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Employee Relations Overview

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    1. Employee Relations Overview Good Morning/Afternoon My name is __________ and Im an Employee Relations Specialist with the ARS, Administrative and Financial Management, Human Resources Division, Employee Relations Branch. Today I would like to provide you with an overview of what we do in the Employee Relations Branch, the basic functions of Employee Relations, and the basic rights and responsibilities of both management and employees.Good Morning/Afternoon My name is __________ and Im an Employee Relations Specialist with the ARS, Administrative and Financial Management, Human Resources Division, Employee Relations Branch. Today I would like to provide you with an overview of what we do in the Employee Relations Branch, the basic functions of Employee Relations, and the basic rights and responsibilities of both management and employees.

    2. In your packet, you should have a brochure that explains each of the 5 basic functions of the Employee Relations Branch. They are Employee Relations, Ethics, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Labor Relations, and Policy The Employee Relations Branch provides these services, not only to ARS, but to all the REE mission area agencies, which includes ARS, NASS, ERS, and CSREESIn your packet, you should have a brochure that explains each of the 5 basic functions of the Employee Relations Branch. They are Employee Relations, Ethics, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Labor Relations, and Policy The Employee Relations Branch provides these services, not only to ARS, but to all the REE mission area agencies, which includes ARS, NASS, ERS, and CSREES

    3. Employee Relations Helps management set and enforce high standards of behavior and performance (Conduct and Performance) Ensures employee rights are not violated Employee Relations is a management function Later on in my presentation, I will get more in-depth into the functions of Employee Relations. But, basically, Employee Relations Specialists help management set and enforce high standards of behavior and performance, we often phrase these in terms of conduct and performance. We also ensure that employee rights are not violated. It is important to understand, however, that Employee Relations, like other areas of personnel management, is a management function. An Employee Relations Specialist is not a neutral party. He or she is a management advocate, but still responsible for telling management when it is in danger of violating employee rights, and responsible for informing employees of their rights.Later on in my presentation, I will get more in-depth into the functions of Employee Relations. But, basically, Employee Relations Specialists help management set and enforce high standards of behavior and performance, we often phrase these in terms of conduct and performance. We also ensure that employee rights are not violated. It is important to understand, however, that Employee Relations, like other areas of personnel management, is a management function. An Employee Relations Specialist is not a neutral party. He or she is a management advocate, but still responsible for telling management when it is in danger of violating employee rights, and responsible for informing employees of their rights.

    4. Ethics Program Manages REE Ethics Program, ensuring that all employees are in conformance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 C.F.R. 2635 In the Employee Relations Branch, we have an Ethics Program staff that manages the REE Ethics program, ensuring that all employees are in conformance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. They provide advice and counsel on ethics-related issues to supervisors, managers and employees. In the ______area, you have an Area Ethics Advisor, ___________. If you have specific questions or concerns, you should first address them to _________, who should be able to help you with your question or find the answer for you. In the Employee Relations Branch, we have an Ethics Program staff that manages the REE Ethics program, ensuring that all employees are in conformance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. They provide advice and counsel on ethics-related issues to supervisors, managers and employees. In the ______area, you have an Area Ethics Advisor, ___________. If you have specific questions or concerns, you should first address them to _________, who should be able to help you with your question or find the answer for you.

    5. Cooperative Resolution Program Voluntary mediation program Any employee, supervisor, or manager can request mediation Trained mediator serves as impartial party Mediation process is confidential Parties involved cooperate to create a workable solution Benefits: Each side gains an understanding of the other, less time lost, less disruption to work, avoids decision imposed by a third party, costly litigation The Cooperative Resolution Program is a voluntary mediation program. It is open to all employees, supervisors and managers. They have trained mediators who serve as an impartial party to bring the parties together in mediation. The mediation process is confidential. The parties involved cooperate to create a workable solution, which is recorded in writing and signed by all parties. Some of the benefits of Cooperative Resolution are that hopefully both parties will gain an understanding of the other sides point of view, which leads to less time lost, less disruption at work, avoids decisions imposed by a third party and costly litigation. You should have a brochure on the Cooperative Resolution Program in your packet. On the back of the brochure, we have listed Pat Fricks phone number where you can call for information on the Cooperative Resolution Program or to set up mediation. Pat Frick is our Cooperative Resolution Manager and she should be able to help you with what you need.The Cooperative Resolution Program is a voluntary mediation program. It is open to all employees, supervisors and managers. They have trained mediators who serve as an impartial party to bring the parties together in mediation. The mediation process is confidential. The parties involved cooperate to create a workable solution, which is recorded in writing and signed by all parties. Some of the benefits of Cooperative Resolution are that hopefully both parties will gain an understanding of the other sides point of view, which leads to less time lost, less disruption at work, avoids decisions imposed by a third party and costly litigation. You should have a brochure on the Cooperative Resolution Program in your packet. On the back of the brochure, we have listed Pat Fricks phone number where you can call for information on the Cooperative Resolution Program or to set up mediation. Pat Frick is our Cooperative Resolution Manager and she should be able to help you with what you need.

    6. Labor Relations Labor Relations Program includes contract management, negotiations, partnerships, impact and implementation bargaining, and arbitration Represent and serve as an advisor to management during union contract negotiations _____________ does/does not have a union so you may/may not be interested in the Labor Relations program. Basically, labor relations includes contract management, negotiations, partnerships, impact and implementation bargaining,and arbitration. Our Labor Relations specialist, Ann Bridges, represents and serves as an advisor to management during union contract negotiations._____________ does/does not have a union so you may/may not be interested in the Labor Relations program. Basically, labor relations includes contract management, negotiations, partnerships, impact and implementation bargaining,and arbitration. Our Labor Relations specialist, Ann Bridges, represents and serves as an advisor to management during union contract negotiations.

    7. Policy Initiates employee relations policy Develops training and communications Provides investigative leadership Provides guidance and service in preparation and presentation before third parties We also have a policy function in our branch that initiates employee relations policy for all the REE mission areas, develops training and communications, adjudicates grievances, and provides investigative leadership. The policy function also provides guidance and service in preparation and presentation before third parties.We also have a policy function in our branch that initiates employee relations policy for all the REE mission areas, develops training and communications, adjudicates grievances, and provides investigative leadership. The policy function also provides guidance and service in preparation and presentation before third parties.

    8. BASIC EMPLOYEE RELATIONS FUNCTIONS Now that weve had a quick overview of the different functions within the Employee Relations Branch, it is time look more in-depth at the basic Employee Relations functions.Now that weve had a quick overview of the different functions within the Employee Relations Branch, it is time look more in-depth at the basic Employee Relations functions.

    9. Performance vs. Conduct Performance: A failure to perform the duties of a position at an acceptable level of quantity, quality, or timeliness Conduct: A failure or refusal to comply with a rule, regulation, or requirement For the most part, Employee Relations deals with Performance and Conduct problems. Discuss importance of differentiating Performance vs. Conduct. That is, there are different remedies for correcting the problem. Discuss differences between Performance and Conduct.For the most part, Employee Relations deals with Performance and Conduct problems. Discuss importance of differentiating Performance vs. Conduct. That is, there are different remedies for correcting the problem. Discuss differences between Performance and Conduct.

    10. What is Performance? How well an employee is doing his or her work Measured against appropriate Performance Standards, which define expectations Review slideReview slide

    11. Performance Standards Identify at Fully Successful level Should be: attainable, realistic, job related, in writing and measure quality, quantity, and/or expected results Rate performance against standards December 31 or March 31 OR When performance falls below Fully Successful Review slideReview slide

    12. Remedies for Performance Problems Supervisory counseling, linking instances of poor performance to performance standards Closer supervision, on-going supervisory feedback, training, and supplemental work instructions Delay of promotion, non-promotion Reassignment Denial of Within-grade Increase (WIGI) Formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

    13. Performance Improvement Plans PIP letter identifies: Critical job element involved Specific instances of unacceptable performance Work that must be completed successfully for the employee to demonstrate fully successful performance Assistance that Agency will provide

    14. When an employee fails a PIP Reassignment Demotion Removal

    15. What is Conduct? An employees behavior, bearing, and attitude as reflected in his or her observable actions Measured against conduct rules, standards, instructions, and expectations

    16. Examples of Unacceptable Behavior to document for Disciplinary Action Falsification of official documents Misuse of government-owned or leased vehicles (30 day susp) Unauthorized removal of government-owned property Failure or refusal to comply with instructions Use of insulting or threatening language Reporting for duty under the influence of drugs or intoxicants Being under the influence of drugs or intoxicants while on official duty Negligence in performing official duties AWOL Excessive tardiness Immoral conduct including sexual harassment Some examples of unacceptable behavior brought our attention are: (Review list on screen) Naturally, this list is not all-inclusive. It would be almost impossible to list everything. When it comes down to it, employees may be subject to discipline for any unacceptable behavior that impedes the efficiency of the ServiceSome examples of unacceptable behavior brought our attention are: (Review list on screen) Naturally, this list is not all-inclusive. It would be almost impossible to list everything. When it comes down to it, employees may be subject to discipline for any unacceptable behavior that impedes the efficiency of the Service

    17. Remedies for Conduct Problems Supervisory counseling, linking specific instances of misconduct to rules or well-defined managerial expectations Closer supervision, immediate supervisory feedback, changes in working conditions Clear warnings (oral/written) Disciplinary actions I talked about the remedies for correcting performance problems. The remedies for correcting conduct problems are similar, but slightly different. Again, we start the process of correcting conduct problems with supervisory counseling and providing closer supervision, and issuing clear warnings. If those measures are ineffective, or if the misconduct is serious enough to warrant stronger action, disciplinary action may be necessary. I talked about the remedies for correcting performance problems. The remedies for correcting conduct problems are similar, but slightly different. Again, we start the process of correcting conduct problems with supervisory counseling and providing closer supervision, and issuing clear warnings. If those measures are ineffective, or if the misconduct is serious enough to warrant stronger action, disciplinary action may be necessary.

    18. Corrective Steps Progressive Discipline Informal Measures Verbal Warning Written Warning Formal Measures Letter of Reprimand Short Suspension (14 days or less) Long Suspension (more than 14 days) Removal Demotion (Rarely Used) We try to employ, what is called Progressive Discipline which essentially means that we start with the lowest level of discipline that management feels is necessary to correct the behavior, and then move on to more severe sanctions if the behavior is not corrected. The focus here is on correcting behavior, rather than punishing employees. As you can see, with progressive discipline, we move through various levels from verbal and written warnings, which are informal measures, to reprimands, short suspensions, long suspensions, and eventually removal, which are all formal measures. You can see that demotion is a possibilitiy, however, it is rarely used because it is usually not appropriate as a measure to correct behavior. Also, it is important to know that it is not always necessary to move through each of the successive measures before getting to more severe discipline, like a suspension or a removal. If the behavior is serious enough, it may be necessary to move directly to a suspension or a removal.We try to employ, what is called Progressive Discipline which essentially means that we start with the lowest level of discipline that management feels is necessary to correct the behavior, and then move on to more severe sanctions if the behavior is not corrected. The focus here is on correcting behavior, rather than punishing employees. As you can see, with progressive discipline, we move through various levels from verbal and written warnings, which are informal measures, to reprimands, short suspensions, long suspensions, and eventually removal, which are all formal measures. You can see that demotion is a possibilitiy, however, it is rarely used because it is usually not appropriate as a measure to correct behavior. Also, it is important to know that it is not always necessary to move through each of the successive measures before getting to more severe discipline, like a suspension or a removal. If the behavior is serious enough, it may be necessary to move directly to a suspension or a removal.

    19. Penalty Decision Douglas Factors Seriousness of the act Past disciplinary measures The clarity with which the employee was on notice of rules Type of job and position of the employee Employees past work record Consistency of penalty (others, Table of Penalties) Mitigating circumstances So, how does a manager decide on what penalty is appropriate? Well, the Merit Systems Protection Board has identified, in the landmark case, Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 12 Factors that must be considered in determining the appropriate penalty for a disciplinary offense. In your packets you should have a list of the 12 Douglas Factors as they are commonly called. If you are interested, you may look at those when you get a chance. Just to give you an idea, some of the more significant factors that a manager considers when determining the appropriate penalty are: (read the list from the overhead)So, how does a manager decide on what penalty is appropriate? Well, the Merit Systems Protection Board has identified, in the landmark case, Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 12 Factors that must be considered in determining the appropriate penalty for a disciplinary offense. In your packets you should have a list of the 12 Douglas Factors as they are commonly called. If you are interested, you may look at those when you get a chance. Just to give you an idea, some of the more significant factors that a manager considers when determining the appropriate penalty are: (read the list from the overhead)

    20. Dealing with Performance and Conduct Problems Action Plan: Call Employee Relations Get the facts Determine whether the problem is conduct, performance, or both Identify appropriate alternatives of action Implement chosen action Evaluate and follow up Review slide.Review slide.

    21. Key Points for the Disciplinary Process Incident Occurs Contact Employee Relations Investigate Document Proposal or Reprimand Letter Douglas Factors Decision Grievance/Appeal

    22. Why Remedies Fail Lack of adequate or accurate documentation Employee not clearly on notice as to what is expected Lack of effective or timely managerial follow through Problem misidentified and/or inappropriate remedy applied Disparity of treatment between employees Violation of law, regulation, policy, or labor agreement

    23. Points to Ponder The object of any conduct or performance action should be remedial, not punitive Success should NOT be defined as termination although it is sometimes the only option Success is turning around an employee who is jeopardizing their future and the organizations performance

    24. Medical Issues Help identify where conduct and performance problems caused by medical ailments Request for Medical Documentation Dealing with medical issues - - fitness for duty exams, etc. Help identify Reasonable Accommodations for employee medical problems As an Employee Relations Specialist, I also help supervisors and managers deal with medical issues. Sometimes conduct and performance problems are caused by medical ailments. I help identify those situations. Sometimes it is necessary to request medical documentation from employees. Sometimes, and only under specific conditions, it is necessary to order fitness for duty exams. I also help supervisors and managers to identify and implement reasonable accommodations for employee medical problems.As an Employee Relations Specialist, I also help supervisors and managers deal with medical issues. Sometimes conduct and performance problems are caused by medical ailments. I help identify those situations. Sometimes it is necessary to request medical documentation from employees. Sometimes, and only under specific conditions, it is necessary to order fitness for duty exams. I also help supervisors and managers to identify and implement reasonable accommodations for employee medical problems.

    25. Reasonable Accommodation Reasonable Approved use of leave Modified work schedule Reassignment to another established position Change in the way the work is performed Un-Reasonable Eliminate critical duties Create a new position Open-ended work schedule With the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are hearing more about the term Reasonable Accomodation. Under the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or emloyee, unless [the Agency] can demonstrate that the accomodation would impose undue hardship. The key word is REASONABLE Some examples of Reasonable Accommodation .... It is NOT Reasonable to expect the agency to .....With the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are hearing more about the term Reasonable Accomodation. Under the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or emloyee, unless [the Agency] can demonstrate that the accomodation would impose undue hardship. The key word is REASONABLE Some examples of Reasonable Accommodation .... It is NOT Reasonable to expect the agency to .....

    26. Management Rights and Responsibilities vs Employee Rights and Responsibilities In essence, Employee Relations deals with the covergence of employee and management rights and responsibilities in the workplace.In essence, Employee Relations deals with the covergence of employee and management rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

    27. Management Obligations to Employees A job Pay for time worked A safe and healthy worksite A worksite free of illegal discrimination The right to form, join, and participate in a Union The right to grieve, appeal, complain, petition, protest, and gripe Management has several obligations to employees. (Read list on slide)Management has several obligations to employees. (Read list on slide)

    28. Employee Obligations to Management To come to work To obey the written and unwritten rules To be ready, willing, and able to work To perform at the fully classified job level To work safely To meet performance criteria established by management To give information To obey orders By the same token, employees have several obligations to management. (Read list on slide)By the same token, employees have several obligations to management. (Read list on slide)

    29. Management Residual Rights Management has the right to assign work, and direct the work of their organization Management has the right to create a rule or policy if a situation is not governed by existing rules. - Management must follow existing rules -Rules must not be arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion When it comes to management rights, what it boils down to is that management has the right to make the rules or policies of the workplace. Of course, that is within the framework of applicable laws and regulations. If a rule already exists, mangement must follow it. The main Rule about setting rules, is that the rules must not be arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. When it comes to management rights, what it boils down to is that management has the right to make the rules or policies of the workplace. Of course, that is within the framework of applicable laws and regulations. If a rule already exists, mangement must follow it. The main Rule about setting rules, is that the rules must not be arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion.

    30. Employee Rights Due Process: Employees must be notified of Agencys intention, with specific reasons Employees must be afforded an opportunity to respond (15 days or 30 days) Decision to be made after consideration of all facts available, including employee response May appeal adverse actions (more than 14-day suspension, removal, performance based actions). So, what is the due process that employees are entitled to? Basically, before an employee can be suspended or removed,the employee must be notified of the Agencys intention, and given the specific reasons as to why the Agency intends to do whatever they intend to to. The employee must be afforded an opportunity to respond. Typically for suspensions of 14 days or less, employees are provided 15 days to respond to the charges, for longer suspensions and removals, employees are provided 30 days. The last step of the due process is that the decision is made only after consideration of all available facts, including the employees response. Employees also have a right to appeal any adverse actions that are taken against them, from suspensions of more than 14 days to removal, to the Merit Systems Protection Board.So, what is the due process that employees are entitled to? Basically, before an employee can be suspended or removed,the employee must be notified of the Agencys intention, and given the specific reasons as to why the Agency intends to do whatever they intend to to. The employee must be afforded an opportunity to respond. Typically for suspensions of 14 days or less, employees are provided 15 days to respond to the charges, for longer suspensions and removals, employees are provided 30 days. The last step of the due process is that the decision is made only after consideration of all available facts, including the employees response. Employees also have a right to appeal any adverse actions that are taken against them, from suspensions of more than 14 days to removal, to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

    31. Employee Rights Grievance Negotiated Grievance Procedure Administrative Grievance Procedure EEO Complaint Appeal Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Limited to Adverse Actions Employees have the right to grieve anything over which management has control. This includes discipline of suspensions of 14 days or less, and reprimands. Non-bargaining unit employees, which are employees who are not covered by a union contract, must follow the Administrative Grievance System. Bargaining unit employees, which are employees who are covered by union contract, must follow the Negotiated Grievance Procedures outlined in the contract. Employees also have the right to file a complaint of discrimination with the Department if they feel they have been discriminated against. It is important to be aware that appeals, grievances and complaints will not be processed simultaneously in different forums. Wherever the employee files first, will be considered an election to proceed in that forum. Employees have the right to grieve anything over which management has control. This includes discipline of suspensions of 14 days or less, and reprimands. Non-bargaining unit employees, which are employees who are not covered by a union contract, must follow the Administrative Grievance System. Bargaining unit employees, which are employees who are covered by union contract, must follow the Negotiated Grievance Procedures outlined in the contract. Employees also have the right to file a complaint of discrimination with the Department if they feel they have been discriminated against. It is important to be aware that appeals, grievances and complaints will not be processed simultaneously in different forums. Wherever the employee files first, will be considered an election to proceed in that forum.

    32. Exceptions Probationary and temporary employees Excepted Service employees with less than two years continuous work in same or similar position Crime Provision - limits advanced written notice from 30 days to 7 days. There are a few exceptions wherein some employees do not enjoy all of the rights Ive just described. Probationary employees, temporary employees, and some excepted service employees are not entitled to the due process I have described. While they can grieve management actions, they are not entitled to raise their case to the Merit Systems Protection Board in most cases. They are also not usually afforded a notice period before they are removed. In addition, there is the crime provision. Under the crime provision, when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed, the time period for the employee to respond to any proposed adverse action is limited to 7 days. There are a few exceptions wherein some employees do not enjoy all of the rights Ive just described. Probationary employees, temporary employees, and some excepted service employees are not entitled to the due process I have described. While they can grieve management actions, they are not entitled to raise their case to the Merit Systems Protection Board in most cases. They are also not usually afforded a notice period before they are removed. In addition, there is the crime provision. Under the crime provision, when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed, the time period for the employee to respond to any proposed adverse action is limited to 7 days.

    33. Employee Relations Overview Well, that wraps up my discussion on Employee Relations. Id like to open the floor for any questions..... Thank you for the opportunity to come and speak with you today Well, that wraps up my discussion on Employee Relations. Id like to open the floor for any questions..... Thank you for the opportunity to come and speak with you today