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Disciplinary Processes for University Support Staff: Performance Problems - FAQs

What is the formal, administrative process for handling disciplinary actions for university support staff?

Disciplinary processes for university support staff fall into two categories that are handled differently:

  • Performance
  • Conduct

What is a performance issue?

A performance issue is one that affects the staff member’s overall ability to perform his/her job responsibilities.  Some examples of job performance issues may include:

  • Missing deadlines to finish tasks;
  • Making too many mistakes;
  • Providing incorrect information;
  • Neglecting or forgetting tasks;
  • Failing to maintain equipment properly;
  • Not maintaining a sufficient level of productivity.

What process is used to address performance issues?

Performance issues are addressed by using the performance evaluation process. The evaluation form and instructions are available on the Human Resources (HR) web site.

 

How is the evaluation process used to address those issues?

If performance problems arise, the following steps are recommended for supervisors:

  • Specific problems should be identified to the employee. Discuss those problems with the employee, soliciting input from the employee about his/her view of the problems.
  • Establish performance improvement goals using the evaluation goal form, seeking input from the employee to identify effective ways to address the performance issues and to give the employee the opportunity to address the performance deficiencies. Notify the employee of the consequences of failure to improve his/her performance.
  • Establish a feedback process. During the evaluation rating period, the supervisor and employee should meet on a regular basis to discuss progress or needed improvements.
  • Document progress made or problems that continue on the goals form. Attachments are allowed. The goals may need to be updated during the rating period to carefully monitor progress in addressing performance problems. Goals should not, however, be modified less than 1 month prior to conducting an evaluation. If the problems continue, the supervisor may wish to conduct a special evaluation. 

What if the employee feels that the supervisor has established unreasonable goals?

Supervisors have ultimate authority to establish goals. However, if the employee feels that the goals are unreasonable, the employee should speak with the supervisor about those concerns. The supervisor and employee should work cooperatively to give full consideration to the concerns. If there is a dispute and either party contacts HR, an HR staff member will serve as a neutral third party in an attempt to resolve differences.

How does a special evaluation differ from an annual evaluation?

A supervisor may give a special evaluation at any time during the rating period as long as the employee has had a goal in place for at least thirty days.  Special evaluations are often used when performance deficiencies need to be addressed, but may be used to indicate improved performance. The form and process used for conducting the special evaluation are identical to the annual evaluation process. However, special evaluations may be conducted monthly or every few months if performance problems persist or if deemed necessary by the supervisor.

Does an employee have the right to appeal an evaluation?

A regular status employee may appeal a performance evaluation, except one with an overall rating of exceptional. Generally, a regular status employee only appeals an evaluation with an overall rating of unsatisfactory. The employee must appeal in writing to HR within 7 calendar days of receiving the evaluation form. The appeal form is available on the HR website. The employee should list the specific items being appealed. Requested witnesses should also be listed on the appeal form.

What happens when a regular employee appeals an evaluation?

The first step is for HR staff to attempt an informal resolution. HR staff will contact the employee and the supervisor to arrange a meeting for that purpose. If no informal resolution is possible, the employee may decide to pursue the appeal and request from HR a formal appeal hearing. 

How does the evaluation appeal hearing process work?

HR appoints an appeal committee of 3 faculty and/or staff. The employee and the supervisor have a role in selecting 2 of the committee members while HR appoints the chairperson. The employee and the supervisor must share the materials to be used in the appeal hearing in advance of the hearing, as well as the list of witnesses that may be called to testify in the hearing. A chairperson conducts the appeal hearing, allowing each party to describe the information he/she has regarding the appeal. The committee and each party can ask questions of any who participate in the appeal hearing. The appeal committee determines the final overall rating that cannot be further appealed. The committee may also make other recommendations.  

Does an employee serving on a probationary period have the right to appeal evaluation?

An employee serving a probationary period has no appeal rights.

What are the consequences of receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation?

There are several possible consequences to an unsatisfactory evaluation:

  • Annual across-the-board salary and merit increases are not provided if an employee has an unsatisfactory evaluation.
  • An employee cannot promote to a higher-level university support staff job.
  • An employee is ineligible for transfer or to interview for job vacancies.
  • An employee serving a probationary period could have the probationary period extended for a period not to exceed 1 year or the department could recommend termination of employment to HR.
  • The department can recommend to HR that a regular status employee who received 2 unsatisfactory evaluations within 180 days be suspended, demoted or dismissed. 

How does a department recommend disciplinary action for an employee based on performance?

If a department recommends a suspension, demotion or dismissal based on performance, the department must:

  • Submit to HR a Request for Disciplinary Action (P-14) form. The recommendation must be reviewed with and approved by the supervisor and the Dean, Director or Chairperson of the department.
  • Supporting documentation must be provided with the Request for Disciplinary Action, including copies of the unsatisfactory evaluations. 

How does HR act on a recommended disciplinary action and how is an employee notified about disciplinary action based on performance?

If a department has recommended suspension, demotion or dismissal based on performance, HR takes the following steps:

  • HR reviews the recommendation (Request for Disciplinary Action, P-14 form) and supporting documentation to determine if disciplinary action should be proposed.
  • If warranted, HR writes a proposal letter to the employee, outlining the reason for the action and the proposed effective date of the action. 
  • The letter is hand-delivered by a departmental staff member or sent by certified mail to the employee.
  • The letter also specifies a deadline by which the employee can meet with HR staff for the employee to describe his/her view of the proposed action.
  • The employee may meet with HR, may have a representative when meeting with HR, or may choose not to meet with HR. If accompanied by a representative, HR should be notified in advance. 

What happens after the meeting with HR staff?

  • HR staff make a final determination about whether or not the proposed disciplinary action should be taken.
  • HR writes a final letter to the employee notifying him/her of that determination.
  • The letter is hand-delivered by a departmental staff member or sent by certified mail to the employee.
  • If disciplinary action is taken for a regular status employee, the final letter also notifies the employee how to appeal to the University’s Disciplinary Action Hearing Board.

How is a Disciplinary Action Hearing Board hearing conducted?

The Disciplinary Action Hearing Board (referred to hereafter as the Board) is a panel of faculty and staff nominated by their respective governance organizations and appointed by the Provost. The Board chairperson conducts the hearing, and the University Governance Office provides staffing for the activities of the Board. The hearings are always held on campus and are somewhat similar to a courtroom hearing. All those testifying are sworn in, and a tape recording is made of the hearing. An attorney represents the University. The employee appealing the disciplinary action may be represented by an attorney or may represent him/herself. It is the employee’s responsibility, i.e. burden of proof, to demonstrate that the University acted inappropriately. Each party is allowed to present written materials submitted in advance of the hearing to all parties. Witnesses may be asked to testify. Cross-examination is allowed, as are opening and closing statements. The Board recommends to the Provost that he/she rescind, sustain, or modify the action of the University. The Board may render a recommendation at the hearing or may choose to render its recommendation at later date. A formal written recommendation is provided to the Provost and to all parties of the appeal after the hearing. The guidelines for the Board are available by reviewing the Disciplinary Action Hearing Board for University Support Staff Guidelines.

Does termination for performance deficiencies affect eligibility for unemployment compensation?

The Kansas Department of Human Resources, Unemployment Claims Office determines the eligibility for unemployment compensation, not the University. 


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