How to Conduct Corrective Action (Discipline)

All employees are expected to meet performance standards and behave appropriately in the workplace. Corrective action is a process of communicating with the employee to improve unacceptable behavior or performance after other methods such as coaching and performance appraisal have not been successful. If the employee has not made an improvement or if the behavior/unsatisfactory performance persist, corrective action may be appropriate. Corrective action MUST be executed in consultation with an Employee Relations Representative.

The goal is to guide the employee to correct performance or behavior by identifying the problems, causes and solutions, not to punish the employee. If there is no improvement or if there are repeat occurrences, correction action may be appropriate. In general, corrective action should be progressive, i.e., beginning with the lowest severity action before employing actions of more severity.  Any formal corrective or disciplinary action must follow the principles of "Just Cause".  After establishing that corrective or disciplinary action is warranted, use some or all of the following steps, in consultation with the Employee & Labor Relations Office.

Step 1.

Oral Warning

The supervisor should:

·       Schedule a meeting with the employee to ensure privacy;

·       Make notes about what they want to say in advance;

·       If applicable, encourage the employee to have Union Representation Present; remember that the employee has a right to representation*.

·       State clearly that they are issuing an oral warning;

·       Be specific in describing the unacceptable performance or behavior;

·       Remind the employee of the acceptable standards or rules. If they are available in writing, they should be provided to the employee;

·       State the consequences of failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement: Further disciplinary action may be the result; and

·       Memorialize the conversation in writing with the employee and copy the Labor Relations Department at laborrelations@ucmerced.edu

If the supervisor gave an oral warning and the unsatisfactory performance or behavior endures, a written warning may be warranted. This action may be used more than once, however if the problem continues to persist repetitive letters may not be the solution.

*Weingarten Rights guarantee an employee the right to Union representation during an investigatory interview. There rights were established by the Supreme Court in 1975 in the case of NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc.

Step 2

Written Warning

Written warning letter(s) must be approved by a Labor Relations Representative before issuance. A template letter may be requested from a Labor Relations Consultant.

A written warning should:

·       State clearly at the outset of the letter that it is a written warning, and cite the appropriate personnel policy or contract provision.

·       Describe the performance problem(s) or work rule violation(s) in very specific detail and attach documents which support the supervisor's conclusions.

·       Outline previous steps taken to acquaint the employee with the issue and attach copies of the documents that are referred to.

·       Describe the impact of the problem.

·       Note the employee's explanation or that the employee declined to offer one. If it was unacceptable, the supervisor should explain why.

·       Explain the expectations regarding behavior and/or performance.

·       Clarify that if the employee doesn't demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement, the consequence may be further disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

·       Note the appropriate policy or contract provision for the employee's appeal rights.

·       The warning letter should be delivered to the employee using appropriate delivery procedures such as Proof of Service, and a copy forwarded to the Labor Relations Department to be placed in the employee's personnel file.

A suspension without pay, reduction of pay within a class, demotion to a lower classification or dismissal may be the next step in the progressive disciplinary process after written warning(s).

Step 3

Disciplinary Action

Suspension without pay - A suspension without pay prevents an employee from working and is without pay for one or more days.

The letter should:

  • State that the action is a suspension without pay.
  • Inform the employee of the number of days they will be suspended with the beginning and ending dates.
  • Describe the problem, the previous corrective measures, and the impact of the continued behavior or performance.
  • State the supervisor's expectations and the consequences of failure to improve.
  • Notify the employee of their appeal rights, if appropriate.

Depending upon the contract or personnel program the employee is covered by, a letter of intent to suspend may be required, which provides the employee with the right to appeal the intended action to the next higher management level before the action is implemented.  Contact your Labor Relations Department as well as the appropriate policy or contract for more information.  A template letter maybe requested from your Labor Relations Department.

Reduction of pay within a class - This alternative is normally used when a supervisor does not wish to remove the employee from the work site, but serious discipline is appropriate.  Contact your Labor Relations Department for more information regarding this action.

Demotion to a Lower Classification - This alternative is normally used when a supervisor does not wish to remove the employee from the work site, but serious discipline is appropriate.  Contact your Labor Relations Department for more information regarding this action.

Dismissal – This action may be appropriate after performance counseling and progressive corrective action have failed to get the employee to correct the problem(s). Contact your Labor Relations Department for more information regarding this action.

 

Need an Expert? Contact Labor Relations at: laborrelations@ucmerced.edu