Employee Relations

Radford University and the Commonwealth of Virginia have outlined expectations for state employees covered under the Virginia Personnel Act through Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) Policy 1.60: Standards of Conduct.  The University also uses this policy as a guide for evaluating the workplace conduct of employees who are not covered by the Virginia Personnel Act such as wage employees, probationary employees and employees expressly excluded from the Act’s coverage.  The University has also outlined the expectations of faculty and staff employees and supervisors in our policies and handbooks.

The Employee Relations team is a resource for employees and supervisors alike who would like confidential assistance in dealing with work-related issues and is committed to help find an answer and work towards a resolution. The Employee Relations team works to create and maintain a fair and equitable work environment.

Employee Relations contact for employees is Jenene Lewis at 540-831-7286.  Supervisors/managers contact is Theresa Slaughter at 540-831-5582.

Policy Clarification

The Employee Relations staff is available to help employees as well as supervisors understand the Commonwealth of Virginia Policies and those of Radford University.  Departments may have their own procedures which may include guidelines or standards for attendance, dress, requests for time off, and other items specific to their department.  Employees should discuss these departmental procedures with their supervisor if any guidelines or procedures are unclear.

Management Consultation

Employee Relations is available to consult with employees and with supervisors when there are questions or concerns about policy interpretation, expectations, performance, or behavior in the workplace.  Employee Relations can coach employees and supervisors and make referrals to other campus and state resources.  Radford University uses a progressive process to address performance and behavioral problems and the Employee Relations staff provides direction to that process.

Conflict, Mediation and Facilitation

Conflict is often viewed as something to avoid.  Feelings of inadequacy, anger, or even fear can be present when conflict arises.  Avoiding the situation may not be the best answer but may seem like the most desirable option.  Conflict resolution is an essential part of interacting in the workforce.  To deal with conflict effectively, a suitable course of action must be taken to yield the change that leads to a positive work experience.  Mediation can help guide the process.

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process that is designed to encourage open conversation and understanding between two or more parties and aid in solving problems.  Each participant is encouraged to have open and honest discussion, determine and clarify issues and cooperatively create steps towards achieving positive outcomes.  The success rate of mediation is high when each participant is able to listen carefully to the other person and acknowledge his or her point of view.  Even if the parties do not reach agreement, they frequently find mediation helpful as a way of gaining more understanding of the situation.

The Office of Employment Dispute Resolution's mediation program allows employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia to express their thoughts and feelings associated with workplace disputes in a safe, nonjudgmental environment that enables them to create their own resolutions. Mediation services are available at no charge and will not affect an employee's grievance rights where the parties have agreed in writing to extend the time requirements of the grievance procedure.

Contact Theresa Slaughter at 540-831-5582 or Jenene Lewis at 540-831-7286, for additional information or to schedule a mediation.

Probationary Employees

Employees who are hired/re-hired into a classified position must serve a 12-month probationary period effective from the date of employment/re-employment. This introductory period of employment allows the employee and Radford University to determine if the employee and the job are a good match.  At any time during the 12-month probationary period, the probationary employee may be terminated.  Managers are encouraged to consult with Employee Relations if a probationary employee is not meeting expectations.  The normal probationary period is 12 months; however, it can be extended for up to 18 months for reasons outlined in the Commonwealth of Virginia Policy 1:45: Probationary Period [PDF].  Employees who have completed a probationary period during their current employment, and who begin a new classified position with no break in service, are not required to serve a new probationary period unless they fall within the guidelines of Policy 1:45.  Probationary employees do not have access to the State Grievance Procedure.

Probationary Reviews

Formal, written probationary reviews are required at six months and 12 months of employment.  Managers are encouraged to consult with Employee Relations if a probationary employee is not meeting expectations.

At six months, a formal, written probationary review is required to be completed by using the Probationary Progress Review form Probationary Progress Review [PDF] | [DOC]   Prior to the end of the 12 month probationary period, another formal, written evaluation is required to be completed using the same form.  Both the six month and 12 month reviews should be sent to Human Resources for inclusion in the employee’s personnel file.

Progressive Disciplinary Process (classified)

The disciplinary process typically involves the use of increasingly significant measures to provide feedback to employees so they may correct conduct or performance problems.  Corrective actions, whether informal or formal, must depend upon the nature, consequence(s), or potential consequence(s) of the employee’s conduct or performance and surrounding circumstances and mitigating factors, if any.  It is designed to encourage employees to become fully contributing members and to enable supervisors/managers to fairly and with reliable documentation, terminate employees who are unable or unwilling to improve their conduct and/or job performance.

Supervisors and managers should apply corrective actions consistently.  Prior to taking any corrective action, you need to identify what policy or process is appropriate based on the employee category.  Supervisors and managers must consult with Employee Relations for guidance and assistance before taking any formal corrective actions.

Informal Discussion

The first step in the progressive disciplinary process is a private discussion between the supervisor and the employee in which:

  • The supervisor identifies the performance/conduct problem, its impact on the operation of the business unit and the performance/conduct expectation.
  • The employee is offered an opportunity to provide information as to any factors that may have contributed to the problem.
  • Any resources that might be helpful are identified, including coaching, skills training, mediation of workplace conflict, voluntary referral to the Employee Assistance Program, etc.
  • An action plan to access any identified resource is developed.

A notation that a discussion has occurred should be kept in the supervisor’s file.

Counseling Memo

If, after an informal discussion of a performance/conduct problem, the problem continues, the supervisor and employee may meet again privately to discuss the problem.

  • The supervisor identifies the performance/conduct problem, its impact on the operation of the business unit, and the performance/conduct expectation.
  • The employee is offered an opportunity to provide information as to any factors that may have contributed to the problem.
  • Potential resources are identified and an action plan for accessing those resources is established.

This time, however, following the discussion, a counseling memo is issued to the employee.  Note:  Depending on the nature of the conduct/performance, counseling is not a required precursor to the issuance of a Written Notice.

The counseling memo should be a summary of the discussion between the supervisor and the employee. Counseling may be documented by a letter or memorandum or Notice of Improvement Needed/Substandard Performance form, but not on a Written Notice form.  It should include sections in which:

  • The problem is identified (including the impact of the problem on the business unit).
  • Any factors that contribute to the problem are defined.
  • The action plan to address those factors is explained.
  • The expected performance/conduct is defined and the plan for follow up communication is outlined.

Counseling memos are retained in the supervisor’s files. They do not become a part of the employee’s personnel file unless the performance/conduct problem continues and the counseling memo becomes an attachment to a subsequent performance/disciplinary action.

Notice of Improvement Needed/Unsatisfactory Performance

A Notice of Improvement Needed/ Unsatisfactory Performance may be issued in lieu of a counseling memo. The form contains:

  • A section in which the problem is identified (including the impact of the problem on the business unit).
  • A section for a performance improvement plan.

The performance improvement plan should include:

  • A review of performance expectations.
  • An action plan to address factors impacting the employee’s performance.
  • The plan for follow up monitoring of performance.

The performance improvement period will vary depending upon the performance problem but should allow adequate time for the employee to demonstrate improvement.

The form is retained in the supervisor’s file. It does not become a part of the employee’s personnel file unless it is used to support an overall rating of “Below Contributor” on the annual performance evaluation or unless it is used to support a Written Notice.

Written Notice

Supervisors should contact Employee Relations before issuing a Written Notice. Written Notices may be issued when counseling has failed to correct misconduct or performance problems, or if the performance/conduct problem is so significant or serious that an immediate formal action is warranted.  A Written Notice may be accompanied by additional actions including:

  • a suspension;
  • a demotion or transfer with reduced responsibilities with a disciplinary salary action;
  • a transfer to an equivalent position in a different work area;
  • or termination, as described in the Standards of Conduct, Policy 1.60

Offenses are organized into three groups according to the severity of the misconduct or behavior.  Examples of offenses, by group, are presented in Attachment A [PDF].  These examples are not all-inclusive but are intended as examples of conduct for which specific disciplinary actions may be warranted.

  • Group I Offense – offenses in this category include acts of minor misconduct that require formal disciplinary action.  This level is appropriate for repeated acts of minor misconduct or for first offenses that have a relatively minor impact on business operations but still require formal intervention.
  • Group II Offense - Offenses in this category include acts of misconduct of a more serious and/or repeat nature that requires formal disciplinary action. This level is appropriate for offenses that significantly impact business operations and/or constitute neglect of duty, insubordination, the abuse of state resources, or violations of policies, procedures, or laws.
  • Group III Offense - Offenses in this category include acts of misconduct of such a severe nature that a first occurrence normally should warrant termination. This level is appropriate for offenses that, for example, endanger others in the workplace, constitute illegal or unethical conduct; neglect of duty; disruption of the workplace; or other serious violations of policies, procedures, or laws.

Written Notices are sent to Employee Relations and is retained in the employee’s personnel file with all supporting documentation including previously issued counseling memos and Notice of Improvement Needed/Substandard Performance forms.  Written Notices have a prescribed active life depending on the level of the group offense.  Written Notices may be used to support an overall rating of “Below Contributor”on the annual performance evaluation.

Written notices may not be issued to probationary employees.  For disciplinary and performance issues related to probationary employees, managers should contact Employee Relations.

The above information is a portion of the process outlined in the DHRM Standards of Conduct Policy 1.60 [PDF].  Supervisors and Managers are encouraged to review the policy for a thorough understanding of the process.

Probationary Employees

For classified employees who are newly employed, an introductory or probationary period of employment is provided.  During the probationary period, probationary employees may be terminated at any time regardless of performance.

Probationary employees may be terminated at the university’s discretion at any time during the probationary period for any legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.  Probationary employees do not have access to the State Grievance Procedure. An interim or formal probationary evaluation is not necessary prior to termination, and an employee can be terminated for performance or other reasons at any time, including prior to the end of any scheduled review period. Supervisors must contact Employee Relations for assistance in termination actions. Termination will be documented by letter or memorandum. Copies will be provided to the employee and placed in the employee’s personnel record.

Wage Employees

The disciplinary process typically involves the use of increasingly significant measures to provide feedback to employees so they may correct conduct or performance problems.  It is designed to encourage employees to become fully contributing members and to enable supervisors/managers to fairly, and with reliable documentation, terminate employees who are unable or unwilling to improve their conduct and or job performance.

Counseling is typically the first level of corrective action but is not a required precursor to the issuance of disciplinary action up to and including termination.  Counseling may be informal (verbal) or formal (written) communication which conveys that an employee’s conduct or performance was improper and must be corrected.

Counseling may be documented by a letter or memorandum.  Documentation regarding counseling should be retained in the supervisor’s file.  Wage employees are not covered under the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Standards of Conduct Policy 1.60 [PDF], and therefore, Written Notice forms may not be issued to these employees.

Supervisors and Managers should consult with Employee Relations for guidance on handling corrective actions.

Administrative and Faculty

Please refer to the AP Handbook [PDF]

Teaching and Research Faculty

Please refer to the T&R Handbook

 

Grievance Process

Before filing a formal grievance, employees and management are encouraged to resolve concerns informally through discussion or through the use of mediation and conflict resolution.  If those steps are not successful, there are formal processes available.  A grievance is a formal complaint about a workplace issue that has a direct adverse impact on employees.  The goal of a grievance is to raise the issue or concern to the attention of the appropriate level of management so the issue can be addressed. The state grievance process is available to all classified employees that have successfully completed their probationary period.  The grievance process involves review of the complaint by up to three respondents within the employee’s management chain.

A grievance can have up to four phases: (1) the management resolution steps; (2) qualification for hearing; (3) hearing; and (4) review of the hearing decision. Not all grievances are qualified for hearing. For example, under the grievance statues, grievances that relate solely to layoffs, transfers, assignments, or the content of personnel policies, cannot proceed on to a hearing. On the other hand, some issues are automatically qualified for hearing, such as formal discipline or dismissal for unsatisfactory performance. Attorneys serving as Administrative Hearing Officers conduct hearings in qualifying grievances.  .

This formal process is outlined in the Grievance Procedure Manual [PDF].  Failure to follow these strict procedures will forfeit your right to this process. The Office of Equal Employment and Dispute Resolution provides additional information regarding the Grievance Procedure.  If you have questions or need assistance, contact Theresa Slaughter, Employee Relations Manager, at 540-831-5582 or tpslaught@radford.edu

A/P Faculty

The Administrative and Professional Faculty grievance procedure is outlined in the AP Handbook [PDF]

Teaching and Research Faculty

The Teaching and Research Faculty grievance procedure is outlined in the T&R Handbook

Expectation of Employees and Managers

Employee Responsibilities

All employees are expected to:

  • Treat others with dignity and respect at all times.
  • Conduct themselves in an ethical manner at all times.
  • Support the mission and values of the university.
  • Comply with departmental, university, and Commonwealth of Virginia expectations, policies, and procedures.
  • If management, adhere to management responsibilities.

In addition, Commonwealth of Virginia Policy 1.60: Standards of Conduct [PDF] identifies the following minimum expectations of acceptable workplace behavior and performance.

Employees are expected to:

  • Report to work as scheduled and seek approval from their supervisors in advance for any changes to the established work schedule, including the use of leave and late or early arrivals and departures.
  • Perform assigned duties and responsibilities with the highest degree of public trust.
  • Devote full effort to job responsibilities during work hours.
  • Maintain the qualifications, certification, licensure, and/or training requirements identified for their positions.
  • Demonstrate respect for Radford University and toward coworkers, supervisors, managers, subordinates, students, and customers.
  • Use state equipment, time, and resources wisely and as authorized.
  • Support efforts that ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Utilize leave and related employee benefits in the manner for which they were intended.
  • Resolve work-related issues and disputes in a professional manner and through established processes.
  • Meet or exceed established job performance expectations.
  • Make work-related decisions and/or take actions that are in the best interest of Radford University.
  • Comply with the letter and spirit of all state and agency policies and procedures, the Conflict of Interest Act, and commonwealth laws and regulations.
  • Report circumstances or concerns that may affect satisfactory work performance to management, including any inappropriate (fraudulent, illegal, unethical) activities of other employees.
  • Obtain approval from supervisor prior to accepting outside employment.
  • Obtain approval from supervisor prior to working overtime, if non-exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Work cooperatively to achieve department and Radford University’s goals and objectives.
  • Conduct themselves at all times in a manner that supports the mission of Radford University and the performance of their duties.

Management Responsibilities

In addition to the behavioral expectations identified above, management is responsible for and retains the authority to manage and direct the size of the workforce, the work environment, work assignments, work hours, promotions, demotions, transfers, dismissals, and all other personnel actions.

Management is responsible to ensure all paperwork and/or electronic actions (i.e.: EPAFs, timecards, etc.) are completed in a timely manner.

Managers are expected to: