Student Employment Services (SES) understands that problems in the workplace do occur, and has provided the following advice and guidelines to help supervisors handle these situations themselves.
Ideally, employers will use the interview and selection process to help determine whether a student and a particular employment opportunity are a good fit. Furthermore, the training and orientation process provides the opportunity to ensure that student employees understand the requirements and expectations of their position, and the evaluation process allows the supervisor to document the student's performance. (Contact SES for additional evaluation forms.) However, there may be occasions when the performance of the student in his/her job is below expectations. In those situations, a progressive disciplinary process should be used to make sure that students have the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes, to correct their own errors, and to understand why they are being disciplined/terminated.
The SES Staff is available to assist both students and supervisors in handling work-related conflicts. Oftentimes, the SES Staff can provide advice on the best approach to a situation or may offer to help start discussions related to the concerns.
If a student or supervisor feels that disciplinary procedures have occurred unjustly, he/she may contact SES at any time in the process. The SES Staff will work with both parties to review the situation and reconcile differences that may have occurred so that all parties understand the basis for any decision that has been made.
Student employees starting a new position on campus are subject to a 30-day probationary/training period. During this period, the supervisor should discuss and evaluate work performance, including attendance, ability, attitude, and other factors related to job performance. During the probationary period, the supervisor should make every effort to inform the student of any areas that need to be improved in order to continue in the position. The employer may choose to terminate a student's employment at any time during the probationary period without utilizing the progressive disciplinary procedures. If this occurs, a Personnel Action Form should be completed.
Progressive Disciplinary Process
When performance problems first appear, it is important to address them right away. Often, informal conversations with a student are the best way to quickly let the student know that there is something that needs to be changed. Don't wait for the problem to escalate before discussing it. Take the time to review the job responsibilities and expectations and give the student an opportunity to ask questions. Tackling the issue early will often prevent the need to use the progressive disciplinary procedures outlined below.
If early, informal attempts at addressing a performance concern are not successful, the following steps should be taken to correct the problem behavior. Grounds for progressive disciplinary action include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive tardiness
- Excessive unexcused absenteeism
- Disobedience or insubordination
- Sloppy or unclean appearance
- Carelessness or lack of attention that results in injury to property, person, or public relations
- Reluctance or failure to meet job requirements as listed in the job description
- Unsatisfactory completion of job assignments
- Failure to work with the public or coworkers in a courteous, professional manner
- Excessive time spent conducting personal business on the phone, on the Web, with friends, or in other manners during work hours
The supervisor and student should meet privately to discuss the performance concern. In this meeting, the supervisor should clearly explain the concern and provide specific suggestions for improved job performance. The student should have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification so that he/she will be able to successfully improve his/her performance. The ramifications of continued performance problems should be discussed. Document the date and nature of the discussion for your own records.
If, the problem is not corrected within a reasonable period of time following the oral warning, then a written warning should be provided. The written warning should include the following:
- reference to the date and nature of the previous oral warning
- details of the performance concern
- details of how the performance must improve
- a reasonable timeframe by which the performance must improve
The written warning should also clearly state the outcome (e.g. termination) that will occur if the performance does not approve within the timeline provided.
The supervisor and student should meet privately to review the written warning, and both the supervisor and the student should take the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification so that the purpose and potential outcome of the letter are understood. The supervisor should keep a copy of the letter for future reference. Do not send a copy of the written warning to SES at this time.
There are times when a student and supervisor mutually agree that the position is not the best opportunity for the student. A student may choose to resign for personal reasons, to take advantage of other employment opportunities, as a result of progressive disciplinary process, or for other reasons. Students who decide to voluntarily terminate their employment are encouraged to meet with the supervisor to determine an appropriate termination date and to provide at least two weeks notice so that the department has an opportunity to hire a replacement. In situations where a student and supervisor agree to a student's resignation, a Personnel Action Form should be completed.
If the student is provided with a written warning, and the performance does not improve within the timeframe outlined, then the supervisor may choose to terminate the student. Every effort should be made to meet privately with the student to inform him/her of the decision. If the supervisor is unable to meet with the student personally (for example, the student never returns to work after receiving the written warning), a letter may be sent to the student informing him/her of the termination.
At this point, a Personnel Action Form should be completed.
Certain situations pose a threat to the nature of the University environment and require immediate termination. In these situations, the standard progressive disciplinary procedures should be bypassed, and the student should be informed as to why they are being terminated effective immediately. A Personnel Action Form should be completed, and a memo should be attached explaining the situation that occurred. Students who receive immediate termination are no longer eligible to work through the student employment programs at the University.
Grounds for Immediate Termination include, but are not limited to:
- Falsifying timesheets or other University documents
- Gross negligence resulting in serious injury to property, person, or public relations
- Use of University equipment for personal gain
- Improper disclosure or use of confidential information
- Physical violence, obscene language, or other threats when dealing with the public or other staff members
- Being at work under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol
- Immoral conduct or indecency, including sexual harassment
- Unauthorized possession of firearms or explosives
- Grievance Procedures
The SES Manager is available to assist both students and supervisors in handling work-related conflicts. Oftentimes, the SES Manager can provide advice on the best approach to a situation or may offer to help start discussions related to the concerns.
If a student or supervisor feels that disciplinary procedures have occurred unjustly, he/she may contact the SES Manager at any time in the process. The SES Manager will work with both parties to review the situation and reconcile differences that may have occurred so that all parties understand the basis for any decision that has been made. If necessary, the SES Manager will seek the assistance of appropriate campus personnel and may refer the parties involved to other experts based on the nature of the situation.