Employee Discipline Essay

In keeping with the Mission of the Sisters of Providence, which requires respect, honesty, and justice in dealings with employees, PSJMC directs its disciplinary and corrective action efforts towards developing and coaching employees to achieve and maintain satisfactory conduct and performance. Although PSJMC may terminate the employment relationship at will without following any formal system of discipline or warnings, PSJMC exercises its discretion to use a progressive discipline to ensure a fair method of disciplining employees. The progressive discipline process is intended to give employees advance notice, when appropriate, in order to provide them an opportunity to correct any deficiencies in job performance or conduct.

PSJMC is committed to providing a workplace that is free of harassment and discrimination (PROV-HR-4036 Policy). PSJMC does not tolerate any kind of unlawful discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, or harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, citizenship, ancestry, gender, marital status, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law.

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Unlawful harassment, in any form including verbal, physical, or visual harassment will not be tolerated. The policy defines the procedure for reporting any occurrence of sexual or other unlawful harassment and applies to all employees and agents of the company as well as to nonemployees , including physicians, vendors, contractors, and others doing business with the company. Any employee or agent of the company who is found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including the possibility of immediate termination. This is an HR policy and is enforced by HR. PSJMC is committed to maintain a safe and productive work environment and expects employees to be reliable and punctual in reporting for scheduled work (PROV –HR 4687 Policy). Absenteeism and tardiness place a burden on the hospital and on other employees. In the rare circumstances when employees cannot avoid being late to work or are unable to work as scheduled, they should notify their supervisor as soon as possible in advance of the anticipated tardiness or absence as required by policy.

Excessive absenteeism and tardiness is disruptive and may lead to corrective action, up to and including termination of employment. The policy does not apply to employees on an authorized FMLA leave, including intermittent FMLA leave, or other leaves protected by state or federal law including verified occupational injury or illness. This is an HR policy and is enforced by HR. PSJMC ensures and maintains a work environment that promotes the interests of employee safety, efficiency, health, and productivity. It also recognizes that employee involvement with drugs and alcohol can be extremely disruptive and harmful to employees, patients, and the public. It adversely affects the quality of work and the performance of employees, poses serious safety and health risks to the user and others, and has a negative impact on work efficiency and productivity. All job applicants receiving offers of employment shall be required to submit a drug-screening test as a condition of employment.

Further, any employee observed with perceived impairment will be subject to a drug screening test when reasonable suspicion has been determined. The purpose of the policy is to provide a safe, healthy, productive and efficient working environment for employees, patients and the public. This is an Occupational Health and Safety policy and is enforced by HR (PROV-HR-4065 Policy). PSJMC complies with its ethical and legal obligations surrounding the appropriate use of social media.

The policy aims to clarify what constitutes official Providence use of social media, to establish guidelines for the official use of electronic social networking, and to clarify the personal responsibilities and legal implications of personal use of electronic social networking while at work or while posting information about Providence (PROV-CE-1098 Policy). Social media may be used by Providence for business-related purposes and its employees for business and other purposes subject to the restrictions set forth in the policy. The policy is established to assure compliance with legal and regulatory restrictions and privacy and confidentiality agreements. This policy was created by the Office of the CEO and enforced by HR.

Based off my research, PSJMC does an excellent job of ensuring that it has the appropriate policies in place to avoid legal litigation. That said, it is important that PSJMC look for more effective measures to educate employees about new or revised policies. The medical center relies on their intranet policy library as the policy depository and expects all employees to self educate. Most leaders and all of the employees I spoke to were not aware of several policies and did not know where to find them—resulting in a huge liability for the hospital as a result of poor implementation. When policies are violated or a manager needs to modify undesirable conduct after attempts of coaching, progressive discipline may need to be applied. The type of disciplinary action depends upon the nature and history of the employee’s misconduct. These disciplinary actions often include verbal warnings, written warnings, suspensions without pay, and demotions. Progressive discipline does not mean that PSJMC does not fire an employee for a first offense; some misconduct is of such a serious nature that no second chance is warranted.

Most undesirable behavior, however, does not result in immediate discharge, but rather in imposition of some lesser sanction. If the behavior is repeated, progressively more severe disciplinary action is taken, ultimately leading to termination. Managerial coaching is a growing alternative to formal discipline that attempts to get the employee actively involved in addressing performance slippage. Using company disciplinary procedures to address employee issues puts the ownership of the issue on the manager and human resources department. The employee will be asked to react to whatever course of action the manager and human resources group decides to take. A coaching approach puts ownership of the problem with the manager and employee. Any process of resolution is created between the manager and employee and it becomes the employee’s responsibility to find ways to solve the issue under the guidance of the manager.

The manager-employee relationship is important in creating a productive workplace. Coaches try to work with their employees to improve employee performance and find the deep-seated reasons as to why conflict exists. This kind of interactive process can work to improve the manager-employee relationship. If a manager turns to official disciplinary action without attempting to interact with the employee, then that can damage the manager-employee dynamic and create a division that results in a decline in morale, loss of productivity and an increase in employee turnover. Union representation protects union employees from unfair discipline, wrongful discharge and preserves workplace rights. Unless circumstances warrant severe actions, PSJMC utilizes progressive discipline to address union employee disciplinary issues also. The progressive steps are specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and include, verbal counseling, written counseling, disciplinary suspensions without pay, and termination of employment.

Union employees may request to have a union representative or steward present at any meeting if the employee believes that the meeting may result in disciplinary action. Copies of all written counseling(s) and all documentation are kept in the employee’s personnel file along with rebuttals. Corrective action or any reference to disciplinary action cannot be used against the employee for any purpose after twelve months—so, in essence progressive discipline has a twelve month window. If, the disciplinary action is grieved or arbitrated and the charges of the offense are determined to be without merit, all records are placed in a confidential envelope in the personnel file and cannot be used for progressive disciplinary action purposes. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a processes used for the purpose of resolving conflict or disputes informally and confidentially. The ADR Office at PSJMC offers all employees a resource that is informal, non-escalating and impartial. The goal is to identify possible strategies to resolve concerns before utilizing the traditional processes such as grievances and arbitrations.

Although ADR does not displace those traditional processes it does reduce the number of grievances and formal complaints received by human resource and legal departments. Some of the ADR activities include serving as a sounding board, providing and explaining policies and rules, how to address or report unacceptable or illegal behavior from a coworker or supervisor, offering referrals to other resources, helping people help themselves around communication styles, help collect and analyze information, helping to draft a letter about their issues, coaching and role-playing. The activities handled by the ADR Office are vast and diverse. Overall, employees see this service as a benefit and the hospital executives view the ADR as a proactive measure to protect and mitigate risk. In addition to the ADR, PSJMC offers Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to assist employees with personal challenges that may affect their on the job performance.

These challenges may fall into many categories including: drug and alcohol abuse, legal, marital, relocation, grief, abusive households, financial, childcare, eldercare, and outplacement services. Since all employees face serious problems at one time or another in their lives, and it is important to provide help during those times. EAP is structured to provide access to quality service providers. Participation in this plan is voluntary, and does not use information that impacts the employee’s chances of future employment or promotion.

All contact, participation, and treatment remain confidential. All EAP services provided are available to employees free of charge. The cost of long-term treatment or rehabilitation services is provided as defined under the health care plans. To reduce liability requires that employers have solid policies in place, utilize coaching and progressive discipline consistently and know how to properly document disciplinary actions. The importance of effective documentation of disciplinary actions cannot be overstressed. Apply disciplinary actions is at times uncomfortable but is absolutely necessary in order to help defeat frivolous claims of discrimination and promote a healthy workplace.


Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. (2012). Mission. Retrieved from https://california.providence.org/Saint-Joseph/pages/About-Mission.aspx

Providence Health & Services. (2009). Attendance and Punctuality, PROV –HR 4687 Policy|
Providence Health & Services. (2012). Counseling and Corrective Action, PROV-HR-4053 Policy

Providence Health & Services. (2012). Sexual and Unlawful Harassment, PROV-HR-4036 Policy

Providence Health & Services. (2012). Drug Free Workplace, PROV-HR-4065 Policy

Providence Health & Services. (2012). Social Media,
PROV-CE-1098 Policy

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