The HR Basics: How to Handle Employees Who Refuse to Sign Disciplinary Forms

By Hilary Atkins posted 06-05-2017 08:19 AM


The dog days of summer are upon us, and things get a little slower in the courts as judges go on recess, and state legislatures adjourn for a portion of the next couple of months.

So, for this blog, we offer some basic tips on how to handle employees who have violated a workplace policy and who refuse to sign disciplinary forms.

To set the stage, documentation is an important part of an employer’s legal defense. Well-executed documentation should be obvious to owners and managers, yet it is surprising at how often many of these people omit proper recording of events that can lead to litigation and judgements against their bottom line.

In your documentation, you should include all pertinent data including the author; complete employee data; dates, times and places; a thorough explanation of the problem and anything that led up to it that is relevant; and any circumstances that contributed to its resolution, or, more importantly, its delay. And, if merited, you may also impose a disciplinary notice if that coincides with company policy. You should indicate for the employee that it is your company policy as well to secure a signature from the employee who is the subject of the infraction.

But what if that employee refuses to sign the notice? No worries and do not engage the employee in a battle of forcing a signature – simply note on your documentation a simple four-word phrase: “Employee refused to sign.” Then initial and date the document yourself next to your notation. That will suffice, as an employee signature is not required on a disciplinary notice for it to be effective.