Progressive Approach to Disciplinary Action
There are several things that the manager or supervisor should do to produce positive results.
First, the employee should be informed of their violation of university policies or rules. It's also important to provide an opportunity to improve, unless the seriousness of the conduct or rule violation calls for immediate action to dismiss the employee. Finally, supervisors should always inform employees of the time frame for expected improvements. There are four levels of discipline — oral counseling, written reprimand, suspension and/or dismissal — that may be used to correct employee behavior.
To correct minor deficiencies in conduct, counseling or oral warnings may prove to be effective. The conversation should include thorough review of the problem, how expectations for employee conduct have not been met, what is expected of the employee and why. The employee should be given an opportunity to explain the reasons for the conduct, and offered suggestions for improvement.
A written record of the counseling or oral warning session should be made. This record should be retained by the supervisor at the departmental level.
A written reprimand may be issued due to the seriousness of an offense or if prior counseling has not produced the desired result. The written notice must:
- be labeled as a written reprimand
- state the rules violated, or misconduct which has necessitated the disciplinary action
- state ways deficiencies in conduct may be overcome
- state the period of time the employee will be given to improve, and
- state the possible consequences if satisfactory improvement is not made.
The employee should be asked to sign the written reprimand, acknowledging receipt and understanding. In the event an employee refuses or prefers not to sign the document, appropriate notation should be made and initialed by the supervisor.
An employee should be allowed to explain their actions and may provide a written response to the written reprimand. Both documents will be sent to the employee's personnel file. It is not necessary that the disciplinary action be held pending the receipt of the employees comments.
A suspension may be issued if repetition of an offense occurs for which a written reprimand has been given, or if a violation of rules or policies occurs that is serious but for which dismissal is not appropriate.
Prior to suspension, the department chair must give authorization for such action unless the seriousness of the conduct or rule violation calls for immediate action. Human Resources should be contacted to review the circumstances surrounding an infraction that may involve suspension.
The written notice must:
- be labeled as a notice of suspension without pay
- explain the policies or rules violated, or other actions necessitating the suspension
- give the specific dates of the suspension
- give the corrective actions necessary, and
- give the possible consequences of a recurrence.
The employee should be asked to sign the suspension, acknowledging receipt and understanding. In the event, an employee refuses or prefers not to sign the document, appropriate notation should be made and initialed by the supervisor. A copy of the University grievance policy should be provided to the employee.
An employee should be allowed to explain their actions and may provide a written response to the suspension. Both documents will be sent to the employee's personnel file. It is not necessary that the suspension action be held pending the receipt of the employee's comments.
An employee may be dismissed for repeated misconduct or rules violation. However, the Division of Human resources strongly encourages you to contact the Employee Relations Office prior to dismissing any employee, unless the seriousness of the violation calls for immediate action. Human Resources will review the circumstances surrounding any situation that may involve dismissal.
The written notice must be labeled as notice of dismissal and state the disciplinary steps relating to any prior violation of policy and/or rules, misconduct or other actions necessitating dismissal. The employee should be asked to sign the notice of dismissal to acknowledge receipt. In the event, an employee refuses or prefers not to sign the document, appropriate notation should be made and initialed by the supervisor. A copy of the HR grievance policy [pdf] should be provided to the employee.
In addition to disciplinary procedures, in any matters involving theft or unauthorized use of University equipment or property, or other misappropriation of University assets, which may not be limited to cash, equipment or supplies, the supervisor must contact either the Division of Human Resources, Office of the General Counsel or Law Enforcement and Safety, who will after consulting with each other and reviewing the facts determine whether possible criminal prosecution will be made.
For detailed information, refer to HR 1.39, Disciplinary Action and Termination for Cause [pdf].
Lead by Example
All disciplinary actions should be by constructive, consistent measures and never used as a punitive reaction to employee behavior. In leading by example, supervisors need to be aware of their own conduct, attitude and work habits.