Discipline may be imposed to address poor performance or behavioral/conduct-related problems. Keep in mind that a supervisor typically is not an appointing authority or appointing authority designee; therefore; when the supervisor believes that disciplinary action may be appropriate, the supervisor should make the appointing authority aware as soon after the infraction occurs as possible. There are very stringent timeframes that must be observed when imposing discipline.
Within the State Personnel Management System (SPMS), there are six forms of disciplinary action:
Within the SPMS, we require adherence to the tenets of progressive discipline. Progressive discipline is a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct-related problems, which increase in severity for like infractions. Keep in mind, however, that the level of discipline should be proportional to the severity of the infraction; therefore, a more serious infraction may require that discipline begin at a higher level, even termination. In fact, some infractions are so egregious that they are causes for automatic termination.; These include, but are not limited to:
Before imposing discipline, an appointing authority must do several things:
An employee who is the subject of an investigation, and who also is a member of a bargaining unit, may request union representation in any investigatory interview or meeting, and at any disciplinary hearing discussion, conference or meeting (including settlement discussions) with the employee who is the subject of the disciplinary proceeding.
The employee must make the request for a union representative, and the union representative should be given reasonable notice to attend (see the applicable MOU for time frames). This right to representation extends only to the exclusive representative of that employee and only upon request by the employee, except that once an appeal of a disciplinary action is filed the employee filing the appeal may be represented by anyone, including a non-exclusive representative.
A supervisor should know whether an employee is a member of a bargaining unit and if so, which one. If a supervisor is not sure of his or her employees’ bargaining unit status, the supervisor may obtain that information from personnel.
All disciplinary actions EXCEPT suspensions must be imposed within 30 calendar days after knowledge is gained about the performance problem or misconduct for which the disciplinary action is imposed.
In the case of suspensions, the suspension must be imposed within 5 workdays following the close of the employee’s next shift after knowledge is gained. An employee’s leave days, weekends, and holidays are not counted.
An employee who is FLSA-exempt (meaning that he or she is not eligible to earn cash overtime) must be suspended in increments of a workweek (i.e., 5 day suspension, 10 day suspension, 15 day suspension), while an employee who is cash overtime eligible may be suspended in increments of one day.
If a 5-day suspension seems excessive and the employee is FLSA-exempt, consider whether imposing a forfeiture of annual leave is a reasonable alternative.
This information is only a summary. Please refer to source documents or contact your personnel office with specific questions.
Often, it simply feels “wrong” to a supervisor faced with poor performance to consider disciplining the poor performer; however, once the supervisor has had informal discussions with the employee, offered whatever remedial assistance and/or training may be appropriate, orally counseled the employee, and ultimately, put pen to paper to counsel the employee in writing, typically, there is no other option if there is no improvement.
When discipline is imposed to address poor performance, the goal is to instruct the employee and provide the impetus for change. It is very important to remember that disciplinary action goes hand-in-hand with the performance evaluation process. This means that a persistently poor performer should not only be receiving coaching, counseling, and then, ultimately discipline for the poor performance, but also should see that poor performance reflected on the employee’s performance evaluation. Conversely, a persistently poor performer should not receive less than satisfactory performance ratings without having also been disciplined for the poor performance.
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