HR Management & Compliance

Why Documentation is Crucial When Discipline Is Involved

Yesterday, we looked at attorney David Schmit’s “Workers’ Comp 101” tips for staying in legal compliance when discipline is necessary—including the importance of good cause and consistent treatment. Today, his thoughts on the key role of documentation.

Schmit made his comments at a recent webinar hosted by Business & Legal Resources, CER’s parent company. Schmit is the founder of Schmit Law in Oakland.

The Importance of Documentation When Choosing to Discipline

Any time a decision is made to discipline an employee—whether they are a workers’ compensation claimant or not—be sure to have evidence to back up the need for discipline.

If you don’t have any evidence other than the supervisor’s observations—even if the supervisor says that the misconduct has been consistent—do not proceed with terminating the employee.

The way to proceed is to start the documentation process. Start by advising the employee of the unacceptable behavior and giving him or her an opportunity to improve. The employee may improve the behavior.

If the employee doesn’t improve, you’ve got the start of documentation to be able to take further action later. Again, consistent enforcement of the rules is key. Document infractions of all employees and supervisors, not just those of the employee in question.

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Workers’ comp is one of the few areas of employment law that are almost entirely governed at the state level. And it’s complicated, to say the least:

  • What qualifies as a covered injury or illness?
  • Should you self-insure?
  • Who’s entitled to workers’ comp benefits?
  • What do you need to know about the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF)?
  • How are premiums calculated—and how can you keep yours as low as possible?
  • What should be included in your Injury & Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)?
  • Which workers’ comp notices must you distribute to employees—and when?
  • How do you properly calculate benefits for injured employees?
  • What should your return-to-work program look like?
  • How does workers’ comp interact with other state and federal leave laws, including FMLA/CFRA and ADA/FEHA?
  • What can you do to reduce the risk of workers’ comp disputes—and fraud?
  • How should you respond to a workers’ comp-related lawsuit?

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