The Essentials of Employee Coaching, Counseling, and Discipline

Virtually all aspects of HR and management practices impact employee rights. Think hiring, performance appraisals, quality control, references or employment disciplinary actions taken. Providing proper coaching and advice to your supervisors and managers is essential.
How would you answer the following questions?

  1. Can we install a security camera in the supply closet? What if someone is taking our supplies?
  2. Can we monitor email, voicemail, and telephone calls?
  3. Can I legally search an employee’s desk or locker?
  4. How can I give a reference without being at risk?
  5. When doing background and reference checks, how far can I go?

Let’s go over the answers.

  1. Security cameras? Yes. It’s company property and it is not in an area such as a locker or bathroom where an employee’s rights would be violated.
  2. Email, voicemail, and telephone monitoring? Yes, as long as you notify employees in advance of the intent to do so randomly and only do so as outlined in the company policy. This goes back to your policies and procedures.
  3. Can I legally search an employee’s desk or locker? Yes, if you’ve designated it ahead of time as company property and subject to search and seizure. Guess where that info needs to be? Yep –in your policies and procedures. However, if you allow an employee to install their own lock on a locker, it becomes the property of the employee and to search it at that point becomes unlawful.
  4. How can I give a reference without being at risk? You will need to require employees to provide written authorization for references. A word of caution about reference checks, do not provide questionable information that is not requested. Simply verify job responsibilities, eligibility for rehire, salary, title, etc.
  5. When doing background and reference checks, how far can I go? Investigate in line with the requirements of the job. You must have authorization to do a background check.

You need to be careful when interviewing and obtaining references. The more questions you ask, the more likely you are to receive information that may be perceived as discriminatory. Because of this, your best bet is to ask for name, job title, and dates of employment.

Performance feedback might seem like an innocent enough area, why would we need to be cautious here? Unfortunately, managers are not at all objective. This is reflected in their documentation. Stick to the facts and you will be safe.

By educating managers on what practices are acceptable and unacceptable, as well as what they can and cannot share when investigating and disciplining an individual, employee rights can be protected and observed.

Check your online library for help in management with courses such as: