Corrective Action for Classified Staff
Corrective Action Principles
Progressive Corrective Action
Progressive corrective action seeks to positively change performance and/or behavior by ensuring that the corrective measure taken is proportionate to the nature and severity of the problem. The steps taken include informal counseling/coaching, formal counseling, final counseling, and dismissal. For serious performance problems or cases of misconduct, dismissal may be the only appropriate action to take.
Each performance problem is unique and must be addressed accordingly. However, it is important that staff members in similar circumstances be treated in a similar manner. Equitable treatment takes into consideration the employee's direct responsibility for the performance or behavior problem; mitigating factors, and the individual's employment history including the history of corrective action, if any; and the impact the employee's behavior or performance has had on the institution or others.
Just Cause Standard
The basic principle underlying progressive corrective action is that management must have "just cause" for imposing corrective measures. This standard is written into many union contracts and is also applied to classified non-union staff.
The following tests have been used by arbitrators and appeal boards in determining whether employers have had just cause for taking corrective action.
- Adequate Notification of the Problem
- Did the employer notify the employee that performance or behavior were unacceptable? Did the employee violate published policies or procedures, or previous warnings or corrective measures? Warnings may be oral or in writing, however, some behaviors are so unacceptable – e.g., theft or physical violence – that employees are held responsible for engaging in such behavior even in the absence of a specific warning or policy.
- Reasonable Expectations and Standards
- Were the department's policies, procedures, standards, or work rules reasonably related to efficient and safe operations?
- Information Gathering/Fact Finding
- Was the matter properly reviewed before taking corrective action, and was the review fair and objective? Fact finding will include gathering some or all of the following information:
- Recording the date and/or time the incident(s) or problems(s) occurred.
- The location of an incident or event.
- A record of other people who may have been involved, or who witnessed the event.
- Statements from witnesses or participants.
- Documents or records related to the incident.
- A record of the effect of the problem or its consequences
- A review of the nature and frequency of the incident/violation, and the employee's overall work record.
- Substantial Evidence
- Did your review of the problem produce evidence of the employee's responsibility for it?
- Equitable treatment and past practice
- Have the performance expectations and standards, corrective actions and penalties been consistently enforced? Have staff members in similar situations been treated comparably? Failure to apply standards consistently may result in an adverse outcome including an appealed or grieved action being reversed.
- Appropriateness of corrective measures
- Did the corrective measure taken match the seriousness of the offense, and was it consistent with the individual's employment history? This question incorporates the principle of progressive corrective action. Generally, minor offenses and first occurrences should result in less severe action; major offenses and repeated occurrences should result in stronger action.