“My employee was late 3 times in the last 2 weeks. Per our office policy, I am supposed to suspend her for one day with out pay. We are really busy this week and I really need her to work. What should I do?”
The problem that you have here is not uncommon. Unless you enforce the office policy, you will render the policy null and void by setting a precedent. Written policy not consistently enforced is not office policy. Office policy adherence is determined by continued enforcement by management.
Why you should have policy: Policy is the guiding principle behind the operation of any organization. Policy sets the ground rules and develops group agreement of how things “should be”. In order for any office to function most effectively as a team, agreements must be known and adhered to for smooth, efficient coordination and cooperation. As long as people know what the rules of the activity are, and those guidelines are clearly presented as being in the best interest of the activity, the policies will normally be followed. Any conflict can usually be resolved by reference to existing policy within the organization that covers such situations.
By not enforcing the policy, you send a signal to the group that policy is only enforced some of the time. It can open you up to discrimination claims by disgruntled employees who feel you follow policy for some people, but not others. You may also find your self in a situation of not being able to enforce this same policy at a later date.
You need to have office policy. But, if you have policy and don’t enforce it, or only sporadically enforce it, it can be more troublesome than not having any policy at all as it can open you up to legal claims.
The lesson is to have good, understandable, workable office policies and see that they are followed consistently.
Note: This article is not intended as legal advice nor should any statement made in this article be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions about the labor laws and rules of your state, contact your state labor board or labor attorney.
For an example office policy, or for more information about how to better manage your practice and how to attain the goals you first set when starting out in practice, contact Silkin at 1-800-726-1810 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also ask us about obtaining a free practice analysis.
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