Labour code says employers can terminate employees in the 1st 3 months of employment without justification or documentation. Once the period of employment exceeds 3 months, justification and documentation are necessary.
Remedial action may include training in specific areas to allow the employee the opportunity to acquire the skill or knowledge to correct their action such as defensive driving or hours of service training.
The following levels of disciplinary action should be followed each and every time when dealing with employee situations:
Verbal warnings are the 1st step on the disciplinary ladder. These can range from general discussions of deficiencies and improvements expected as related to an employee training plan, to an official verbal warning. We suggest documenting discussions and acknowledgement by employee to employee personnel file.
Written warnings are the 2nd step on the disciplinary ladder. The letter should include:
- a clear identification of the infraction
- date of the infraction
- confirmation of previous verbal warnings
- specific action to be taken to correct behavior - more serious action may be taken if these changes are not evidenced
- state if the warning is final
Allow the employee to respond to the issue. The letter of reprimand is a documented infraction recorded in an employee's personnel file. In instances of absenteeism, a list of the absences should be attached to the letter of reprimand to give the employee the opportunity to challenge. Place the response in the employee's personnel file.
This action suspends the employee without pay for a reasonable amount of time and is usually not appropriate until the employee has received verbal and/or written warnings. However, there may be some forms of misconduct, which warrant automatic suspension, such as insubordination. In accordance with the disciplinary ladder, a 1-day suspension is initially imposed, followed by a 3- to 5-day suspension with a final warning.
Final warnings are important but must be given at the right time. The last suspension before discharge should also include a final warning to make it clear to the employee that any further incident of misconduct will result in discharge. This is an important step since adjudicators may conclude that the employee did not realize that they would be fired the next time.
Termination or discharge
An employee is discharged for grave misconduct. It is normally based on an accumulation of infractions, when all other remedial disciplinary measures have failed. The employee must have been informed of any previous infractions and have been given a final warning that further misconduct could result in termination of the employee.
The employer must illustrate a perfect system of progressive discipline; that it acted reasonably and brought the problems to the attention of the employee. In rare cases, however, it is possible to discharge an employee for the 1st offense but the normal pattern is to progress through the levels of disciplinary action.
It is important to ensure that all steps are well documented. Please refer to the Remedial Action/Progressive Discipline form (pdf, 5 kb) and the Sample Discipline Plan (pdf, 12 kb) to document the disciplinary action taken by a carrier.
Canada Labour Program