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Performance Improvement Process

Policy Number: HR-43
Effective Date: July 2002
Last Revision: September 2009
Responsible Official: Senior Vice President of Student Life and Administrative Services

I. PURPOSE

This policy identifies the proactive and progressive actions a supervisor may take when an employee’s performance, attendance, or behavior is unsatisfactory (e.g., does not meet the performance or competency expectations of the position).

This policy is not intended to create a contract of employment or to change the employment-at-will relationship that exists between Drexel and its employees. As an at-will employer, Drexel reserves the right to discipline and terminate professional staff at any time with or without cause and to modify, at any time, the terms and conditions of employment (without limitation to salaries, work schedules, work duties, etc.).



II. POLICY

When an employee’s performance, attendance, or behavior is unsatisfactory, the supervisor will advise the employee of the issue(s) and give him/her an appropriate opportunity to improve to an acceptable level through the Performance Improvement Process, subject to the other provisions of this policy. When a supervisor determines there is an unacceptable performance, attendance, or behavior issue(s) with an employee, the supervisor shall document the issue(s) and required change(s) in a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and share the plan with the employee in a face-to-face meeting. Should the employee’s performance, attendance, or behavior fail to improve as specified by the PIP, the employee will be subject to further action, up to and including termination.

The University encourages supervisors to use proactive and progressive action whenever possible to improve performance (e.g., to apply the actions outlined in the Performance Improvement Process progressively and sequentially); however depending on the nature, frequency, and severity of the issues, and an employee’s work history, a supervisor has the freedom to determine what progressive actions are necessary and to take the action deemed to be appropriate under the circumstances.

Consultation with Human Resources is strongly advised prior to any Performance Improvement Plan beyond Counseling and is required prior to Termination.



III. APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all non-faculty employees not affiliated with collective bargaining units.

IV. DEFINITIONS

Performance Improvement Process: any official action taken by management to improve unsatisfactory employee performance, attendance, or behavior. These actions include Counseling, Written Warning, Written Warning with Probation, and Termination. Each action in the performance improvement process is documented in the Performance Improvement Plan.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP): the form used to describe any action in the Performance Improvement Process, from Counseling through Termination. The supervisor uses the PIP to describe the performance, behavior, or attendance problem, outline specific improvements that are needed, and provide a timeframe for improvements to be made. Note: At the employee’s request, Performance Improvement Plans that are more than two years old will be removed from his/her personnel file.

Counseling: a formal conversation between a supervisor and an employee used to inform the employee that an issue exists with his/her performance, attendance, or behavior and to detail the precise action needed by the employee to address the identified issues. It is often the first action taken in the Performance Improvement Process.

Written Warning: a serious, formal, documented discussion between a supervisor and an employee used to inform an employee about his/her unsatisfactory performance, attendance, or behavior and to detail specific improvements that are needed. A Written Warning may be used:

  1. When Counseling has not been effective in bringing about identified performance improvements.
  2. To address repeated and/or ongoing work-related issue(s).
  3. As the first action taken in the Performance Improvement Process when the performance, behavior, or attendance issue or circumstances warrant(s) this response.

Written Warning with Probation: a serious, formal, documented discussion between a supervisor and an employee used to inform an employee about his/her unsatisfactory performance, attendance, or behavior and detail specific improvements that are needed. It includes a specific period of probation (e.g., 30, 60, or 90 days) during which the employee’s performance, attendance, or behavior must improve or a recommendation for termination may be made. A Written Warning with Probation may be used:

  1. When Counseling and/or a Written Warning has/have not been effective in bringing about identified performance improvements.
  2. To address repeated and/or ongoing work-related issue(s).
  3. As the first action taken in the Performance Improvement Process when the performance, behavior, or attendance issue or circumstances warrant this response.

Termination of Employment: is an option in the Performance Improvement Process that may be used:

  1. When an employee fails to improve his/her performance, attendance, or behavior through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), or
  2. Immediately, without prior notice or without a prior PIP, in instances of gross misconduct or serious negligence or circumstances under which the supervisor, in consultation with Human Resources, determines that the nature, frequency or severity of the work-related problem warrants such action.

Administrative Leave: temporary removal from the work environment of an employee by Human Resources, with or without pay, following an allegation of misconduct that requires an investigation and review of the related facts. Administrative Leave will occur prior to initiating a PIP.

Gross Misconduct or Serious Negligence: any behavior(s), action(s) or lack of action by an employee, that warrant(s) serious disciplinary action or acceleration of the PIP including, but not limited to:

  • Negligence or failure to attend to customer needs that has the potential to cause harm to a customer, fellow employee, patient, visitor, or student.
  • Insubordination, which is defined as refusal to carry out a specific, legal, and work-related directive or request issued by an appropriate manager.
  • Inappropriate or unauthorized release, discussion, or disclosure of confidential information.
  • Unauthorized possession, use, theft, or damage to property of the University, fellow employees, students, visitors, and/or patients.
  • Unauthorized possession, use, consumption, sale, or transfer of illegal drugs or alcohol, weapons, or explosives on University property or while fulfilling the duties of a University employee.
  • Reporting to work under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. (See policy on Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace.)
  • Falsifying and/or omitting information on University records and/or requests for information, including but not limited to employment applications, time and attendance records, and patient medical records.
  • Violation of any law, policy, regulation, or practice, including those related to principles of customer service and/or the Code of Conduct.
  • Excessive absenteeism or tardiness or leaving the work area or University premises without prior permission of supervisor/manager. (See policy on Attendance.)
  • Sleeping while on work time.
  • Actual or threatened violence in the workplace. (See Workplace Anti-Violence Policy).
  • Unlawful or improper conduct while on work time.
  • Conviction of a crime which may call into question the employee’s ability to properly carry out the responsibilities of his/her position.


V. PROCEDURES 

  1. Performance Improvement Process
    The Performance Improvement Process has four (4) formal steps:
      1. Counseling
      2. Written Warning
      3. Written Warning with Probation
      4. Termination
    • The University reserves the right to determine what actions are appropriate and in what order such actions are to be taken depending on the facts and circumstances of the situation.
    • In order to identify the appropriate action to take in the process, the supervisor should take into account:
      • The number, variety, and frequency of performance, attendance, or behavior issues involved.
      • The seriousness of the issue(s).
      • The employee’s work history.
      • The employee’s response to prior Performance Improvement Plans.
    • The supervisor must use a PIP to document any action taken in the Performance Improvement Process. The PIP is to be filled out completely and signed by both the supervisor and the employee (note: signatures are not required for Counseling). If the employee refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the employee’s signature line.
    • Each of the actions in the Performance Improvement Process is detailed below.
    1. Counseling
      1. Prior to the Counseling session, the supervisor will complete a PIP.
        1. During the Counseling session, the supervisor should:
        2. Provide the employee with a copy of the PIP.
        3. Clearly and concisely explain the performance issue(s) that need to be improved, providing examples.
        4. Communicate expectations for change, including the timeframe.
        5. Answer employee questions and address his/her concerns.
        6. Offer the employee the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      2. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and employee should agree upon a date and time to meet to review progress.
        2. If the employee disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the employee that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor will place a copy of the Counseling PIP in the employee’s Departmental file. (Human Resources does not require a copy of a Counseling PIP at this time).
      3. After the meeting, and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and employee should meet to assess the employee’s progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If the employee’s performance has not improved or shown sustained improvement or if new problems have developed during the timeframe established in the PIP, the supervisor will consult with the appropriate HR Partner and will decide the appropriate action to take in the Performance Improvement Process (e.g., Written Warning, Written Warning with Probation, or Termination).
    2. Written Warning
      1. Before having a performance discussion with the employee and issuing a Written Warning, the supervisor:
        1. Should consult with the appropriate HR Partner. If desired, the supervisor may also request that the HR Partner participate in the performance discussion.
        2. Will document the specific performance, attendance, or behavior issue(s) and improvements needed in a PIP, indicating that this is a Written Warning. Observations should be supported with examples and documentation, when available, including the PIP used for Counseling.
      2. During the performance discussion in which a Written Warning is issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the employee with a copy of the PIP.
        2. Clearly and concisely explain the performance issues that need to be improved, providing examples.
        3. Communicate expectations for change, including the timeframe.
        4. Answer employee questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the employee the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      3. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and employee should sign the PIP. If the employee refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the employee’s signature line.
        2. If the employee disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the employee that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor should make a copy of the PIP for the employee, a copy for the employee’s departmental file, and a copy for Human Resources. A copy of the signed and dated PIP detailing the Written Warning and a copy of any related Counseling PIPs (if applicable) must be sent to Human Resources.
        4. The supervisor and employee should agree to meet regularly to review progress.
      4. After the Written Warning is issued, and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and employee should meet regularly to assess the employee’s progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If the employee’s performance has met the goals and expectations described in the PIP, the supervisor will document that s/he has successfully completed the PIP.
        4. If the employee’s performance has not improved or shown sustained improvement or if new problems have developed during the timeframe outlined in the PIP, the supervisor will consult with the appropriate HR Partner and will decide the appropriate action to take in the Performance Improvement Process (e.g., Written Warning with Probation, or Termination).
    3. Written Warning with Probation
      1. Before having a performance discussion with the employee and issuing a Written Warning with Probation, the supervisor:
        1. Should consult with the appropriate HR Partner. If desired, the supervisor may also request that the HR Partner participate in the performance discussion.
        2. Will document the specific performance, attendance, or behavior issue and improvements needed in a PIP, indicating that this is a Written Warning with Probation. Observations should be supported with documentation, including the PIP used for Counseling and/or Written Warning.
      2. During the performance discussion in which a Written Warning with Probation is issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the employee with a copy of the PIP.
        2. Clearly and concisely explain the performance issues that need to be improved, providing examples.
        3. Communicate expectations for change, including the timeframe.
        4. Answer employee questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the employee the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      3. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and employee should sign the PIP. If the employee refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the employee’s signature line.
        2. If the employee disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the employee that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor should make a copy of the PIP for the employee, a copy for the employee’s departmental file, and forward the original to Human Resources along with any supporting documents including any related Counseling or Written Warning (if applicable).
        4. The supervisor and employee should agree to meet regularly to review progress.
      4. After the Written Warning with Probation is issued, and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and employee should meet regularly to assess the employee’s progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If employee’s performance has met the goals and expectations described in the PIP, the supervisor will document that s/he has successfully completed the PIP.
        4. If the employee’s performance has not improved or shown sustained improvement or if new problems have developed during the timeframe outlined in the PIP, the supervisor will consult with the appropriate HR Partner and will decide the appropriate action to take in the Performance Improvement Process (e.g., continue the Written Warning with Probation by extending the probationary period or Termination).
    4. Termination of Employment
      1. Before terminating an employee:
        1. If Termination of Employment appears to be warranted, as described in Section IV, the supervisor must consult with the appropriate HR Partner to review the circumstances and related documentation.
        2. Once approved by Human Resources, the supervisor will complete a PIP for termination, and a termination letter will be prepared by the HR Partner. This letter will include the general reason(s) for the Termination of Employment, the effective date of termination, and applicable information regarding final pay, continuation of benefits, preliminary retirement plan distribution and any other matters deemed appropriate.
      2. The Termination Meeting:
        1. The supervisor will meet with the employee privately to inform him/her of the termination decision and to provide him/her with the PIP and the termination letter from Human Resources. When possible, this will be done in the presence of the appropriate HR Partner or designee.
        2. At the termination meeting, the supervisor and the employee will sign the PIP. If the employee refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the employee’s signature line. The supervisor will make a copy of the PIP for the employee, a copy for the employee’s departmental file, and send the original to Human Resources along with a copy of any supporting documents including those used in previous stages of the Performance Improvement Process (if applicable).
        3. At the termination meeting the supervisor will collect from the employee the items outlined in the Termination Checklist to be provided by Human Resources.
      3. Following the termination meeting, the supervisor will complete the Termination Checklist and a Personnel Action Form and submit both to Human Resources.
  2. Administrative Leave Pending Investigation
    • It may, at times, be necessary for Human Resources to conduct an investigation prior to implementing a Performance Improvement Plan. When an investigation is warranted, the HR Partner will place the employee on Administrative Leave, with or without pay, pending completion of the investigation. An investigation should be completed as soon as reasonably possible. During an administrative leave, all Drexel property in the possession of the employee (Dragon card, keys, etc.) should be collected and notice is to be given by the supervisor or his/her designee to the Information Resources & Technology (IRT) department to suspend access to systems until the investigation is complete.
      1. At the conclusion of the investigation, if the employee is found to be at fault, appropriate action should be taken, up to and including termination.
      2. If the employee is terminated, the period of the investigation is without pay and the employee’s last day should be listed as the last day worked.
      3. If it is determined that termination is not warranted but performance improvement is needed, the employee should be reinstated with pay for the period of the investigation and, if necessary, an appropriate PIP should be implemented.
      4. At the conclusion of the investigation, if the employee is found not to be at fault, and action is not warranted, the investigator should provide written notice of his/her findings to the employee and the employee should be reinstated with pay for the period of the investigation.

    Inquiries regarding this policy can be directed to the Human Resources Department.