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​Section 803: Corrective Discipline

Date issued: 17/11/1982
Revision Date: 01/03/2013

Purpose

Set out the process to correct employee misconduct.

Policy

Corrective Discipline is applied using a progressive discipline model which utilizes disciplinary steps, increasing in severity upon reoccurrences of misconduct. The Policy applies where an instance of culpable misconduct has occurred; culpable misconduct is behavior that has the following characteristics:

  • The employee knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, the standards of conduct;
  • The employee is capable of meeting that standard;
  • The employee behaves in a manner that does not meet the standard.

Efforts to correct misconduct by employees will:

  • Identify incidents of misconduct to employees as they occur;
  • Identify the expected behavior;
  • Prompt the employee to adopt the expected behavior;
  • Indicate the job consequences that may occur;
  • Include, if necessary, disciplinary sanctions.

Employees are responsible for their behavior. The conduct resulting in discipline is for the employee to resolve; failure to do so will place employment at risk.

Application

All employees appointed under The Public Service Act

Guidelines

Procedures, guidelines and training material regarding the application of this policy are available from Labour Relations.

Authority

PSA Part 5, Section 27 and 28
SGEU Article 20
CUPE 600 Article 7

Inquiries

For inquiries, please contact the Human Resource Service Centre.

Related Policies

PS 804 Performance Improvement Policy 

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Section 803: Corrective Discipline Guidelines

Date issued: 17/11/1982
Revision Date: 01/03/2013

Introduction

Employees are expected to contribute toward the achievement of the organization's goals and objectives. When an employee's behavior/performance is unsatisfactory, corrective action must be taken. Corrective action will follow the process of corrective discipline when the situation is a result of inappropriate behavior or unsatisfactory performance when the employee has the ability to perform at an acceptable level but chooses not to do so.

Definitions
Administrative Leave During an Investigation is the temporary removal of an employee from the place of duty, with or without pay, to facilitate an investigation. The allegations of misconduct must be of such significance that maintaining the employee in the workplace poses a serious risk to the employer and/or co-workers, or is necessary to maintain public confidence.

Culpable Misconduct is inappropriate and/or unprofessional behavior or conduct where the employee;

  • Knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, the standards of conduct;
  • Is capable of meeting those standards;
  • Behaves in a manner that does not meet standards.

Disciplinary Suspension is the temporary removal without pay of an employee from the place of duty to stress upon the employee the seriousness of the misconduct and the need to correct the behavior.

Dismissal is the termination, at the employer's discretion, of an employee's employment for cause.
Letter of Discipline is a written warning that the employees conduct is unacceptable and must be corrected. A copy of the letter is placed on the Employee's file, becoming part of the employee's record.

Standards of Conduct are established work rules or orders set out by the Employer including the oath of office and the Information Technology Acceptable Use policy, or other (e.g. taking coffee breaks according to a posted rotational schedule, seeking advance approval for all absences). Standards also include activity and behavior that an individual ought to reasonably know is inappropriate and unacceptable (e.g. theft, intentional damage to property, treating co-workers and the public with disrespect).






Reason for Discipline
The Manager must inform an employee of the standards of conduct that apply in the workplace.  An employee may be disciplined for breaching standards of conduct.

It is inappropriate to allow other employees to witness the discipline of a co-worker. Interviews involving discipline must be held in private and scheduled in advance to provide an opportunity for the employee to obtain Union representation if desired.

Record Discussions and Meetings
The Manager should take notes of all discussion and meetings.

No Undue Delay
Disciplinary action should not be unduly delayed.

Disciplinary Steps
The typical progression of disciplinary measures for the Government of Saskatchewan (the Employer) is as follows:

  • Verbal warning;
  • Letter of discipline;
  • Suspension; and
  • Dismissal

For an employee on probation, the progressive discipline process indicated above may be accelerated. Incidents of serious misconduct (such as assault, theft or serious insubordination) may warrant serious disciplinary measures, and steps of the progressive discipline process may be by-passed and/or a longer period of suspension issued. Some instances may require the involvement of an outside agency such as the police or other regulatory/enforcement agency.

Disciplinary steps may be repeated on the advice of the Public Service Commission in cases involving significant mitigating factors.

Determining the Appropriate Discipline
In determining the appropriate disciplinary step to address an employee's misconduct, the following factors should be considered:

  • The employee's length of service;
  • The employee's past discipline record;
  • The seriousness of the misconduct;
  • The employee's explanation; and
  • Any other pertinent facts.

Managers should review their Ministry's designated authorities for imposing discipline. If the employee fails to correct the behavior/performance, the discipline imposed increases with each incident as follows:

Step 1 - Verbal Warning

The warning must be given in private and must address the area of concern including the possible outcome if the behavior/performance is not corrected. The Manager will identify the gap between the desired behavior/performance and the problematic behavior/performance. The employee is given an opportunity to provide his or her version of the events. The manager should take notes on the discussion that took place, as they may be needed if it is necessary to move on to the next step. These notes are not placed in the employee’s personnel file, but are used for the purpose of refreshing the Manager’s memory. The Manager’s notes are kept in a secure and locked location.

Step 2 - Letter of Discipline

The Manager is encouraged to consult with their Human Resources Service Team before proceeding. The letter should include actions that may be taken if the inappropriate behavior/performance continues. The Manager schedules a meeting with the employee to discuss the issue. The Manager will identify the gap between the desired behavior/performance and the problematic behavior/ performance. The employee is given an opportunity to provide his or her version of the events. The letter should be given in private. A copy is placed in the employee’s file and a copy is sent to the Union except where the employee requests in writing the Union is not to be copied (SGEU only).

Step 3 - Disciplinary Suspension
Permanent Heads have authority to suspend employees. This authority can be delegated. The Permanent Head (or designate), upon reviewing the recommendation of the Manager, administers disciplinary suspensions. The Manager makes the recommendation for suspension after looking into the matter and discussing it with the employee. The employee has the right to have a Union representative present. Suspensions are applied progressively, but should be appropriate to the seriousness of the misconduct; e.g. the first suspension is for one day. The next incident might be a five day suspension, and then a ten day suspension. After the final suspension, dismissal would be considered. Labour Relations should be consulted for advice on any matters where a suspension is being considered.

Step 4 - Dismissal
The Manager, with assistance from the Human Resource Consultant and in consultation with labour Relations, after investigating the matter and hearing the employee's explanation provides the Permanent Headwith a comprehensive briefing so the Permanent Head can make an informed decision if dismissal is warranted.

Removal From the Workplace
1. Immediate Removal
An Employee may be required to leave the workplace immediately in circumstances where a continued presence is not-advisable or poses a risk to the employee, other employees or the Employer’s operation; e.g. the employee is or appears to be emotionally distraught or in a state of volatility. Such removals are with pay, for the remainder of the day. A meeting to discuss the situation is held with the employee prior to beginning work on their next scheduled day.

2. Administrative Leave During an Investigation
A. Administrative Leave With Pay

Administrative leave with pay during an investigation is the temporary removal of the employee from the workplace with pay pending the conclusion of the investigative process respecting the alleged culpable misconduct. Such removal is reserved for situations where keeping the employee at the workplace would be contrary to the Employer’s interests.

Reasons for removing an employee include situations where remaining at the work site may:

  • Lead to a repetition of the alleged culpable misconduct;
  • Seriously affect performance or morale of other employees;
  • Detrimentally affect relationships with the public or clients; or
  • Result in the employee having the opportunity to tamper with evidence, impede the discovery of facts through investigation or otherwise hamper the investigation.

Where appropriate, every effort should be made to reassign the employee to a different location if the investigation is expected to last for an extended period.

1Normally, the Permanent Head authorizes a dismissal. however, where it involves in-scope employees, that authority can be delegated

B. Administrative Leave Without Pay
In exceptional circumstances an employee may be removed from the workplace without pay as an interim step pending further investigation and consideration of how the employee should be dealt with. Administrative leave without pay should only be considered after consultation with the Public service Commission and legal counsel and as an alternative to an immediate dismissal. It is essential that the employee be advised in writing that the administrative leave is an interim step and is imposed pending the final resolution of the matter.

Exceptional circumstances include situations where the allegation of culpable misconduct is very serious such as an allegation of fraud involving significant sums of money.

Filing of Documents
Letters of discipline, letters of suspension and letters of dismissal are copied to an employee's personnel file and to the Union except where the employee requests in writing the Union is not to be copied. Disciplinary letters for employees who are members of the SGEU or CUPE shall be removed in accordance with the respective collective bargaining agreement2, provided that no further disciplinary action has been recorded during that period.

Procedures

1. The Manager informs employees of the standards of particular conduct which apply to the workplace.

a) When standards of conduct are not met and are determined to potentially be culpable, the Manager initiates the disciplinary process.

b) To determine the appropriate course of action, the manager should contact their HR Consultant.

c)
The Manager and an associate hold a private interview with the employee before disciplinary action is taken to do the following: (If the employee is a member of the SGEU, prior to any meeting, the employee must be given notice of the right to Union representation. For members of the CUPE bargaining Unit, attendance of a Union representative is mandatory):

  i) Ensure the employee is aware of the issue;

  ii) Give the employee an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the unsatisfactory performance or the breach of conduct;

  iii) Determine if there are any factors that would result in the conduct being considered non-culpable or culpable; and

  iv) Explain to the employee how management is considering dealing with the misconduct.

d) If an employee within the SGEU Bargaining unit waives his or her right to Union representation, the employee must sign a waiver stating such.

e) The employee is encouraged to use the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP), particularly if the behavior or performance may be resulting from personal circumstances. This should include providing the employee with the number for EFAP [(306) 787-7567 or 787-7563]. An employee is not required to reveal the nature of personal circumstances to the Manager.

f) Depending on the nature of the misconduct, the Manager may speak to witnesses;

g) The Manager makes notes of the interviews. These notes are not placed in the employee's personnel file, but are kept by the Manager in a secure, confidential manner for future reference should the behavior/performance continue;

h) After taking into account all information, including the employee's version of events and the advice of the HR Consultant, the Manager determines the appropriate leave of discipline (if any).

2. All discipline includes:

a) An explanation of the behavior/performance for which the employee is being disciplined;

b) An explanation of the expected behavior/performance; and

c) An explanation to the employee that all disciplinary letters, including reprimands and suspensions, are placed on the employee's personnel file.

d) An explanation to the employee that all disciplinary letters, including reprimands and suspensions, are placed on the employee's personnel file.

3. If warranted, the Manager prepares a letter of discipline. The Manager hand delivers this letter to the employee in the presence of a union representative unless representation is waived (SGEU). A copy is placed in the employee's personnel file.

4. Where a disciplinary suspension is the next step in the progressive discipline procedure, the Manager should:

a) Seek the advice of the HR Consultant; and

b) If warranted by the investigation and/or where the Permanent Head has not delegated the authority to suspend, prepare a report for the Permanent Head.  The report must include a description of the incident, the employee's explanation and any other pertinent details.  The Manager, with the assistance of the HR Consultant, drafts a letter of suspension.

c) If the Permanent Head decides to suspend the employee, he/she signs the letter of suspension.  The Manager hand delivers this letter to the employee in the presence of a union representative except where representation is waived.  A copy is placed on the employee's personnel file.

d) There should be no discussion of the issue when delivering a suspension letter.  The merits of the discipline can be explored during the grievance process, should a grievance be filed.

5. A Permanent Head may consider dismissing an employee as the final step in progressive discipline, or as a result of one act of serious misconduct.  Managers should provide as much information as possible to ensure the Permanent Head makes an informed decision.  Labour Relations, through the HR consultant must be consulted in situations where dismissal is being considered.

a) The Permanent Head reviews the circumstances that may result in the dismissal. The following points are examined during this process:

  i) Does the seriousness or persistence of the issue warrant dismissal? (e.g. misconduct such as theft, fraud, insubordination, dishonesty, breach of trust or progression of lesser but cumulative issues)

  ii) Are there precedents for dealing with similar incidents?

  iii) Was it made clear to the employee that this offence may result in dismissal?

  iv) What is the length of the employee's service?

  v) What is the employee's performance like?

  vi) Was the employee given a chance to provide an explanation for his/her version of the events?

  vii) Are there mitigating factors? (e.g. remorse, extreme stress, illness, and substance or alcohol abuse)

b) After reviewing all of the information, including the written submission (if provided) and consultation with Labour Relations, through the HR consultant, the Permanent Head determines if dismissal is appropriate and informs the employee in writing of his/her dismissal from the Public Service.

c) The letter of dismissal should clearly state the reasons for the dismissal, why further employment cannot continue and that dismissal of the said position is effective immediately.

d) The Manager hand delivers the letter of dismissal to the employee in the presence of a Shop Steward except where representation has been waived (SGEU).

e) There should be no discussion of the matter when delivering a termination letter. The merits of the discipline can be explored during the grievance process, should a grievance be filed.

f) The letter of dismissal is copied to the employee's personnel file, the Manager, the Human Resource Service Team Manager, Labour Relations and the Union, except where the employee requests in writing the Union is not to be copied (SGEU only).

g) A copy of the letter of dismissal is copied to the appropriate HR consultant who will initiate required pay action
Related Policies:
PS 804 Performance Improvement Policy
PS 807 Anti-Harassment Policy
PS 1103 Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy
Authorities and References:
Saskatchewan Public Service Act, 1998
Collective Bargaining Agreement, SGEU and the Government of Saskatchewan
Collective Bargaining Agreement, CUPE Local 600 and Government of Saskatchewan

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If you have any questions or require more information please contact:

HR Service Centre

hrsc@gov.sk.ca

Phone: 1-877-852-5808 or 306-798-0000

Fax: 1-877-852-9219 or 306-798-9966

HR Service Centre Fax Cover Sheet

2100 Broad Street, Regina, SK, S4P 1Y5

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