Tracking employee discipline is a major responsibility of a supervisor or manager. One definition of discipline is the enforcement of company rules and policies. Due to certain legal issues, such as discrimination and harassment, it is necessary for all disciplinary actions to be documented in writing. Although the best discipline is "self-discipline," problem employees unfortunately exist in the workplace. Therefore a formal focus on discipline is required.

1. Investigate any Report of an Incident or Offense

Investigate any report of an incident or offense. It is best to be on the safe side than off and running with a disciplinary action if the facts are not reliable. Receiving a disciplinary action of any kind is serious business.

If not handled in a professional manner, there could be legal ramifications for the company. Some companies use an employee discipline tracking spreadsheet for tracking disciplinary actions, but confidentiality is an issue.

2. Document the Incident in Writing

Document the incident in writing. If not in writing, it never happened. Depending on company policy, the first incident or offense may be addressed with a verbal warning. Even so, complete the correct forms with dates, employee(s) involved, and all of the when, where, who, why, and what questions answered.

Even if it was only a verbal warning, document it in writing and have it signed by both employee and supervisor. Place the document in a separate, locked, file in the personnel folder.

3. Include all Necessary Information

Write clearly and include all of the necessary information. Be cautious about expressing anger or any other emotion in the documentation. Keep in mind that others may look at it, even the employee's attorney. Maintain objectivity and respect for the employee. Each time the file is used, make certain it is returned to the proper place, under lock and key.

4. Set Up Separate Files in the Personnel Folder

Set up separate files in the personnel folder. Disciplinary actions should always be documented in writing and placed in the employee's file. In order to protect the employee's privacy, many companies keep these files separate from other information. There are still pro and con arguments about tracking employee discipline in a software package.

Things You Will Need
  • Incident reports

  • Documentation of investigation

  • Documentation of disciplinary action

  • Separate file with lock


Share information about policies and procedures with all employees.

Explain the disciplinary program in your new employee orientation.


If you use a software program for tracking discipline documentation, be cautious with the passwords.

Remember the Privacy Act and employee's right to confidentiality when it comes to disciplinary actions.