires your managers to know and own the system.
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