If a University employee is exhibiting problems with their performance and/or conduct, they may be subject to discipline. The type of discipline should reflect the seriousness of the offense and the type of employee receiving the disciplinary action. All employees should become familiar with the PS-08, the university's policy on Employee Discipline Procedures for Professional, Other Academic, and Classified Employees. Regardless of the employee type, all discipline must provide due process to the employee and be distributed fairly and equitably.
The first response to a performance problem (e.g., unacceptable attendance, unsatisfactory job performance or inappropriate conduct) is a coaching session. A coaching session is the most effective way to deal with a small problem before it becomes a bigger problem.
State Civil Service Rules govern the employee-employer relationship for classified employees. The process, positive discipline, involves a series of steps taken by management to instruct and assist employees in reaching a satisfactory level of performance and/or displaying appropriate behavior in the workplace. The system is dependent upon the employee's recognition of his/her need to accept and conform to the University's standards of performance and conduct.
Professional Employees & Other Academic Employees
Professional and other academic employees hold their positions at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors, except as otherwise stated in the By-Laws and Regulations of the LSU Board of Supervisors. Supervisors considering termination or discipline of professional and other academic employees should contact Employee Relations.
The first response to a performance problem (e.g.,unacceptable attendance, unsatisfactory job performance or inappropriate conduct) is a coaching session. A coaching session is the most effective way to deal with a small problem before it becomes a bigger problem. The goal of the coaching session is to help the employee understand and focus on the problem so that performance is improved. The coaching session should focus on specific ways the employee's job performance and/or behavior must improve. The coaching session is an opportunity for the employee to (1) recognize that a problem exists, (2) understand the nature of the problem, (3) acknowledge that he/she needs to correct the problem, and (4) realize consequences exist if he/she does not correct the problem.
The coaching session involves three major steps as outlined below:
- Preparing for the Coaching Session
- Determine the category of the problem (i.e., performance, attendance, conduct).
- Identify the specific difference(s) between the desired and actual performance.
- Determine the good business reasons why the problem must be solved.
- Determine the logical consequences if the problem continues.
- Determine the appropriate action the employee must take to correct the problem. Sometimes the supervisor may also be required to take action to correct the problem.
- The Coaching Session
- Confirm that the planned action is appropriate. *Allow the employee to provide a reasonable explanation of his/her performance or conduct if one exists.
If the employee's performance/conduct does not improve, the supervisor meets with the employee and reminds him/her of the obligation to correct the problem. The details of the conference are then confirmed in writing to the employee. The first reminder letter does not require Appointing Authority approval. A copy of the reminder does not need to be sent to the Office of Human Resource Management.
Employees are provided an opportunity to respond in writing to the Office of Human Resource Management if they disagree with the facts presented in the written reminder. The response must be received within seven (7) working days of receipt of the reminder. The response will be reviewed and appropriate action will be taken which may include requesting a response from the department, a modification to the written reminder, or attaching the rebuttal to the written reminder.
If the employee continues to perform below the performance standard, the employee is again counseled by the supervisor. The second conference attempts to achieve the same objective as the first, except that the employee is warned that if performance does not improve, more forceful measures will be taken, up to and including termination. The details of the conference are then confirmed in writing to the employee. The second written reminder does not require Appointing Authority approval (Leave Sanctions, which are issued as written reminders, do require approval of the Office of Human Resource Management), but a copy of the reminder must be forwarded to the Office of Human Resource Management. Written reminders are not appealable to the Civil Service Commission and are not placed in the employee's official personnel folder.
Employees are provided an opportunity to respond in writing to the Office of Human Resource Management if they disagree with the facts presented in the written reminder. The response must be received within seven (7) working days of receipt of the reminder. The response will be reviewed and appropriate action will be taken which may include requesting a response from the department, a modification to the written reminder, or attaching the rebutal to the written reminder.
Once an employee has received one or two written reminders (depending on the severity of the violation), the employee has one final opportunity to recommit to the institution. A meeting is held with the employee to discuss the seriousness of the matter. The employee is given an Employee Contract. The Employee Contract must contain:
- A brief description of the problem.
- Clearly defined expectations (a copy of the employee's current job description should be attached).
- A closing statement which includes, "your signature acknowledges your commitment to
fully acceptable conduct, attendance, and performance in every area of your job, whether
related to this issue or not, since any future violations
could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination."
At the end of the meeting, the employee is asked to take the contract home and report to the supervisor on the next work day at the beginning of his/her shift with his/her decision. If the employee wants to sign the contract in the meeting, the supervisor should reiterate that this is a final warning and the employee needs to take time to consider his/her decision. When the employee reports to the supervisor the next work day, he/she either signs the contract and commits to meeting the University's expectations or accepts the consequences for his or her failure to meet established performance standards.
The Employee Contract requires Appointing Authority approval. If an employee disagrees with the facts presented in the contract, he/she may file a grievance in accordance with PS-80. The Appointing Authority reserves the right to place the employee on a suspension without pay or a reduction in pay in lieu of the Employee Contract or if the employee refuses to sign the contract. The employee may also be subject to termination if he/she refuses to sign the contract.
- Suspension without pay - An enforced leave of absence without pay for a specified period of time. Suspensions without pay require Appointing Authority approval and are appealable to the Civil Service Commission.
- Reduction in pay - An enforced reduction in the employee's pay normally determined by assessing the cost of a suspension and then reducing the employee's pay over several payroll periods. The reduction in pay is a severe penalty, in that, the employee is expected to perform his/her duties but must do so for a lesser amount of pay. Since reductions in pay are figured on base pay, both retirement contributions and over-time are figured at a lower rate of pay. Reductions in pay are for a specific period of time. However, no employee may be reduced in pay below the minimum/entry pay for the job title/classification he/she occupies. Reductions in pay require Appointing Authority approval and are appealable to the Civil Service Commission.
PS-08, Revision: PS0008.R06, Effective: June, 16, 1997
Excerpt from PS-08:
Termination is the last resort when less severe forms of the positive discipline system do not correct performance or behavior problems. Because of the serious nature of termination, it is sometimes necessary to suspend an employee pending investigation. The suspension is to investigate the problem and confer with the appropriate officials regarding the decision to discharge. The suspension requires Appointing Authority approval. Terminations for cause require Appointing Authority approval and are appealable to the Civil Service Commission.
Alternatives to Termination include involuntary reassignment and/or involuntary demotion.