Corrective Action

Corrective action is a process of communicating with the employee to improve behavior or performance after other methods such as coaching and performance appraisal have not been successful.

All employees are expected to meet performance standards and behave appropriately in the workplace. The goal is to guide the employee to correct performance or behavior by identifying the problems, causes and solutions, not to punish the employee.

In general, corrective action should be progressive, beginning with the lowest severity action before employing actions of more severity. Any formal corrective or disciplinary action must follow the principles of "Just Cause". 

After establishing that corrective or disciplinary action is warranted, use some or all of the following steps:

Verbal Warning

The supervisor should:

  • Set a time and place to ensure privacy.
  • Make notes about what they want to say in advance.
  • Remember that the employee has a right to choose representation. (Weingarten Rights)
  • State clearly that they are issuing an oral warning.
  • Be specific in describing the unacceptable performance or behavior.
  • Remind the employee of the acceptable standards or rules. If they are available in writing, they should be provided to the employee.
  • State the consequences of failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement, or further disciplinary action may warranted.
  • Note the oral warning on their calendar.

Written Warning

If the supervisor gave an oral warning and the problem performance or behavior persists, a written warning may be given. This action may be used more than once, however if the problem continues to persist repetitive letters may not be the solution. A template letter may be requested from an Employee Relations Consultant. A written warning should:

  • State clearly at the outset of the letter that it is a written warning, and cite the appropriate personnel policy or contract provision.
  • Describe the performance problem(s) or work rule violation(s) in very specific detail and attach documents which support the supervisor's conclusions.
  • Outline previous steps taken to acquaint the employee with the issue and attach copies of the documents that are referred to.
  • Describe the impact of the problem.
  • Note the employee's explanation or that the employee declined to offer one. If it was unacceptable, the supervisor should explain why.
  • Explain the expectations regarding behavior and/or performance.
  • Clarify that if the employee doesn't demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement, the consequence may be further disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
  • Note the appropriate policy or contract provision for the employee's appeal rights.
  • The warning letter should be delivered to the employee using appropriate delivery procedures such as Proof of Service, and a copy forwarded to HR to be placed in the employee's personnel file.

Suspension Without Pay

A suspension may be the next step in progressive corrective action after written warning(s). Typically, suspensions will prevent an employee to work and requires the employee to leave without pay for one to ten working days, as specified in the letter.

The letter should:

  • State that the action is a suspension without pay.
  • Inform the employee of the number of days they will be suspended with the beginning and ending dates.
  • Describe the problem, the previous corrective measures, and the impact of the continued behavior or performance.
  • State the supervisor's expectations and the consequences of failure to improve.
  • Notify the employee of their appeal rights, if appropriate.

Depending upon the contract or personnel program the employee is covered by, a letter of intent to suspend may be required, which provides the employee with the right to appeal the intended action to the next higher management level before the action is implemented. Contact your Employee Relations Consultant as well as the appropriate policy or contract for more information. A template letter may be requested from your Employee Relations Consultant.

Reduction of Pay within a Class

This alternative is normally used when a supervisor does not wish to remove the employee from the work site, but serious discipline is appropriate. Contact your Employee Relations Consultant for more information regarding this corrective action.

Demotion to a Lower Classification

This action involves moving an employee to a lower level position, and may be temporary or permanent. Demotion may be appropriate in cases of inadequate performance of responsibilities at a particular level, rather than violation of work rules. It should be based upon a reasonable expectation that the employee will perform successfully in the lower classified position. Contact your Employee Relations Consultant for more information regarding this action.


This action may be appropriate after performance counseling and progressive corrective action have failed to get the employee to correct the problem(s). Contact your Employee Relations Consultant for more information regarding this action.