Employee Relations (HR-600)
One of the primary objectives of supervision is to ensure prompt, efficient and courteous service to the public. To meet this goal supervisors are responsible for training, assisting, motivating, directing and correcting behavior of staff. In any organization it is essential that certain standards of personal conduct and work performance be maintained. Most people prefer to work in an orderly environment and will readily conform to reasonable rules of conduct and standards of performance as long as they understand what is expected of them. Supervisors are responsible for informing their subordinates of management's expectations. Where problems with employee behavior or performance arise, a supervisor should seek to correct the problem with the least amount of disruption to the work environment. Discipline is a means to correct employee behavior and performance. This information addresses both progressive discipline and summary discharge.
Progressive discipline is utilized for regular, non-probationary employees and may include oral warning, written warning, suspension, and ultimately discharge. Exempt employees are not typically subject to progressive discipline (all registered nurses performing direct patient care in a non-supervisory capacity will be treated as nonexempt employees).
The goals of progressive discipline are to: inform the employee of inadequacies in performance or instances of improper behavior; clarify what constitutes satisfactory performance or behavior; instruct the employee on what action must be taken to correct the performance or behavior problem; and inform the employee of what action will be taken in the future if the expectations are not met.
There are several levels of disciplinary action, each progressively more serious, which may be used to correct employee performance and behavior. Assistance is available from Human Resource Services. These steps include:
Oral Warning - An employee may be issued an oral warning for a performance or behavior problem. Oral warnings are typically issued during a private conference between the supervisor and the employee where the supervisor explains the problem and what the employee must do to return to satisfactory status. Supervisory notes to the file are permissible and in most cases appropriate. The employee should be informed that the conference is being conducted for the purpose of issuing an oral warning. This ensures that the employee is aware that disciplinary action is taking place.
Written Warning - Employees may be issued a written warning as a letter or memo which contains the following information: a description of the specific problem or offense; the most recent incident and when it occurred; previous actions taken to correct the problem (if applicable); expectations and acceptable standards of performance; and warning that further unsatisfactory behavior or performance may result in further disciplinary action. Typically the written warning is issued and discussed with the employee in private conference with the supervisor. A copy of the written warning should be given to the employee and a copy placed in the employee's official personnel record. The written warning may also specify a review period, if appropriate, in which the employee's behavior or performance will be reviewed.
Suspension - Nonexempt employees may be suspended without pay for incidents which are serious enough to warrant summary suspension, or after less severe disciplinary actions have been taken. The duration of the suspension should be commensurate with the offense. Typically the employee is informed of the suspension in private conference with his/her supervisor. The employee is given a letter detailing the basis for the action which specifies: the length of the suspension (beginning and ending dates); a description of the specific problem or offense; the most recent incident and when it occurred; previous actions taken to correct the problem, if applicable; expectations and acceptable standards of performance; and a warning that further unsatisfactory behavior or performance may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. The suspension letter may also specify a review period, if appropriate, in which the employee's behavior or performance will be reviewed. Exempt status employees may be suspended in increments of one workday for inappropriate or illegal conduct. Additional information and assistance is available from Human Resource Services.
Discharge - Employees may be discharged for incidents which are serious enough to warrant summary discharge, or after less severe disciplinary actions have been taken. It is advisable to discharge an employee in private conference with his/her supervisor and other appropriate levels of supervision. During this conference the employee is usually given a letter or a memorandum clearly stating the effective date of discharge. When allegations are serious enough to merit summary discharge, it is usually advisable to suspend an employee, pending investigation. This suspension is for the purpose of investigating the problem and conferring with appropriate officials regarding the decision to discharge, and should be so communicated to the employee.
Summary discharge is the disciplinary action that occurs without prior warnings or attempts at progressive discipline due to the seriousness of the incident. This would include, but not be limited to, theft, intoxication on the job, violence or threat of violence, conviction of a felony, and negligent, careless or intentional performance that results in damage to property or individuals or the risk thereof. This action may become necessary when incidents which in and of themselves are so serious as to justify immediate summary discharge, or performance problems which are determined to be due to skill deficiency rather than rule violations or neglect of duty. In cases where reasonable attempts at training fail to correct the problem, the employee may be discharged without prior disciplinary action.
Date Created: 9/1/05
Last Updated: 3/1/07