Writing Up A Negligence Injury

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about writing up negligence:

Can an employer write up an employee for a negligence injury? If so, how would you word it?

Signed, Ready to Write

Dear Ready to Write:

There is no law about sanctioning an employee for an injury they received as the result of negligence, but there are plenty of reasons to approach it in a different way. Talk to your HR section or even an attorney about the matter, to receive the most accurate advice about it, given the circumstances. At the very least, make sure everyone in the management chain above you has given their opinion and supports the final decision.

If you reprimand or discipline the employee, do it for the negligence not the injury. You can mention the injury as an example of why the negligent action is prohibited under the rules. But your approach should not be one of “I told you so”, rather it should be, “You violated the policies and we are disciplining you for that.” Then, before the conversation is done, you can add something like, “Bill, we’ve taken action about the negligent actions that led to your injury, but I don’t want you to think that I don’t care about your injury, because I do. I hope you are able to manage the pain and that you heal quickly and can return to work soon.”

Adding something like can take the anger out of his feelings. But, if you seem to not care about his injury he is likely to stretch out his time off as long as possible and come back as a disgruntled employee–possibly with others agreeing with him.Showing some concern is the decent way to treat people.

No one expects to get hurt when they take shortcuts or fail to wear safety equipment. But, even though they might know they will receive a penalty for their failure to do the right thing, they still want their supervisors and managers to care about how they hurt or how they feel.When you write this up, after getting approval, stick to handling it like any other infraction. Then, verbally add your thoughts of concern.Best wishes to you as you deal with this. This allows you the chance to really show your leadership role rather than only your rule-enforcement role. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe