5.1.4 Disciplinary Procedure

Policy Section: Conditions of Employment

Policy Number and Title: 5.1.4 Disciplinary Procedure
Applicable to: All Regular Employees
Effective Date: May 3, 2004

Policy Description

It is the University's expectation that all employees will conduct themselves according to generally accepted standards of conduct and performance. When employees do not meet these standards, it is the supervisor's responsibility to act in a timely manner and initiate a program of disciplinary steps to address the problem. Examples of situations which may require the supervisor to take immediate action include, but are not limited to, fighting in the workplace, theft, refusal to perform work, excessive absenteeism or chronic tardiness.
 
This policy presents the basic principles and procedures of a system of progressive discipline which is intended to ensure that all employees are treated as consistently and fairly as possible throughout the University.
The disciplinary program has four major purposes:
  1. to ensure that the employee knows what the problem is;
  2. to communicate what the supervisor's expectations are in order for the employee to correct the problem;
  3. to provide appropriate penalties for improper work conduct; and
  4. to provide a record of corrective action taken by supervisors in such problem situations.
In discipline cases where there is a union agreement, the procedures in the union contract are to be followed.

Application of this Policy

Progressive Discipline
Preliminary Actions
Prior to moving to formal discipline the supervisor should do the following:
  1. Do a thorough fact-finding, which includes collection of all information and applicable records.
  2. Hold a discussion in private with the employee. During the discussion the supervisor should state the problem clearly and allow the employee to respond.
  3. Follow up with the employee after the meeting and after all information has been gathered, to report the findings. If the supervisor intends to move to formal discipline, the employee should be told at the conclusion of the follow-up meeting or as soon after as possible. It should be made clear to the employee which level or step of the discipline process is being applied.
  4. Provide a follow up letter as soon after the meeting as possible. The letter should include the date and time of the follow-up meeting, a brief statement of the problem, the supervisor's expectations, and the conclusion reached in the meeting. The stage of discipline must be clearly noted and a statement made that lack of improvement will result in further discipline.
Steps of Progressive Discipline
There are four steps in the progressive discipline process; however, in cases of misconduct or repeated infractions, the process may be shortened and the supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources, may move directly to a later step in the process, including termination.
 
All disciplinary action should be taken within a reasonable time frame it is recommended that no more than two days elapse between the time the supervisor learns or has knowledge of the offense and the action is taken.
 
Oral Warning
Oral warnings are appropriate for minor first offenses. It is important that supervisors not overuse the oral warning for the same type of offense no more than two oral warnings should be given.
 
The supervisor should have a full discussion with the employee before giving the warning to ensure that the employee has the opportunity to respond or to give additional information. If the supervisor believes that an oral warning is appropriate, it should be made clear to the employee that the oral warning is the first step in the progressive discipline process. The oral warning should be documented for the supervisor's record and it is recommended that a note summarizing the warning be given to the employee. The record and note should record the date, time and reason for the warning.
 
The oral warning remains in effect for 18 months.
 
Written Warning
Written Warning. After an employee has received an oral warning, a subsequent offense should be addressed by a written reprimand as appropriate. Supervisors must review the draft of the written reprimand with the Office of Human Resources. The supervisor and employee first meet to discuss the problem. In the discussion, the supervisor must review the incident or performance problem which requires the reprimand and the supervisor and employee should exchange ideas and information regarding solution(s) to the problem. The written reprimand should be given to the employee directly following the discussion, with copies to the Office of Human Resources and the employee's official personnel file.
 
The written warning should:
  • Be identified as a disciplinary warning;
  • Describe as specifically as possible the situation which prompted the warning; including day, date, time, location, and what the supervisor saw or heard;
  • Indicate why the behavior or performance is unacceptable;
  • Review the decisions that were reached during the discussion regarding how the employee would correct the problem;
  • State that if the behavior continues or other problems occur, additional corrective measures may be taken, which may result in termination of employment.
If the written warning is given without a prior discussion regarding the incident between the supervisor and employee, the supervisor should discuss the matter with the employee when giving the employee the warning.
 
Written warnings are retained in the employee's formal record for 18 months.
 
Suspension
Suspension. Suspension is the third step of the disciplinary procedure. It is intended to indicate to the employee the seriousness of the infraction and that the employee can reasonably expect that the next step is termination of employment.
 
Before determining if an employee should be suspended, the supervisor must meet with the employee to discuss the incident or problem and consult with the Office of Human Resources.
 
The employee should be notified in writing of the suspension as soon as possible. The letter should outline the reason for the suspension and the dates of the suspension. Suspensions are normally for one (1) to three (3) consecutive work days and the dates are determined by the manager in consultation with Human Resources. Longer suspensions because of severe infractions may be given and scheduled at the convenience of management. The employee should be warned that continuation of the behavior may result in termination of employment.
 
Normally suspensions are without pay, although if an investigation of events is necessary the employee may be suspended with pay, pending results of the investigation. Supervisors should consult with the Office of Human Resources regarding pay. There may be instances when a final written warning may be more appropriate, and may, upon consultation with the Office of Human Resources, substitute for a suspension (for example when discipline is for a pattern of absenteeism).
 
Termination
Termination of employment is the culmination of the progressive discipline process or the penalty for very serious offenses. Whenever possible, the Office of Human Resources should conduct a pre-termination hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to review with the employee's supervisor and the employee, the past record and any new circumstances leading to the supervisor's request to terminate. (See: 4.2.3 Termination for Failure to Comply with University Policy [Misconduct/Cause].)
Contacts
Office of Human Resources
(609) 258-3300