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Q&A: Do you recommend reducing hours as a disciplinary measure?

Question:

Do you recommend reducing hours as a disciplinary measure?

Answer from Kyle, PHR:

No, I don’t recommend reducing hours as a disciplinary measure.

Discipline is most effective when it directly addresses the performance or behavioral issue the employee is having. The aim is to improve performance or correct behavior. Reducing hours, however, doesn’t accomplish either of those objectives or deal with the problem directly. And if reducing hours isn’t a common practice in your workplace, an employee could challenge your decision as inconsistent with your policy or discriminatory.

Instead, I would recommend that you follow a progressive discipline process, possibly with a performance improvement plan. Meet with the employee to discuss the performance or behavioral problems, and document your expectations going forward.

Treating the employee consistent with your policy and documenting the steps of the process will be useful if any of your decisions are later challenged. And using discipline that directly addresses the problems at hand will give the employee an opportunity to improve and better contribute to your organization’s success. If the performance or behavior doesn’t improve, you could then look at further discipline or termination.

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Kyle joined us after six years of freelance writing and editing. He has worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, successful business leaders, and non-profit organizations. His book, a memoir about grief and hope, was published by Loyola Press in 2013.

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