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Progressive Discipline & Proper Documentation Presented by: Melissa McIntosh, Affirmative Action & Rose Costello, Human Resources Date: October 2007
Progressive Discipline & Documentation • Housekeeping Items • Requested topics? • Questions and dialog are encouraged, however, some questions may have to be “parked” and discussed later. • Sign In Sheets • Training Evaluations
Learning Objectives • How to Diffuse Disciplinary Issues Proactively • Employee Relations • Performance Management • Practical Tips for Successful Progressive Discipline • How to Handle Terminations
Learning Objectivescont’d • Documentation, Documentation, Documentation • How the Formal Complaint Process Works • Required Information for EEO Responses • Legal Standards
Proactive instead of Reactive • Employee Relations • Performance Management • Progressive Discipline
Proactive: Employee Relations • Treat ALL people with: • Dignity • Courtesy • Respect • Fairness and • Ethics
Proactive: Employee Relations • Poor employee relations may result in: • Absenteeism • Poor performance • Low morale • Turnover • Litigation
Preventive MeasuresWhat else can you do to be Proactive instead of Reactive?
Proactive: Performance Management • Determine major job duties • Job Descriptions • Define performance standards • Communicate performance & behavior expectations • Provide orientation to new employees • Establish priorities for each employees • Have written policies, procedures and work rules
Proactive: Performance Management • Establish a climate of communication • Open door policy • Provide on-going coaching and feedback • Hold performance discussions • Document job performance • Evaluate job performance • Provide effective training & resources
Common Discipline Issues • Performance Problems • Behavior Problems
Common Discipline Issues • Performance Problems • Performance issues are not always completely within the employee’s control • Poor productivity • Failing to meet performance standards
Common Discipline Issues • Behavior Problems • Behavior problems are usually completely within the employee’s control • Misconduct • Negligence • Insubordination • Poor Attendance
Progressive Discipline: What is it? • A system of increasingly severe penalties for each time an employee is disciplined for any of the following during an active period. • Same situation • Similar situation • Serious • Series-bundling
Goals of Progressive Discipline • Correct undesirable conduct, rather than simply punish • Communicate problem issues directly, and in a timely fashion • Invite employees to participate in the problem solving process
Goals of Progressive Discipline • Prove that you made an effort to rehabilitate employees before the ultimate decision to terminate. • Demonstrate no other alternative but to terminate the employee because they refused to accept our “invitation” to improve their performance.
Progressive Discipline Steps • Coaching/Review Expectations/Problem • Verbal Reprimand • Written Reprimand • Suspension • Termination
Proactive: Coaching & Re-establishing Expectations • Goal is to resolve the problem before it progresses any further • Address minor infractions now, helps to prevent major problems later • Establish a two way communication • Clearly identify substandard performance or behaviors.
Step 1: Verbal Reprimand • Initial formal communication to an employee • Discussion needs to include: • Specific incident • Time and place of incident • Effects of the incident • Set Expectations • Possible consequences if behavior/performance does not improve • Follow the verbal reprimand with a confirming memo
Step 2: Written Reprimand • Last chance agreement • Breach of final written warnings results in discharge • A final warning offers few alternatives
Step 2: Written Reprimand • A written reprimand should contain the following: • Prior disciplinary action for the same/similar offense • Avoid listing anything over a year old that is not for the same offense • Statement of facts • date, time, place of incident • description of what happened
Step 2: Written Reprimand • Statement of the policy, procedure or rule that was violated • Actual or potential consequences of the offense • Cost to the university, fellow workers or others • Burden on you or other employees • Hazard to employee fellow workers and others • Contribution to a lack of harmony and cooperation in the workforce
Step 2: Written Reprimand • Possible consequences should performance not improve • State the possible consequences should poor performance and/or behavior continue, as well as emphasizing the opportunity for the employee to achieve the level of proper behavior or performance expected • Follow up date • Signature of supervisor and employee and date issued
Step 2: Written Reprimand Work Improvement Plan • Usually 60-90 working days for employee • depending on the type of improvement that is required. • ”Failure to improve as outlined in this letter by xyz date may result in further disciplinary actions, including termination.”
Step 4: Suspension of Employment • Normally used during investigation of facts • Provides “breathing space” to deal with what appears to be a serious misconduct. • Allows time for consultation with higher levels of authority who are not readily available.
Step 4: Suspension of Employment • Never terminate on the spot even if the employee has seemingly made a dischargeable offense, instead investigate. • Collect evidence from both sides of the story and get HR involved. • During interviews a more relaxed approach will gather more information. • Investigate within 48 to 72 hours after the event. • Make sure that other employees have been treated in the same way in other similar circumstances.
Step 4: Suspension of Employment • Last means of corrective disciplinary action prior to discharge. • Normal length should not exceed 3 working days (Tues, Wed and Thurs) • Non-working and non-paid status of employment • Employee does not accrue vacation, sick leave, or holiday
Step 4: Suspension of Employment • A suspension letter should include • Review of past disciplinary action, if any • Specific reason for suspension • Expected behavior or performance • That suspension is their last warning • Further violation may result in discharge • The length of suspension • The date and time the employee is to resume work
Step 5: Termination • Never terminate on the spot • Suspend the employee “…subject to discharge pending further investigation.” • Get all the facts first to make sure your investigation is thorough, complete, and well documented. • Pinpoint the reason of the discharge
Step 5: Termination • Advise your supervisor and HR before termination • Have another supervisor with you when employee is told • Following appropriate disciplinary measures help support a legally defensible practice.
Step 5: Termination • The last resort • Used for repeated occurrences or severe violations • Give an employee the opportunity to be heard prior to making a final decision to terminate – due process
Step 5: Termination • Letter of discharge should include: • Reason for discharge • Review of prior disciplinary action • Effective date of termination • Secure or arrange the return of any keys, tools, clothing, books, parking permit, staff identification, and other IPFW property.
Step 5: Termination • Obtain forwarding address for use in sending the year end Tax Forms • Arrange removal of the employee’s personal items from the workplace At conclusion of meeting, employee should immediately leave the University premises • Complete all needed forms
Step 5: Termination • Separation Pay Policy • Termination effective date of meeting • Final paycheck will include separation pay plus payment for any unused personal holiday/vacation • Contact Staff Benefits about retirement benefits • Medical coverage ends on date of termination • Employee will receive information about COBRA via mail
The EEOC complaint process • Metro • EEOC
EEOC Complaints • A complaint alleging that the employment action was taken because of a person’s status in a legally protected class. • Protected classes include age, race, religion, national origin, color, sex, or disability. With Metro, on a limited basis, sexual orientation.
EEOC complaint process • What Happens? • Letter is received. • Documents are gathered. • Interviews are conducted. • Response is drafted. • Response is submitted to WL and Counsel. • Response is submitted to EEOC/Metro.
EEOC Responses • What are we looking for?
What are we looking for? • Progressive Discipline! • Last chance statements • How were similarly situated people treated? • “But for” the person’s status in a protected class, the same action would have been taken. • Any bias demonstrated in statements or actions? • Why was the action taken now?
Purdue Complaint Procedure • Formal complaints are investigated. • There are more protected classes than under the law, to include: age, race, religion, national origin, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, veterans status.
Purdue Complaint Procedure • What do we look for in an investigation? • The same things we look for in an EEOC Response. • Documentation and Progressive Discipline are key!