REG 05.70.01 - SPA Successive Discipline

Authority: Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business

History: First Issued: November 1, 2002. Last Revised: March 3, 2009. 

Related Policies: 
NCSU REG05.25.02 - SPA Grievance and Appeal

Contact Info: Director of Employee Relations (919-515-6575)


1. PURPOSE

1.1. The University's SPA discipline procedure provides SPA employees and management with a process for correcting and improving job performance problems and handling instances of unacceptable personal conduct. The University administers a successive disciplinary procedure by which discipline is administered only for just cause and apportioned to the degree of severity and frequency of the performance problem and/or conduct.

1.2. All disciplinary actions are to be administered consistently and equitably without regard to race, sex, color, creed, age, political affiliation, disability, religion or national origin, and are subject to the approval of the dean/department head and the associate vice chancellor for Human Resources' designee: the Director, Employee Relations. The supervisor recommending disciplinary action should discuss the recommendation with and receive the approval of appropriate management.

1.3. Employees are informed of the University's Disciplinary and Grievance Policies and procedures during new employee orientation and through the Staff Employee Handbook. All employees will be notified through university publications and electronically via the Human Resources web site, of any changes to this policy no later than 30 days prior to the effective date of the changes.

2. COVERED EMPLOYEES

2.1. SPA Employees

Any SPA employee of the university may be warned, demoted, suspended or dismissed for just cause. However, SPA employees who have completed the probationary period must receive successive discipline as prescribed in this policy.

2.2. Probationary SPA Employees

There is no requirement that the successive disciplinary process be applied in the discipline and or dismissal of probationary SPA employees. Probationary employees may be disciplined up to and including dismissal without prior warning and without a pre-disciplinary conference.

3. CATEGORIES OF DISCIPLINE

3.1. Categories

The University recognizes three categories of discipline for SPA employees. Some actions by an employee may fall under one or more categories of discipline.

3.2. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

3.2.1. Unsatisfactory job performance is work-related performance that fails to meet job requirements as set out in the relevant job description, work plan, or as directed by management.

3.2.2. Examples of unsatisfactory job performance include:

3.2.2.1. Absenteeism

3.2.2.2. Unsatisfactory quality of work

3.2.2.3. Insufficient quantity of work

3.2.2.4. Failure to meet deadlines

3.2.2.5. Untimely performance of work

3.2.2.6. Faulty decision making or poor judgment

3.2.2.7. Inaccuracy of work

3.2.2.8. Poor work habits

3.3. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance

3.3.1. Grossly inefficient job performance is a type of unsatisfactory job performance in which the employee fails to perform job requirements as specified in the job description, work plan, or as directed by management, and that failure could result in the following:

3.3.1.1. The creation of the potential for death or serious bodily injury to an employee(s) or to members of the public or to a person(s) over whom the employee has responsibility.

3.3.1.2. The loss of or damage to state property or funds that has a serious impact on the University or the State.

3.3.2. Examples of grossly inefficient job performance include:

3.3.2.1. Negligence in operating equipment

3.3.2.2. Negligence in the care of persons or property

3.3.2.3. Work which results in non-payment of the University's fiscal obligations

3.3.2.4. Loss of revenue, accrual of penalties, or other substantial costs to the University

3.4. Unacceptable Personal Conduct

3.4.1. Unacceptable personal conduct is conduct for which no reasonable person should expect to receive prior warning. Such conduct may include but is not limited to personal conduct that disrupts work or the work environment, jeopardizes the safety of persons or property, or creates other serious problems.

3.4.2. Examples of unacceptable personal conduct include:

3.4.2.1. Insubordination (refusing to accept a reasonable and proper assignment from an authorized supervisor)

3.4.2.2. Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, or using alcohol or illegal drugs on the job

3.4.2.3. Stealing or knowingly misusing State property or funds

3.4.2.4. Willful violation of known or written department policies.

4. DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

4.1. Types of Disciplinary Actions

There are four types of disciplinary action governed by this policy for SPA employees to be taken when deemed appropriate. They are Written Warning, Suspension without Pay, Demotion, and Dismissal.

4.2. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

4.2.1. The available disciplinary actions and required prerequisites for a current unresolved incident of Unsatisfactory Job Performance are:

4.2.1.1. With no active prior disciplinary actions on file, a Written Warning may be issued.

4.2.1.2. With one active prior disciplinary action (any type) on file, a Written Warning, Suspension without Pay, or Demotion may be issued.

4.2.1.3. With two or more active prior disciplinary actions (any type) on file, a Written Warning, Suspension without Pay, Demotion, or Dismissal may be issued.

4.2.1.4. A pre-disciplinary conference is required when Suspensions without Pay, Demotion or Dismissal are under consideration. See Special Provisions for requirements of the pre-disciplinary conference. No pre-disciplinary conference is required to issue a written warning.

4.3. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance or Unacceptable Personal Conduct

4.3.1. For a current unresolved incident of Grossly Inefficient Job Performance or Unacceptable Personal Conduct, no active prior disciplinary actions on file are required to issue a Written Warning, Suspension without Pay, Demotion or Dismissal.

4.3.2. A pre-disciplinary conference is required when Suspensions without Pay, Demotion or Dismissal is under consideration. See Special Provisions for requirements of the pre-disciplinary conference. No pre-disciplinary conference is required to issue a Written Warning.

5. WRITTEN WARNING

5.1. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

A supervisor should initiate a private discussion with an employee as soon as a performance deficiency is observed. If satisfactory improvement is not made, successive discipline should then be administered beginning with a Written Warning. An employee may receive multiple Written Warnings for similar or different infractions. Any Written Warning issued after the first warning which is intended to be the final disciplinary action issued prior to dismissal, must include notification to the employee that failure to make the required job performance improvements may result in dismissal.

5.2. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance and Unacceptable Personal Conduct

A supervisor may elect to issue a written warning for a current incident of grossly inefficient job performance or unacceptable personal conduct. If the written warning is intended to be the final disciplinary action issued prior to dismissal, the warning must notify the employee that failure to make the required improvements or corrections may result in dismissal.

5.3. Requirements

5.3.1. Pre-disciplinary Conference

No pre-disciplinary conference is required for a supervisor to issue a written warning. However, the supervisory should meet with the employee when providing the written warning.

5.3.2. Written Notice

A written warning must:

5.3.2.1. Inform the employee that the action is a written warning and not another non-disciplinary process such as counseling;

5.3.2.2. Include the specific issues that are the basis for the warning;

5.3.2.3. Inform the employee of what specific improvements /corrections must be made to address these specific issues;

5.3.2.4. Inform the employee of the timeframe allowed for making the required improvements/corrections. Immediate correction is required for grossly inefficient job performance or unacceptable personal conduct. NOTE: If the warning does not include an improvement or correction timeframe, the timeframe is 60 days for Unsatisfactory Job Performance and immediately for Grossly Inefficient Job Performance or Unacceptable Personal Conduct;

5.3.2.5. Inform the employee of the consequences of failing to make the required improvements or corrections;

5.3.2.6. No appeal rights should appear on a Written Warning.

5.3.3. Example

View a Written Warning template.

5.3.4. Processing

The Division of Human Resources should review a copy of the written warning prior to it being provided to the employee.

6. SUSPENSION WITHOUT PAY

6.1. Definition

An employee who has been suspended for disciplinary reasons must be placed on suspension without pay. The suspension for a non-exempt employee may extend from one to five consecutive workdays (i.e., one workday to one workweek, excluding university holidays). The suspension for exempt employees is one full workweek (five consecutive workdays, excluding university holidays).

6.2. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

An employee may be suspended without pay for a current incident of unsatisfactory job performance after having received one prior disciplinary action of any type.

6.3. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance and Unacceptable Personal Conduct

An employee may be suspended without pay without prior disciplinary action for a current incident for a current incident of unacceptable personal conduct or grossly inefficient job performance,

6.4. Requirements

6.4.1. Pre-disciplinary Conference

The supervisor or designated management representative(s) must conduct a pre-disciplinary conference when placing an employee on suspension without pay. See Special Provisions for requirements of the pre-disciplinary conference.

6.4.2. Written Notice

6.4.2.1. Following the pre-disciplinary conference, but not before the next business day, the employee must be given written notice of the decision to suspend.

6.4.2.2. The notice must:

6.4.2.2.1. Inform the employee that the action is a suspension, not another form of discipline;

6.4.2.2.2. Include specific reasons for the action;

6.4.2.2.3. Inform the employee of specific dates of suspension and that failure to return to work at the requested time may be considered a voluntary resignation;

6.4.2.2.4. Inform the employee of the specific improvements/corrections that are required;

6.4.2.2.5. Inform the employee that failure to make the required improvements or corrections may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal;

6.4.2.2.6. Include the employee's appeal rights and attach a copy of the University's SPA Grievance and Appeal REG05.25.02.

6.5. Example

View a Written Notice of Suspension Without Pay.

6.6. Processing

The Division of Human Resources must review copy of the written notice prior to it being provided to the employee.

7. DEMOTION

7.1. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

An employee may be demoted for a current incident of unsatisfactory job performance after having received one prior disciplinary action of any type.

7.2. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance and Unacceptable Personal Conduct

An employee may be demoted without prior disciplinary action for a current incident of unacceptable personal conduct or grossly inefficient job performance. Disciplinary demotions may be accomplished in any one of three ways:

7.2.1. An employee may be demoted to a lower pay grade with a reduction in salary rate as long as the new salary rate does not exceed the maximum of the salary schedule for the new lower pay grade; or

7.2.2. An employee may be demoted to a lower pay grade without a reduction in salary rate as long as the salary rate does not exceed the maximum of the salary schedule for the new lower pay grade; or

7.2.3. An employee may be demoted while retaining the same pay grade with a reduction in salary rate. In no event will an employee's salary rate be reduced to less than the minimum salary rate for the applicable pay grade or the special entry rate, if in effect.

7.3. Requirements

7.3.1. Pre-disciplinary Conference

The supervisor or designated management representative(s) must conduct a pre-disciplinary conference when demoting an employee. See Special Provisions for requirements of the pre-disciplinary conference.

7.3.2. Written Notice

7.3.2.1. Following the pre-disciplinary conference but not before the next business day, the employee must be given written notice of the decision to demote.

7.3.2.2. The notice must:

7.3.2.2.1. Inform the employee that the action is a demotion and not another form of discipline;

7.3.2.2.2. Inform the employee of the effective date;

7.3.2.2.3. Advise employee of how and to what extent the demotion will affect his or her salary rate or pay grade;

7.3.2.2.4. Include specific reasons for the action;

7.3.2.2.5. Inform the employee of the specific improvements/ corrections that are required;

7.3.2.2.6. Inform the employee that failure to make the required improvements or corrections may result in dismissal;

7.3.2.2.7. Include the employee's appeal rights and attach a copy of the University's SPA Grievance and Appeal REG05.25.02.

7.4. Example

View a Written Notice of Demotion.

7.5. Processing

The Division of Human Resources must review copy of the written notice prior to it being provided to the employee.

8. DISMISSAL

8.1. Unsatisfactory Job Performance

8.1.1. An employee may be dismissed for a current incident of unsatisfactory job performance after having received two prior disciplinary actions of any type. One or more written warnings must be followed by a written warning or other disciplinary action that notifies the employee that failure to make the required performance improvements/corrections may result in dismissal. Disciplinary actions related to personal conduct may be included in the successive system for performance-related dismissal.

8.1.2. Upon dismissal for unsatisfactory job performance, an employee who has completed the probationary period may be given up to two weeks notice. In exceptional circumstances, and with the prior approval of Human Resources, a payment of up to two weeks salary may be made in lieu of notice.

8.2. Grossly Inefficient Job Performance and Unacceptable Personal Conduct

8.2.1. An employee may be dismissed for a current incident of grossly inefficient job performance or unacceptable personal conduct, without any prior disciplinary action.

8.2.2. Employees dismissed for grossly inefficient job performance or unacceptable personal conduct are not entitled to a working notice, and are not eligible for rehire with the University. Employees who resign during the pre-disciplinary process for grossly inefficient job performance or unacceptable personal conduct also are not eligible for rehire with the University.

8.3. Requirements

8.3.1. Pre-disciplinary Conference

The supervisor or designated management representative(s) must conduct a pre-disciplinary conference when dismissing an employee. See Special Provisions for requirements of the pre-disciplinary conference.

8.3.2. Written Notice

8.3.2.1. Following the conference, but not before the next business day, provide the employee written notice of the decision to dismiss.

8.3.2.2. The notice must:

8.3.2.2.1. Inform the employee that the action is a dismissal and not some other form of discipline;

8.3.2.2.2. Inform the employee of the effective date of dismissal;

8.3.2.2.3. Include specific reasons for the action;

8.3.2.2.4. Inform the employee, that they are not eligible for rehire with the University.

8.3.2.2.5. Include the employee's appeal rights and attach a copy of the University's SPA Grievance and Appeal REG05.25.02.

8.4. Example

View a Written Notice of Dismissal.

8.5. Processing

The Division of Human Resources must review copy of the written notice prior to it being provided to the employee.

9. SPECIAL PROVISIONS

9.1. Resolution of Disciplinary Actions

9.1.1. All disciplinary actions, except Oral Warnings, existing on October 1, 1995, will remain in full force and effect until one of the following occurs:

9.1.1.1. Management notifies Human Resources in writing that the reason for the disciplinary action has been resolved or corrected; or

9.1.1.2. The purpose for a performance-based disciplinary action has been achieved, as evidenced by a summary performance rating of level 3 (Good) or other official designation of performance at an acceptable level or better and at least a level 3 or better in the performance area cited in the warning or disciplinary action, following the disciplinary warning or action; or

9.1.1.3. Eighteen months have passed since the warning or disciplinary action and management has not issued to the employee notice of the extension of the period and the employee does not have another active warning or disciplinary action which occurred within the last eighteen months.

9.1.2. Inactive disciplinary actions will be removed from the employee's main personnel file and placed in an inactive file in Human Resources.

9.2. Extension of Disciplinary Actions

Any written warning or disciplinary action for an SPA employee may be extended at any time within eighteen months of the effective date of the disciplinary action. The employee and Human Resources must be given written notice of the extension.

9.3. Transfer of Disciplinary Actions

When an SPA employee transfers to another campus department or State agency, any active disciplinary action(s) will transfer with the personnel file of the employee and will remain in full force at the new work unit until removed by the new supervisor or made inactive by operation of this policy.

9.4. Pre-Disciplinary Conferences

Before an SPA employee is suspended, demoted, or dismissed, the following must occur:

9.4.1. A conference must be scheduled and held by a management representative(s) with the employee. Advanced written notice of the pre-disciplinary conference must be given to the employee noting the time, location, and the issue(s) for which the disciplinary action has been recommended. The amount of advance notice should be as much as is practical under the circumstances.

9.4.2. Attendance at the pre-disciplinary conference should be limited to the employee and the management representative(s) conducting the conference. Exceptions should be referred to Human Resources.

If the employee is unable to attend the pre-disciplinary conference for reasons beyond his/her control, the conference must be rescheduled. If an employee fails to appear for the conference and does not notify the supervisor of his/her intentions, or fails to provide sufficient reasons for non-attendance, the supervisor may render a decision based on available information.

If necessary, a Public Safety Office may be present at management's discretion. Attorneys are not allowed to attend these conferences. Pre-disciplinary conferences may not be tape recorded by either party.

9.4.3. In the conference, the management representative must give the employee oral or written notice of the recommendation for suspension, demotion, or dismissal, including specific reasons for the proposed action and a summary of the information supporting the recommendation. The employee must have an opportunity to respond to, and/or refute, information provided by management, and be allowed to offer information or arguments to support his/her position.

9.4.4. Following the conference, management should review and consider the response of the employee and reach a decision on the proposed recommendation. In order to have sufficient time to review and consider all information, management should not communicate the decision to the employee prior to the beginning of the next business day following the conclusion of the conference or after the end of the second business day following the conference. If the decision remains to suspend, demote or dismiss the employee, a written letter containing the specific reasons for the action, the effective date of the action, and the employee's appeal rights must be issued to the employee in person or by certified mail-return receipt requested, to the last known address of the employee.

9.4.5. Management's failure to conduct a pre-disciplinary conference will cause the disciplinary action to be non-binding.

9.5. Credentials

9.5.1. By statute, only persons who are duly licensed, registered or certified as required by the relevant law may perform some duties assigned to positions. All such requirements and restrictions are specified in the statement of essential qualifications or recruitment standards for such classifications established by the State Personnel Commission.

9.5.2. Employees in such classifications are responsible for obtaining and maintaining current, valid credentials as required by law. Failure to obtain or maintain the required credentials is a basis for immediate dismissal without prior warning. An SPA employee who is dismissed for failure to obtain or maintain credentials must be dismissed under the procedural requirements applicable to dismissals for unacceptable personal conduct or grossly inefficient job performance.

9.5.3. Falsification of employment credentials or other documentation in connection with securing employment constitutes just cause for disciplinary action. When credential or work history falsification is discovered prior to employment, the applicant must be disqualified from consideration. If discovered after employment the following will apply:

9.5.3.1. Confirmed falsification of required credentials will result in immediate dismissal under the procedural requirements applicable to dismissals for unacceptable personal conduct or grossly inefficient job performance.

9.5.3.2. Confirmed falsification of other credentials will result in some form of disciplinary action, but the severity of the disciplinary action will be at the discretion of management.

9.6. Investigatory Status with Pay

9.6.1. In cases where an investigation is necessary to determine if disciplinary action is warranted, an SPA employee may be temporarily removed from work status and placed on investigatory status with pay. Management must notify an employee in writing of the reasons for investigatory placement not later than the second scheduled workday after the beginning of the placement. Placement of an employee on investigatory status is not a disciplinary action and therefore would not require a pre-disciplinary conference or carry appeal rights.

9.6.2. Investigatory status with pay may be appropriately used to provide time to schedule and hold a pre-dismissal conference. Also, management may elect to use placement on investigatory status in order to avoid undue disruption of work or to protect the safety of persons or property.

9.6.3. Placement on investigatory status with pay cannot exceed 30 calendar days without written approval of extension by the associate vice chancellor for Human Resources and the State Personnel Director. If management by the end of 30 calendar days has taken no action and no further extension has been granted, management must either take appropriate disciplinary action on the basis of the findings of the investigation, or return the employee to active work status.

9.6.4. Placement of an SPA employee on investigatory status cannot be used for the purpose of delaying an administrative decision on an employee's work status pending the resolution of a civil or criminal court matter involving the employee.

10. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

10.1. Written Notice

Failure to give specific written reasons for suspension, demotion, or dismissal, or failure to give written notice of applicable appeal rights will cause the disciplinary action to be non-binding. Time limits for filing a grievance do not start until the employee receives written notice of his/her appeal rights, subject to the next paragraph.

10.2. Reasonable Effort

It is occasionally necessary to mail a letter of dismissal to an employee. An agency is responsible only for making a reasonable effort to inform the individual. In such instances, a dismissal letter should be sent by certified mail to the employee's last known address. Time limits for filing a grievance run from the time delivery was attempted if actual delivery is not achieved.

10.3. Comparability

In using the unsatisfactory job performance disciplinary process, the similarity of treatment of persons in similar situations within the employing unit should be an important consideration. Inconsistent use of discipline in similar situations may lead to poor morale, grievances or lawsuits.

10.4. Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP)

Because of the University's strong commitment to ensure that all employees are given every opportunity to use the resources of the FASAP, supervisors are encouraged to consider that option when disciplinary questions arise. The services of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program may be offered in conjunction with a written warning. The supervisor may not offer the FASAP as an alternative to disciplinary action.