You may have heard of decision-making leave in the past but haven’t been sure how to implement it or what benefits it offers to your organization.

What is Decision-Making Leave?

Decision-making leave is often a final step in a progressive discipline policy. The goal is to correct a performance issue with an employee and give one final chance for improvement. This is an extremely serious step, because the end result for not changing the performance issue in this case is termination. We recommend that decision-making leave only be used after documented verbal written warning have been given to the employee and no change in performance has resulted.

Decision-Making Leave Process

The process consists of a documented conversation between the supervisor and the employee about a discipline, performance or behavior problem. You can use the Helpside Decision-Making Leave Worksheet (found in download below) to document this conversation. Make a copy of the worksheet for the employee to take with them and complete should they choose to return to work.

Following the conversation, the employee leaves work (not to exceed two scheduled days of work) to decide whether to continue working for the company, which means following all the rules and meeting performance standards. Decision-making leave is best utilized when the employee is given a day of paid suspension, but can also be used in conjunction with unpaid suspension.

If the employee returns from the decision-making leave having made the decision to work and follow all the rules, the employee is required to write a statement to the company outlining the employee’s understanding of the situation, what the employee did that is unacceptable and what the employee plans to do to make sure the situation is not repeated. Also, the employee must include in his/her statement that he/she understands that a reoccurrence of the behavior or a failure to change behavior will result in the termination of employment.

If the employee decides to quit or does not return from leave, the worksheet should be completed with those details, and the employee should be considered to have resigned voluntarily.

What are the Benefits of Decision-Making Leave?

Decision-making leave provides the employee with one final chance to improve a performance or behavior issue prior to termination. Replacing employees is expensive, often costing 16-20 percent of the employee’s annual salary for an average position. If you can save an employee, change his or her perspective, you just may be able to retain the employee long-term and avoid the high cost of turnover.

Decision-making leave also ensures that the employee and the supervisor are on the same page about performance issues and expectations for improvement. There should be no surprises to the employee if they are terminated for not meeting performance standards because it is laid out clearly in the process and the employee agreed to meet the standards as a condition of his or her employment. This protects the company against unnecessary liability when it comes to unemployment and other claims the employee may file upon separation.

If you choose to use decision-making leave in your organization, make sure that your supervisors understand its purpose and follow all of the steps, including proper documentation to ensure the best outcome.

Download this Decision-Making Leave information packet to share with your management team to this step in your progressive discipline process.

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to the HR experts at Helpside for assistance.