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Performance Improvement Process

Policy Number: HR-43
Effective Date: January 2017
Responsible Officer: President of Drexel University Online

PURPOSE
This policy identifies the proactive and progressive actions a supervisor may take when a Professional Staff Member'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 University Online (DUO) and its Professional Staff Member. As an at-will employer, DUO 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.).

APPLICABILITY
This policy applies to all eligible Professional Staff Members.

IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Department of Human Resources.

ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT
The President of Drexel University Online is the Drexel University Online official responsible for the administration of this policy.

POLICY
When a Professional Staff Member's performance, attendance or behavior is unsatisfactory, the supervisor will advise the Professional Staff Member 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 the Professional Staff Member, the supervisor shall document the issue(s) and required change(s) in a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and share the plan with the Professional Staff Member in a face-to-face meeting. Should the Professional Staff Member's performance, attendance, or behavior fail to improve as specified by the PIP, the Professional Staff Member will be subject to further action, up to and including termination.

DUO 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 Professional Staff Member'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.

DEFINITIONS

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

Gross Misconduct or Serious Negligence is defined as any behavior(s), action(s) or lack of action by a Professional Staff Member, 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 Professional Staff Member, 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 DUO, fellow Professional Staff Members, students, visitors and/or patients.
  • Unauthorized possession, use, consumption, sale or transfer of illegal drugs or alcohol, weapons or explosives on DUO property or while fulfilling the duties of a DUO Professional Staff Member.
  • 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 DUO 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, tardiness or leaving the work area or DUO premises without prior permission of immediate supervisor. (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 Professional Staff Member's ability to properly carry out the responsibilities of his or her position.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is defined as the written document(s) 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 Professional Staff Member's request, Performance Improvement Plans that are more than two years old may be removed from his/her personnel file.

Performance Improvement Process is defined as any action taken by management to improve unsatisfactory Professional Staff Member performance, attendance or behavior by a Professional Staff Member. These actions include Counseling, Written Warning, Written Warning with Probation, Suspension and Termination. Each action in the Performance Improvement Process is documented in the Performance Improvement Plan.

Professional Staff Member is defined as an individual employed by Drexel University Online, including an individual who is deemed to be either exempt or non-exempt under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or applicable state law.

Suspension is defined as an involuntary, short-term dismissal from the workplace that is unpaid. Suspension is generally for a period of one to five working days. The length of suspension is dependent upon the nature and severity of the infraction or violation. Suspension may be warranted when the Professional Staff Member's performance, attendance or behavior is not at the level of termination but offensive enough to warrant action beyond the Counseling, Written Warning, or Written Warning with Probation.

In cases involving the Suspension of the Professional Staff Member, the supervisor must consult with the HR Partner for review and approval of the action.

Termination of Employment is defined as an involuntary permanent dismissal from the workplace when:

  1. A Professional Staff Member fails to improve his or 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 HR Partner, determines that the nature, frequency or severity of the work-related problem warrants such action.

Written Warning is defined as a serious, formal, documented discussion between a supervisor and a Professional Staff Member used to inform a Professional Staff Member about his or 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 is defined as a serious, formal, documented discussion between a supervisor and a Professional Staff Member used to inform a Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member'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.

PROCEDURES

Performance Improvement Process
The Performance Improvement Process has five (5) formal actions:

  1. Counseling
  2. Written Warning
  3. Written Warning with Probation
  4. Suspension Without Pay
  5. Termination
    • DUO 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 Professional Staff Member's work history.
      • The Professional Staff Member'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 immediate supervisor and the Professional Staff Member (note: signatures are not required for Counseling). If the Professional Staff Member refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the Professional Staff Member's signature line.
    • Each of the actions in the Performance Improvement Process is detailed below.
  1. Counseling
  2. Prior to the Counseling session, the immediate supervisor will complete a PIP.

    1. During the Counseling session, the immediate supervisor should:
      1. Provide the Professional Staff Member with a copy of the PIP.
      2. Clearly and concisely, explain the performance issue(s) that need to be improved, providing examples as necessary for clarity.
      3. Communicate expectations for change, including the timeframe.
      4. Answer the Professional Staff Member questions and address his or her concerns.
      5. Offer the Professional Staff Member the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
    2. At the conclusion of the meeting:
      1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should agree upon a date and time to meet to review progress.
      2. If the Professional Staff Member disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the Professional Member that he or she may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
      3. The supervisor will place a copy of the Counseling PIP in the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member should meet to assess the Professional Staff Member's progress towards identified goals.
      2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
      3. If the Professional Staff Member'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).
  3. Written Warning
  4. Before having a performance discussion with the Professional Staff Member 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.
      1. During the performance discussion in which a Written Warning is issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the Professional Staff Member the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      2. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should sign the PIP. If the Professional Staff Member refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the Professional Staff Member's signature line.
        2. If the Professional Staff Member disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the Professional Staff Member that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor should make a copy of the PIP for the Professional Staff Member, a copy for the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member should agree to meet regularly to review progress.
      3. After the Written Warning is issued, and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should meet regularly to assess the Professional Staff Member's progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member'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).
  5. Written Warning with Probation
  6. Before having a performance discussion with the Professional Staff Member 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.
      1. During the performance discussion in which a Written Warning with Probation is issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the Professional Staff Member the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      2. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should sign the PIP. If the Professional Staff Member refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the Professional Staff Member's signature line.
        2. If the Professional Staff Member disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the Professional Staff Member that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor should make a copy of the PIP for the Professional Staff Member, a copy for the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member should agree to meet regularly to review progress.
      3. After the Written Warning with Probation is issued, and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should meet regularly to assess the Professional Staff Member's progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member'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).
  7. Suspension
  8. Before suspending the Professional Staff Member:

    1. 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 documenting the specific performance, attendance, or behavior issue and improvements required in a PIP, indicating that this is a Suspension Without Pay for the specific timeframe (e.g. one to five workdays). Observations should be supported with documentation, including the PIP used for Counseling and/or Written Warning.
      1. During the performance discussion in which the Suspension Without Pay is issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the Professional Staff Member the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
        6. Suspension Without Pay for the specific timeframe (e.g. one to five workdays).
      2. At the conclusion of the meeting:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should sign the PIP. If the Professional Staff Member refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the Professional Staff Member's signature line.
        2. If the Professional Staff Member disagrees with the action taken, the supervisor should advise the Professional Staff Member that s/he may contact the appropriate HR Partner.
        3. The supervisor should make a copy of the PIP for the Professional Staff Member, a copy for the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member should agree to meet regularly to review progress.
      3. After the Suspension is issued or during the Suspension and while the PIP is in effect:
        1. The supervisor and Professional Staff Member should meet regularly to assess the Professional Staff Member's progress towards identified goals.
        2. The supervisor must document follow-up meetings and progress on the PIP.
        3. If Professional Staff Member's performance has met the goals and expectations described in the PIP, the supervisor will document that he or she has successfully completed the PIP.
        4. If the Professional Staff Member'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., short continuance or extension of the Written Warning with Probation by extending the probationary period or Termination).
      4. During the performance discussion, in which a Suspension Without Pay has been issued, the supervisor should:
        1. Provide the Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member questions and address his/her concerns.
        5. Offer the Professional Staff Member the opportunity to write comments on the PIP.
      5. Following the meeting with a Professional Staff Member regarding any Suspension Without Pay, the supervisor should complete a Personnel Action Form placing the Professional Staff Member on Suspension and submit it to Human Resources.
      6. At the conclusion of the Suspension Without Pay, the supervisor should complete a Personnel Action Form returning the Professional Staff Member to active, paid status and submit to Human Resources.
  9. Termination of Employment
  10. Before terminating a Professional Staff Member:

    1. If Termination of Employment appears to be warranted, as described in the Performance Improvement Plan, 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.

    The Termination Meeting:

    1. The supervisor will meet with the Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Member will sign the PIP. If the Professional Staff Member refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor must note this refusal above the Professional Staff Member's signature line. The supervisor will make a copy of the PIP for the Professional Staff Member, a copy for the Professional Staff Member'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 Professional Staff Member the items outlined in the Termination Checklist to be provided by Human Resources.

    Following the termination meeting, the supervisor will complete the Termination Checklist and a Personnel Action Form and submit both to Human Resources.

AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT NOT AFFECTED

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this policy, nothing herein is intended to alter the at-will status of any Professional Staff Member. Drexel University Online at all times retains the right to terminate any Professional Staff Member at any time for any lawful reason, or for no reason at all.