Although many employers use progressive discipline policies, I am typically not a big fan. In theory progressive discipline seems like a good idea: it allows an employee to learn from their mistakes. It puts the employee on notice that further discipline is going to have more serious consequences. It is difficult for an employee who has gone through the steps to claim surprise when the termination arrives.
On the other hand, progressive discipline limits an employer’s flexibility. Sometimes it is clear an employee isn’t working out, but the company feels bound to go through the steps before terminating. In other cases, the circumstances may warrant giving an employee more chances that the policy allows. In those situations, an employee may be terminated simply because they are on the last step, even though the company would rather keep the employee.