Conduct, Corrective Action, and Dismissal for Cause

Last updated August 1, 2001

Performance Standards

Certain standards of work performance and employee behavior are required of all UNL employees. When an employee does not meet the specified standards, corrective action is warranted.

Attendance Policy

Employment positions at UNL have been evaluated and designed so that the duties are commensurate with the FTE. That is, a 1.00 FTE position provides tasks and responsibilities that will completely occupy a full-time employee while at work. Therefore, attendance at work must be reliable, predictable, regular, and prompt. Such attendance is essential to the performance of any UNL position.

Notwithstanding the leave benefits offered to UNL employees, unpredictable attendance, habitual tardiness, and absenteeism are considerations in the evaluation of performance and are cause for corrective action up to and including dismissal.

Unpredictable attendance is particularly detrimental to planning and organizational efficiency and employee morale. As such, employees must notify supervisors of requested leave as promptly as possible.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevail over requirements of state and federal law.

Circumstances Justifying Corrective Action

The following circumstances justify corrective action. This list, however, is not all inclusive. Other acts or omissions by an employee contrary to standards of work performance or employee conduct for a particular job may warrant corrective action.

  • Violation of, or failure to comply with, state or federal law. Failure to comply with published rules, regulations, policies, or procedures of the employing department or of the University.
  • Discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, discrimination in the form of prohibited harassment based upon protected status, and discrimination in the form of hostile institutional climate as defined in UNL's "Policy and Procedures on Unlawful Discrimination, Including Sexual and Other Prohibited Harassment." (See this policy in Other Policies.)
  • Possession by employees of dangerous weapons--concealed or unconcealed--on University property, on the worksite, in University vehicles, or in personal vehicles when on University property shall be a violation of UNL policy. (A dangerous weapon shall include all guns, and any knives, explosives, or other devices, which in the manner used or intended, are capable of producing death or bodily injury. Devices authorized by the Vice Chancellor for Business & Finance and/or provided to employees for purposes of carrying out work responsibilities shall not be deemed dangerous weapons for purposes of this policy.)
  • Threats or acts that affect or are perceived to affect the safety, health, or well-being of another person.
  • An act that causes disruption of work being performed.
  • An act or conduct (on or off the job) that adversely affects the employee's performance and/or the accomplishment of the job.
  • Failure or refusal to comply with a lawful request or to accept a proper assignment from an authorized supervisor.
  • Inefficiency, incompetence, or negligence in the performance of duties.
  • Possession of narcotics, alcoholic beverages, or other unlawful drugs on University property or while performing duties of employment, drinking alcoholic beverages or using unlawful drugs on duty, or reporting for duty under the influence of alcohol and/or unlawful drugs.
  • Dishonesty of any kind including but not limited to theft of property, equipment, or funds belonging to UNL or to others; use of time, material, or facilities for purposes unrelated to the work of UNL; removal or borrowing of property, equipment, or funds belonging to UNL or others without permission; or misrepresentation for the purpose of obtaining employee benefits or privileges.
  • Soliciting or accepting anything of value based on an understanding that one's official action or judgment will be influenced thereby.
  • Using one's position for personal gain, including the use of confidential information received through one's position to obtain favor or financial gain (other than compensation provided by law) for oneself or others.
  • Inappropriate handling or release of confidential or other information not authorized for release.
  • Falsification, fraud, or omission of information in applying for a position.
  • Unauthorized or improper use of any type of leave or abuse of meal or rest periods.
  • Repeated tardiness or unauthorized leave, including unauthorized departure from the work area.
  • Failure to maintain satisfactory working relationships with students, the public, other employees, or supervisors.
  • Failure to obtain and/or maintain a current license or certification required by law or department standards as a condition of employment.
  • Conviction of a felony.
  • Insubordinate acts or language toward a supervisor that substantially interferes with and impedes efficient operations or substantially interferes with and impedes the ability of a supervisor to manage or function.
  • Failure to use safety equipment or endangering self and others by engaging in unsafe practices.
  • Any other behavior not in the best interest of the University.

Corrective Action

Corrective action cannot be administered according to an absolute set of rules; decisions must be made based on the facts of each case. In many cases corrective action is not intended to punish employees, but to bring employee performance up to expectations. Corrective action will be taken in the following progressive order, except in cases where in the judgment of supervisory personnel circumstances warrant the administering of immediate and more severe corrective action, including dismissal.

  • Verbal Notice
  • Written Notice
  • Counseling and Corrective Probation that may lead to one or more of the following:
    • Suspension Without Pay
    • Demotion
    • Dismissal

The type of corrective action will be determined by the nature, severity, and effect of the problem, by the type and frequency of previous problems, by the period of time elapsed since a previous problem, and by any circumstances relevant to the problem.

An employee may not have another party present at meetings between an employee and departmental representatives to address corrective action issues.

Supervisors are encouraged to consult with Human Resources on any corrective actions.

NOTE: Any action that deprives an employee of pay or status requires prior approval from Human Resources.

Employees dismissed from UNL may be eligible for unemployment benefits as determined by the Nebraska Labor Department. Costs for unemployment benefits are the responsibility of the department. Questions should be directed to Benefits, 472-2600.

Verbal Notice

A meeting between the employee and the immediate supervisor should be arranged during which the supervisor should explain in detail the reasons for the verbal notice. The supervisor should state the problem, listen to the employee's response, and encourage the employee to make suggestions for correcting the problem. The meeting should end with a plan of action for correcting the problem.

Written Notice

If, in the judgment of a supervisor, a verbal notice does not correct the problem, a written notice may be given to the employee. This notice should describe the problem and the action required to correct it. The employee should be given an opportunity to discuss the notice with the supervisor and should be advised of the right to make a written reply. Copies of the notice and the employee's reply should be placed in the employee's file, both in the employing department and in Human Resources.

Written Counseling and Corrective Probation

An employee may be placed on corrective probation for a period up to, but not to exceed, six months when in the judgment of a supervisor such action is warranted because of unsatisfactory work performance or behavior. (Corrective probation may be extended up to one year with approval of Human Resources.)

The supervisor should complete a counseling form or other written document and schedule a meeting with the employee during which the document should be discussed. The supervisor should also establish a reasonable time frame during which the problem causing the probation must be corrected. The employee should be advised that immediate improvement is expected and that employment until the end of the probation is not assured unless progress is made.

During the probation period the supervisor and the employee should meet at regularly scheduled times to discuss the employee's progress in meeting expectations. These meetings should be followed by a written summary prepared by the supervisor, addressed to the employee and signed by the supervisor.

Copies of the counseling form and of the summaries of the probationary meetings should be placed in the employee file, both in the employing department and in Human Resources.

Special rules of employment apply to employees on corrective probation:

  • An employee on corrective probation is ineligible for promotion or for a salary increase.
  • An employee on corrective probation is not eligible for transfer.
  • An employee granted leave while on corrective probation may have probation extended by the number of days of leave.
  • An employee may be placed on corrective probation upon returning to work after a suspension without pay, provided the employee was notified of the probation when the suspension was imposed.

Suspension Without Pay

NOTE: Suspending an employee without pay requires prior approval from Human Resources

Suspension without pay is appropriate when other efforts to correct unsatisfactory work performance or behavior have failed. It is also appropriate as a first corrective action when the immediate supervisor considers the unsatisfactory work performance or behavior to be serious enough to warrant a severe penalty.

After considering the circumstances and the employee's explanation, the supervisor, with the assistance of Human Resources, decides whether to implement the suspension. The period of suspension is without pay and should normally not exceed five workdays. Suspension without pay is implemented by a written notice to the employee of the suspension and the reasons for the action. If an employee is to be placed on corrective probation upon return to work, that fact must be included in the written notice.

Employees on suspension will not be granted vacation, sick, or holiday leave, nor may they use compensatory time previously earned to avoid being without pay.

Demotion

NOTE: Demoting an employee requires prior approval from Human Resources.

An employee may be demoted to a position of a lower salary grade as a corrective action. Departments should consult with Human Resources before pursuing this option. When a demotion occurs for corrective reasons, the employee's salary will be reduced by a minimum of five percent. The employee's salary must be within the established pay range of the new salary grade. Written notice of the demotion and reduction in pay stating the reasons for the action must be given to the employee, with copies placed in the employee's files, both in the employing department and in Human Resources.

Dismissal For Cause

NOTE: Any action to dismiss an employee for cause requires prior approval from Human Resources.

In cases involving serious acts or omissions contrary to standards of work performance or in cases involving serious employee misconduct, a regular office/service or managerial/professional employee may be dismissed from employment for cause, and in such cases UNL may terminate the employment relationship immediately or with less notice than is otherwise required by Resignation and Dismissal. In cases of dismissal for cause the employee shall be given due process of law prior to and after the dismissal decision.

Dismissal for Cause During a Corrective Probation Employees may be dismissed for cause at any time during corrective probation if there is not satisfactory progress to correct the problem which caused the employee to be placed on corrective probation.

NOTE: However, corrective probation is not a necessary condition precedent to a dismissal for cause.

Right to Appeal Corrective Action

Regular employees may appeal all corrective actions, including dismissal for cause, through the UNL grievance procedure (see Grievance Procedure.). Appeal by the employee, however, will not postpone the action.