Discipline

In any organization it is essential that certain standards of personal conduct and work performance be maintained. Most people prefer to work in an orderly environment and will readily conform to reasonable rules of conduct and standards of performance as long as they understand what is expected of them. Supervisors are responsible for informing their subordinates of management’s expectations. Where problems with employee behavior or performance arise, a supervisor should seek to correct the problem with the least amount of disruption to the work environment. Discipline is used as corrective, rather than a punitive, approach to correcting unsatisfactory job performance or behavior. Supervisors must provide prompt and clear performance expectations and allow reasonable time, if possible, for employees to correct problems. In some instances, summary discharge may be warranted. This information addresses both progressive discipline and summary discharge.

When disciplinary action against an MU Extension employee is being considered, there are a number of general principles that should be followed, irrespective of the classification of the employee involved. For general guidance on disciplinary matters, see HR 601 Discipline. Disciplinary action should also be handled in a manner consistent with the performance management policies of the University of Missouri and MU Extension.

Other resources include:

For all positions

Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) are recommended when low ratings are given on a performance evaluation or improved performance is expected of an employee. A PIP should clearly identify areas of job performance in which improvement is needed, specific steps that must be taken and resources available to the employee to assist in improving performance. For more guidance on the use of PIPs, contact MU Extension HR at 573-882-2151 and see the PIP template letter (DOCX).

Academic positions

CRR 310.015 Procedures for review of faculty performance

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is recommended when low ratings are given on a performance evaluation or improved performance is expected.

Extension academic employees may be placed on a shortened contract if performance is unsatisfactory in one or more performance criteria outlined in the employee’s performance evaluation. During the term of a shortened contract, an academic employee may be placed on a PIP. A PIP template letter (DOCX) is available.

Extension academic employees are generally employed on a fixed term, contractual basis. The decision to not renew the contract of an extension academic employee may be made for disciplinary or other reasons. If the contract of an extension academic employee is not renewed for disciplinary reasons, the termination of the employee will be handled in the same manner as other cases of non-renewal. See the Separation from Employment page for more.

Exempt staff positions

Progressive discipline is not required for employees in exempt extension staff positions. However, in the event of unsatisfactory performance or in situations in which improved performance is expected, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) may be utilized for exempt staff employees. A PIP template letter (DOCX) is available.

Regular, non-exempt staff positions

See HR 601 Discipline for guidance in determining the appropriate level and form of disciplinary action should be utilized in the event of poor performance or other bases for disciplinary action.

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) may be utilized in conjunction with the various stages of progressive discipline. A PIP template letter (DOCX) is available.

Under university policy (HR 601), progressive discipline should be used for most forms of disciplinary action taken with respect to regular, non-exempt staff employees of MU Extension. Under that policy, the goals of progressive discipline are to: inform the employee of inadequacies in performance or instances of improper behavior; clarify what constitutes satisfactory performance or behavior; instruct the employee on what action must be taken to correct the performance or behavior problem; and inform the employee of what action will be taken in the future if the expectations are not met.

Barring extenuating circumstances, the normal steps in progressive discipline require that disciplinary action for related types of inadequate performance progress from (1) an oral warning, (2) a written warning, (3) suspension without pay for a term commiserate with the nature of the offense, and (4) discharge.

The decision to initiate disciplinary action should be reviewed with extension HR prior to taking action. The nature of the conduct of an employee will be relevant in the determination of what disciplinary action is required and whether the normal stages of progressive discipline should be followed.

Employee letters

Probationary employees, temporary, part-time and other non-regular positions

Employees in these categories are at-will employees. Progressive discipline is not applicable.