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Before any discipline is recommended to the General Manager there must be a thorough investigation. There must be sufficient compelling evidence to justify the recommended discipline. We must also make sure that these three key requirements are met:
The requirements above apply to all employees whether civil service, probationary, exempt, or trainee status.
What is the role of the Personnel Director and the General Manager in discipline?
The Personnel Director advises the General Manager on formal discipline based on a thorough investigation of the facts, discipline guidelines and consistency department-wide, and due process (opportunity for employee to respond to the evidence).
The supervisor and division manager (line management) must first identify the need for discipline, document, and decide the appropriate level of corrective action (counselling, written reprimand, Notice to Correct Deficiencies, or formal discipline).
The Personnel Director only gets involved if the division manager wants the General Manager to approve formal disciplinary action. The Personnel Director and General Manager rely on the documentation and previous efforts by the supervisor to correct the problem.
Earlier answers to questions refer to “formal discipline.” What is formal discipline?
Counseling, written reprimands, and Notices to Correct are not considered, in General Services, as formal discipline and do not require the General Manager’s approval.
Must all discipline cases be handled in a “progressive” manner?
In some situations we must suspend the employee as the first step to correcting inappropriate behavior (such as threatening or intimidating behavior). Still other cases may lead to discharge for the first offense (such as theft, assault or flagrant insubordination).
I have looked at the discipline guidelines in Personnel Directive No. 5, and noticed that discipline
usually falls within a range. How do we decide which disciplinary action within the range
The reason for this is that management needs to consider other “circumstances” in arriving at the final decision on discipline. These other circumstances are either “mitigating” or “exacerbating”.
Examples of mitigating circumstances are a long work history with good performance evaluations, admitting to being wrong and accepting responsibility for actions, and clear evidence of taking appropriate steps to correct the problem.
What are “exacerbating circumstances?”
For example, the employee has been disciplined in the past and has shown little improvement. Or, if the employee has a short time working for GSD. Maybe the employee blames others (supervisors) for his improper behavior.
I need to give an employee time off without pay for not completing her work on time.
Where do I start?
If management is comfortable that everything except discipline has been done to improve your employee’s performance (training, tools, coaching, counseling, evaluations, and written reprimand) without success, your division manager may want to pursue formal discipline.
If your division manager believes that formal discipline is warranted, he or she should request an investigation by Personnel Services. If the investigation supports formal discipline, the Personnel Director will recommend discipline to the General Manager.
What happens after the General Manager approves formal discipline?
The notice also tells the employee why he is being disciplined/discharged, and if he can appeal the action to the Civil Service Commission.
What can be appealed to the Civil Service Commission, and what cannot?
Suspensions for less than six working days, Notices to Correct or counseling cannot be appealed to the Civil Service Commission. They may, however, be grieved and ultimately submitted to an arbitrator for a final and binding decision.
Can exempt, probationary or trainee employees file grievances over discipline?
Under Civil Service, how is an appeal to discipline handled?
If an employee appeals his suspension or discharge – or grieves it – do we have to hold
off on serving the suspension until the Civil Service Commission or arbitrator has ruled?
Second, the division manager sends a request to the Personnel Director for an investigation into possible formal discipline. If the division manager does not believe that formal discipline is needed, she can proceed with informal discipline (counseling or Notice to Correct Deficiencies).
Third, a personnel analyst will conduct an investigation and prepare a report to the Personnel Director recommending appropriate formal discipline, discharge, or that the case be referred back to the division manager for informal discipline or no action.
Fourth, the employee will be given a copy of the report and all evidence. The Personnel Director will allow the employee and his representative an opportunity to provide information that may influence the Personnel Director’s recommendation to the General Manager (Skelly).
Fifth, the Personnel Director will either recommend formal discipline/discharge to the General Manager (final approval), or refer the case back to the division manager for appropriate informal action.
Sixth, if the General Manager approves formal discipline, he will sign a “Notice” and return the file to the Personnel. Personnel staff will finish the “Notice” by adding the dates for suspension or the effective date of discharge, and make arrangements through the division manager to have the “Notice” served on the employee.
Must the supervisor serve the discipline/discharge document on the employee?
Under no circumstance should you (the supervisor) serve a discipline/discharge document on an employee at home. If the employee is off duty when the document is to be served, notify your division manager who will arrange for a delivery service through Personnel.
For a suspension, who decides on the days to be served? Can the days be split up among payroll
periods or while the employee is already off duty (IOD, sick, or on unpaid leave)?
Yes, the days can be split among payroll periods, but you should try to NOT have the suspension spread out too far apart or the point is lost and it takes too long to “move on.”
Is there some special protocol in processing the paperwork after serving the “Notice” of
discipline/discharge on the employee?
I need to meet with an employee as part of my investigation into theft of tools. The employee
may or may not be subject to discipline after I conclude my investigation. When I ask the
employee to meet with me she says she wants a union representative with her. Must I accommodate
the request for representation?
But, there are some fine points involved with this question. First, you do not have to ask if the employee wants representation, and if she does not ask, you do not have to accommodate. However, it is best if you make sure the employee knows her right to representation so that there is no confusion later.
Second, if the employee requests representation, you must wait a reasonable amount of time to allow the employee to obtain representation. The exception is, of course, if there is an emergency and we cannot wait.
I called an employee into my office to counsel him. He said that I could not counsel him
until he has his union there to represent him. Must I wait for the representative to be
present before I can counsel or serve notice of discipline on an employee?
Are employees allowed time, with pay, to meet with their representatives to prepare for
a disciplinary meeting (investigation or due process)?
Are employees entitled to time, with pay, to attend a Skelly meeting
(scheduled by Personnel Services)?
Can an employee attend a Civil Service Commission or arbitration hearing while on
the clock (with pay)?
What if the HEARING is scheduled when the employee is not scheduled to work? Shall I change the employee's work schedule
or allow him to work overtime to attend the HEARING?
Any exception to this practice should be discussed with your Liaison Personnel Analyst.
One of the early questions in this section on discipline referred to a
suspension “with pay” and Disciplinary Pay Status. What is that?
The agreement is called “Disciplinary Pay Status.” For example, an employee up for a 15-day suspension who agrees to Disciplinary Pay Status, has the suspension recorded by the Civil Service Commission, but does not lose any work time. If the employee’s problem continues (usually absenteeism), the next disciplinary action in this example would most likely be a discharge.
Division managers may propose Disciplinary Pay Status to the Personnel Director, but it is up to the Personnel Director to recommend it to the General Manager, based on the facts of the case and similar cases in the department.
I have heard another disciplinary term that needs explanation.
What is a “Last Chance Agreement?”
For example, an employee up for discharge may be offered a contract for 18 months during which time she must not commit any similar infractions and meet other very strict conditions. If she is successful in meeting the terms of the contract, the Personnel Director may recommend a suspension (even a disciplinary pay status) to the General Manager.
If the employee violates any of the terms of the “contract” she will be discharged for violation of the “Last Chance Agreement.”
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