Policy Redesign Project

All policies and procedures are being reviewed as part of this project. This document is pending review, but remains in effect until the review is carried out.

Discipline - Professional Staff

Establishment: Council, 28 October 1999 
Last Amended: 7 August 2014 - Enterprise Agreement 2014 to 2017
Nature of Amendment: Update to terminology
Date Last Reviewed:  
Respoonsible Officer: Director, Human Resources

ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT 2014–2017, CLAUSE B16 DISCIPLINE - PROFESSIONAL STAFF

B16.1 [Scope] This clause applies to all general staff other than those serving a probationary period and staff employed on casual basis.

B16.2 [Prior opportunity to remedy concerns] Action under this clause will not normally be taken unless a staff member has been given prior opportunity to remedy concerns about performance and/or conduct under clause B14.6.

B16.3 [Unsatisfactory Work Performance] means incompetence, negligence or failure to achieve the expected standard of performance in the specified position description or statement of duties for the position held.

B16.4 [Unsatisfactory Conduct] means:

B16.4.1 conduct which constitutes an impediment to the satisfactory performance of the work of the staff member or other staff members in the work area;

B16.4.2 failure to comply with a reasonable instruction given by the supervisor of the staff member or other person with authority to direct the staff member;

B16.4.3 conduct which is detrimental to the University, students, members of the public or users of the area;

B16.4.4 action which is prejudicial to the health, welfare or safety of other staff, students or members of the public.

B16.5 [Disciplinary Action] means action by the University to discipline a staff member for unsatisfactory work performance or unsatisfactory conduct, and may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following: formal censure, withholding of an increment, demotion and termination of employment.

B16.6 [Written warning/s] A staff member will normally be provided with three written warnings before disciplinary action is taken. Notwithstanding, a final warning may be issued at an earlier stage, where the nature of the unsatisfactory work performance or conduct has a potential, or actual, serious and detrimental impact on the University. This may be particularly relevant, but is not restricted to, instances involving unsatisfactory conduct.

B16.7 [Written advice] If matters are satisfactorily resolved at any stage under B15.7, the staff member will be so advised in writing.

B16.8 [Review by Director, Human Resources] Where work performance or conduct concerns have not been resolved under B16.7, the supervisor will make a report to the Director, Human Resources.  The Director, Human Resources will satisfy herself/himself that the appropriate procedures have been followed and determine whether to:

B16.8.1 dismiss the matter; or

B16.8.2 take no further action; or

B16.8.3 take disciplinary action.

B16.9 [Decision to terminate employment] Where the Director, Human Resources determines discipline action in the form of termination of the staff member's employment, approval will be sought from the Senior Vice-President prior to the action being taken.

B16.10 [Summary Action] Summary action in the form of suspension or dismissal may be taken by the University where there exist conditions of a sufficiently serious nature with respect to unsatisfactory conduct. Termination without notice may be provided where conditions exist that are of a sufficiently serious nature with respect to unsatisfactory conduct.

B16.11 [Termination of employment] The University will only terminate the employment of a staff member under the relevant clauses of this Agreement.

B16.12 [Grievance] A grievance in relation to any decision taken under this clause may be lodged where a staff member believes there has been a serious error in the procedure followed leading to disciplinary action taken and where such disciplinary action changes the staff member’s employment conditions or changes significantly the staff member’s responsibilities.  Where a Grievance Committee is established, it will be established under Clause A33 of this Agreement.

B16.13 [Natural justice principles] Action taken under this clause will be in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

B16.14 [Procedures] Action taken under this clause will be guided by the University’s Disciplinary Procedures for Professional Staff.

B16.15 [Matters not able to be challenged] Other than the circumstances described in B15.13, all intermediate steps and decisions taken in accordance with this clause or related provisions may not be challenged via any other review, appeal or dispute provision of this Agreement other than in an external court or tribunal that would be competent to deal with the matter. 


Policy

1.  Introduction

This policy and the procedures which follow, are intended to assist both academic and professional staff members who have supervisory responsibilities of members of the professional staff when faced with the problem of unsatisfactory work performance or unsatisfactory conduct in the work place, and to guide those supervisors in taking appropriate action.

They are also intended to provide members of the professional staff whose work performance or conduct is identified as unsatisfactory with a clear understanding of the disciplinary process and their rights under that process. 

 

2.  Application of the Principles of Natural Justice

2.1  all parties will have the right to be heard;

2.2  acts or omissions in work performance or conduct will be managed thoroughly and justly, including consideration of mitigating circumstances;

2.3  the standard of work performance or conduct required will be made clear to the staff member by documentation or interviews;

2.4  excepting cases where summary suspension of duties or dismissal is warranted, a staff member will be counselled and given reasonable opportunity to improve their conduct and performance;

2.5  either party has the right to be accompanied by a representative at discussions or interviews taking place;

2.6  when a complaint about performance or conduct is brought to the supervisor's attention by a third party, the substance of the complaint will be verified before any action is taken on the matter;

2.7  the possible implications of continued unsatisfactory work performance or unsatisfactory conduct will be advised at the relevant (formal) stages of the disciplinary procedures. 

 

3.  Representation

A staff member may be assisted by a person in accordance with Clause A6 of the prevailing Flinders University Enterprise Agreement.

 

Procedures

4.  Disciplinary Procedures - Stages

The disciplinary procedures are normally in two stages:

Stage 1: Written Warnings;
Stage 2: Review and Action by the Director, Human Resources and/or any summary action taken by the University.

 

5.  Stage 1: Written Warnings

The supervisor will inform the Director, Human Resources before serving a written warning on the staff member.  Prior to a formal warning being served on a staff member, the Director, Human Resources will satisfy himself/herself that the circumstances under which the warning is being served are appropriate, including that any mitigating circumstances provided by or on behalf of the staff member have been given due consideration.

5.1  First Warning

The supervisor will serve a first warning, in writing, on the staff member. The first warning will take the form of a statement of all the reasons for the dissatisfaction, propose a period usually not exceeding one month unless otherwise agreed between the parties for monitoring the progress of the performance or standard of conduct required of the staff member and, where appropriate, specify training activities or support which could assist the staff member.

5.1.1  Interview between supervisor and staff member

The first warning will normally be served at an interview that will be conducted between the supervisor and the staff member.

5.1.2  Record of interview

At the conclusion of the interview, a record will be prepared by the supervisor which specifies any agreed outcomes reached at the interview, any additional training or support which the staff member believes useful and, if desired, any additional comment/statement from the staff member. This record, together with a copy of the written warning, will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.1.3  Specified outcomes met

If the staff member meets the specified outcomes set, during the period agreed, the matter will be deemed to be resolved and a statement to that effect, signed by both the supervisor and the staff member, will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.2  Second Warning

If the performance or standard of conduct specified in the first warning is not achieved to the satisfaction of the supervisor, or a sustained or recurrent pattern of unsatisfactory conduct or performance becomes evident, despite related matters being addressed under 5.1, the supervisor may serve a second warning, in writing, upon the staff member.  This warning will state the reasons for the dissatisfaction and will propose a further period, usually not exceeding one month unless otherwise agreed between the parties, for monitoring the progress and the performance standard required of the staff member and, where appropriate, specify training activities or support which could assist the staff member.

5.2.1  Interview between supervisor and staff member

The second warning will normally be served at an interview that will be conducted between the supervisor and the staff member.

5.2.2  Record of interview

At the conclusion of the interview, a record will be prepared by the supervisor which specifies any agreed outcomes reached at the interview, and, if desired, any additional comment/statement from the staff member. This record, together with a copy of the written warning, will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.2.3  Specified outcomes met

If the staff member meets the specified outcomes set, during the period agreed, the matter will be deemed to be resolved and a statement to that effect, signed by both the supervisor and the staff member, will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.3  Final Warning

While it is expected that a final written warning will follow at least one and up to two previous written warnings, it may be necessary for a final warning to be issued at an earlier stage, where the nature of the unsatisfactory performance or conduct has a potential or actual serious and detrimental impact on the University.  This may be particularly relevant, but not restricted, to instances involving unsatisfactory conduct.

5.3.1  Interview between supervisor and staff member

If the performance or standard of conduct specified in the previous warning(s) is not achieved to the satisfaction of the supervisor, or a sustained or recurrent pattern of unsatisfactory conduct or performance becomes evident, despite related matters being addressed under 5.1 and/or 5.2, a final warning may be issued, in writing, to the staff member and an interview will be conducted between the supervisor and the staff member.  At this interview the supervisor will:

5.3.1.1  state clearly the reasons for the final warning;

5.3.1.2  specify a reasonable date for rectification of the matter(s) specified in the earlier warning(s); and

5.3.1.3  confirm that the staff member understands the disciplinary action which may be applied should the desired improvement not be achieved by the specified date.

5.3.2  Record of interview

At the conclusion of the interview, a record will be prepared by the supervisor which specifies any agreed outcomes reached at the interview and, if desired, additional comment/statement from the staff member. This record, together with a copy of the written warning, will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.3.3  Matter resolved

If the matter is resolved within the period set in 5.3.1, a jointly signed statement to that effect will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

5.3.4  Supervisor’s report

If the matter is not resolved within the period set in 5.3.1, a report will be prepared within seven days by the supervisor for the Director, Human Resources for consideration of disciplinary action.

 

6.  Stage 2: Review and Action by Director, Human Resources

A matter which may result in disciplinary action against a staff member and which is not resolved under the provisions set out in 5, will be considered by the Director, Human Resources, based on the report provided for under 5.3.4.

6.1  Appropriateness of process

The Director, Human Resources will satisfy herself/himself that the appropriate warning steps have been taken by the supervisor and that, where appropriate, an adequate opportunity has been provided to the staff member to rectify their work performance or conduct; and will conduct any other investigations deemed necessary.  The Director, Human Resources may then decide to:

6.1.1  dismiss the matter;

6.1.2  take no further action; or

6.1.3  take disciplinary action.

6.2  Approval of Senior Vice-President

If the Director, Human Resources determines that disciplinary action is warranted, the approval of the Senior Vice-President will be sought prior to such action being taken.

6.3  Advice in writing to staff member and supervisor

The Director, Human Resources will advise the staff member and supervisor in writing of the decision and the reasons for the decision within seven days of receiving the report provided for under 5.3.4.  A copy of this decision will be placed on the staff member's confidential staff file.

6.4  Suspension

If disciplinary action in the form of suspension is determined under 6.1, the staff member will be suspended and the procedures outlined in 6.6.1 to 6.6.4 will be instituted.

6.5  Termination

If disciplinary action in the form of termination of employment is determined under 6.1, action will be taken in accordance with 6.7.

6.6  Summary Action

If the Director, Human Resources, upon receiving a report from a supervisor on a matter of unsatisfactory conduct, considers that there exist conditions that are of a sufficiently serious nature with respect to unsatisfactory conduct to warrant summary action, a recommendation will be made to the Senior Vice-President that the staff member be summarily suspended from duties or summarily dismissed.

6.6.1  Summary Suspension

The staff member will be notified in writing of the suspension from duty. Such notice will specify:

6.6.1.1  a date or the happening of an event that will mark the end of the period of suspension; and

6.6.1.2  the grounds upon which suspension are considered to be warranted.

6.6.2  Investigation

The Director, Human Resources will initiate an investigation into the matter resulting in the staff member's suspension during which the staff member will have the opportunity to make a case in response to the matter under investigation. The staff member will normally be allowed five working days to provide a written response.

6.6.3  Access to University property by suspended staff member

A staff member who has been suspended from duty will not have access to, or remain on, University property without the written permission of the Director, Human Resources or a delegated officer. The staff member will be permitted reasonable access to the University as specified by the Director, Human Resources for the preparation of a response to the complaint specified in the notice served pursuant to 6.6.1 and to collect personal property.

6.6.4  Determination by Director, Human Resources

At the conclusion of the investigation, normally no longer than 28 days from the date of suspension of the staff member, the Director, Human Resources will determine, and where appropriate, seek the approval of the Senior Vice-President, that:

6.6.4.1  no further disciplinary action is taken and the staff member is reinstated to their position, or

6.6.4.2  alternative disciplinary action is taken and the staff member is reinstated to their position, or

6.6.4.3  alternative disciplinary action is taken and/or the staff member is transferred to another position in the University; or

6.6.4.4  the staff member's employment be terminated.

6.6.5  Summary Dismissal

Upon the recommendation of the Director, Human Resources, the Senior Vice-President may terminate without notice the employment of a staff member where conditions exist that are of a sufficiently serious nature with respect to unsatisfactory conduct.

6.7  Termination of Employment

If, after consideration of the report provided for in 5.3.4, the Director, Human Resources finds that termination of employment is warranted, the approval of the Senior Vice-President will be sought prior to such action being taken

6.8  Written Advice

Where termination of employment is considered to be warranted, the staff member will be advised in writing of this decision. Termination of employment will come into immediate effect from the date specified in this written advice.

 

7.  Record Keeping

Written records relating to any action taken under these formal procedures will be kept on a staff member's confidential staff file.  The period over which such records must be held by the University will be in accordance with the requirements of the State Records Act 1997, as varied from time to time. 

 

8.  Grievance

A grievance may be taken only in accordance with B15.12 of the prevailing Flinders University Enterprise Agreement and must be lodged within seven (7) days of the notification of the decision.

8.1  Commencement of grievance procedures

Where a staff member lodges a formal grievance in accordance with Clause B15.12 of the prevailing Flinders University Enterprise Agreement, the procedures of the Individual Staff Grievance Policy will not normally commence until the disciplinary proceedings are finalised.