Standards of Conduct & Performance/Corrective Action Policy

Policy Statement

Staff are expected to perform job duties and responsibilities in a manner that reflects the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct and performance. Duke seeks to resolve conduct and performance problems in the most informal and positive manner possible, such as through counseling, coaching, additional training or supervision. Duke has developed specific corrective-action protocols that should be followed when staff do not meet expectations for conduct and/or performance. Disciplinary procedures will be administered consistently and in a manner that is intended to be corrective.

To ensure the equitable processing of corrective actions, the supervisor will be responsible for the proper handling of such matters, including the assurance that staff rights are protected, and that appropriate action is taken when circumstances warrant. Supervisors should therefore consult with the entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative prior to the implementation of corrective action.

Policy Details

Philosophy

Successful job performance is dependent upon many factors - not the least of which is a full and clear understanding of and commitment to job performance expectations and applicable Duke and department policies and procedures. Supervisors and staff are expected to understand and follow job and workplace performance standards and to take advantage of the many resources available to support successful performance. These resources include:

  • Organizational, department, and job-specific orientations for new staff
  • Reviews and discussions of the Duke Staff Handbook
  • Reviews and discussions of department and work-unit expectations
  • Regular dialogue between supervisors and staff regarding performance accomplishments and annual summary discussions of overall performance and future expectations and goals

Supervisors may use coaching, feedback, performance improvement plans and corrective actions to assist and guide them in resolving unsatisfactory job performance, misconduct or behavior that violates Duke policies, procedures, or practices.

Counseling to Support Effective Performance and Behavior

Supervisory counseling with staff is an expected preliminary step prior to corrective action and should be conducted when a staff member has not adhered to the expected Standards of Conduct or when a supervisor deems it necessary in order to bring a staff member's performance to an expected level.

Each supervisor has the responsibility of counseling his or her staff to try to modify behavior and to administer corrective action when appropriate. All corrective actions must be documented.

The following principles apply to supervisory counseling actions at Duke:

  • The standards of conduct and performance should be communicated to each staff member in a variety of ways (i.e. through reviews of the Duke Staff Handbook and with regular discussions between the supervisor and the staff member).
  • Standards of conduct and performance are reasonably related to the orderly, efficient, or safe operation of work at Duke or its entities, schools, or departments.
  • A timely, fair, and objective review will always be completed before the decision to take corrective action is made.
  • Consultation with the entity or department Human Resources representative and a representative of Staff and Labor Relations is required before implementing corrective action that involves a staff member's conditions of employment or involuntary termination.
  • Consultation with the entity or department Human Resources representative or a representative of Staff and Labor Relations is strongly encouraged for all other corrective actions.
  • Initial and early performance discussions should occur between the staff member, supervisor, and Staff and Labor Relations. The supervisor should explain why the performance problem and/or counseling is occurring and should define the impact the problem is having on the staff member's department and/or coworkers.
  • Supervisors should outline the steps necessary to correct performance and/or conduct deficiencies and should also document these steps using the Performance Improvement Plan document.
  • Supervisors should schedule timely and regular follow up meetings for constructive feedback.
  • Supervisors should ensure that when staff indicate that a health problem limits their performance, the staff member is advised of the availability of Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW), the Disability Management System, and/or Personal Assistance Service (PAS).
  • Supervisors must ensure that all staff are encouraged to use employee assistance as an aid to improving or correcting performance and/or behavior.

If a staff member's work performance or behavior continues to need improvement or if a Duke policy has been violated, corrective steps should be taken to modify and improve behavior based on the nature and severity of the issue, the frequency with which the problem has occurred, and any extenuating circumstances.

Corrective Action

Guidelines

In determining the proper course of corrective action, the supervisor may repeat, modify, or omit a level of disciplinary action based upon the facts of the specific case. For example, in the case of serious misconduct, immediate termination of employment may be warranted. "Serious misconduct" is defined as any action committed by a staff member (while engaged in Duke business or on Duke premises) that includes - but is not limited to - the violation of laws, and/or Duke policies, procedures, and practices; theft; assault; fighting; unethical conduct; safety violations; harassment; possession/concealment of weapons; possession, use, sale, or purchase of illegal drugs or illegal intoxicants; falsification or improper alteration of records (including time cards/records); and/or disclosure or misuse of confidential information.

Documentation

All corrective actions, counseling discussions, and related facts must be documented - with one copy of all documents provided to the staff member and one filed in the staff member's department personnel file. The entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative will assist supervisors in recording appropriate documentation for counseling discussions, written warnings, and terminations.

Corrective-Action Protocols

Duke has designed its corrective-action protocols to identify and correct problems or behaviors that affect the work performance of staff. The proper steps for corrective action must be handled consistently within and across each entity/department/unit and for each problem.

Duke's "corrective action" processes include the following actions:

  • Written Warning - This protocol documents discussions between a supervisor and staff member who fails to meet performance or behavioral expectations. Under most circumstances, written warnings occur before more progressive corrective actions are undertaken by supervisors.
  • Final Written Warning or Suspension- This plan of corrective action documents discussions between a supervisor and staff member who continues to fail to meet performance or behavioral expectations after receiving a written warning. This action includes disciplinary or investigative suspension that provides for temporarily removing a staff member from the workplace for serious misconduct pending further investigation. Before a staff member is suspended, the supervisor must consult with the entity/department HR representative or a Staff and Labor representative to discuss the circumstances.
  • Termination- Terminations occur after written warnings are issued to staff continuing to fail to meet performance or behavioral expectations. Terminations must be reviewed by the entity's/department's Human Resources representative and by Staff and Labor Relations prior to a final dismissal.

Duke intends its corrective-action policies and procedures to be progressive. However, depending on the situation, supervisors are permitted to repeat, omit, or employ any corrective action plan out of the progressive sequence.

Duke also reserves the right to effect immediate termination if such action is deemed necessary. All corrective actions are determined on a case-by-case basis by individual entities, departments, and units and by Duke's Staff and Labor Relations staff.

Staff who are absent for three consecutive, scheduled workdays without contacting an immediate supervisor will be considered as having resigned their position(s) at Duke and will be immediately terminated.

Corrective Action Tracks: Attendance and Behavioral/Performance

Attendance, behavioral and performance issues are addressed in separate tracks. For example, a staff member who has been issued a written warning for a performance/behavioral issue would receive another, separate warning for an attendance problem that warrants corrective action. If attendance is corrected but the performance/behavior continues at below expectations, a final written warning for performance may be warranted. See the chart below to confirm the appropriate corrective action track.

Corrective Action Tracks Chart
Expected Conduct and PerformanceCorrective Action Track: AttendanceCorrective Action Track: Behavioral/Performance
Performance and Work Requests and Assignments  
Perform assigned tasks safely, competently and according to performance and behavioral expectations of the department/work unit. X
Successfully perform assigned job duties consistent with standards – both those specifically part of the job description and other duties related to the job (as assigned by a supervisor). X
Cooperate and collaborate with supervisors and co-workers in performing assignments and service requests. X
Compliance with Policies and Procedures  
Comply with all Duke, unit and department policies and procedures (i.e., administrative, Human Resources, clinical, financial, animal, and safety policies and procedures). X
Disclose possible conflicts of interest and/or conflicts of workplace commitment. X
Ensure and protect the confidentiality of sensitive information (oral, written or electronic). Confidential information should not be repeated, discussed or removed from the work area – except for legitimate and authorized work reasons. X
Comply with all federal and state standards and laws regulating the provision of professional services (licensure and scope of practice). X
Behave with honesty and integrity in all employment actions including the maintenance and completion of records and the accurate recording of time worked. X
Availability for work  
Attend work as scheduled – that is, arrive on time fully prepared to begin work and remain at work through the entire work period and request authorization according to established department procedures if there is a need to leave the workplace.X 
Attend work as scheduled  
Notify the supervisor well in advance of any unscheduled absence in accordance with department notification procedures. X
Being absent without notice for three consecutive workdays constitutes voluntary resignation. X
Safety and Use of Duke Property  
Use and safeguard the property of others and of Duke through proper and authorized use. X
Use Duke's property only for legitimate work purposes (telephones, e-mail, facsimile machines, computers, printers, copiers, cell phones, tools, vehicles, furniture and other work-related equipment). X
Teamwork and Workplace Behavior – The maintenance of appropriate workplace behavior that fosters collaboration, customer service and teamwork  
Use respectful, courteous and helpful language when communicating with supervisors, co-workers and customers. Loud, boisterous and intimidating language will be a violation of accepted workplace standards and is not appropriate. X
Adhere to and comply with Duke and department-specific safety policies and training requirements. Identify safety issues, and report all hazards, incidents and safety concerns on a timely basis. X
Be productive and use all available time to accomplish expected work tasks – personal business should be accomplished outside of work time and/or during scheduled time-off. X
Dress for work according to the department’s workplace attire guidelines – including the appropriate display of the Duke identification badge. X
Being disruptive, discourteous and/or insubordinate conduct will not be tolerated. X
Acting inappropriately (such as using profane, suggestive or abusive language) is a violation of accepted workplace standards and will not be tolerated. X
Acting inappropriately such as, sleeping on the job (non-patient care position), working or suspected of working under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a violation of accepted workplace standards. X
Acting inappropriately such as, fraud, abuse, threats, harassment, illegal activities, sleeping on the job (patient care position), or possessing a weapon is a gross violation of accepted workplace standards and will be grounds for immediate termination. X
Conduct that causes or threatens harm to others or that constitutes persistent, unwanted behaviors will not be tolerated and will be grounds for immediate termination. X

Expectations of Conduct and Performance

Duke intends its corrective-action policies and procedures to be progressive. The following guidelines are provided to assist supervisors and staff in understanding expected conduct and performance, as well as typical (not required) corrective actions. Duke also reserves the right to effect immediate termination, if such action is deemed necessary.

Expected Conduct and PerformanceSuggested Corrective Action Step: Written WarningSuggested Corrective Action Step: Final Written Warning/SuspensionSuggested Corrective Action Step: Termination
Performance and Work Requests and Assignments   
Perform assigned tasks safely, competently and according to performance and behavioral expectations of the department/work unit.X  
Successfully perform assigned job duties consistent with standards – both those specifically part of the job description and other duties related to the job (as assigned by a supervisor).X  
Cooperate and collaborate with supervisors and co-workers in performing assignments and service requests.X  
Compliance with Policies and Procedures   
Comply with all Duke, unit and department policies and procedures (i.e., administrative, Human Resources, clinical, financial, animal, and safety policies and procedures).X  
Disclose possible conflicts of interest and/or conflicts of workplace commitment.X  
Ensure and protect the confidentiality of sensitive information (oral, written or electronic). Confidential information should not be repeated, discussed or removed from the work area – except for legitimate and authorized work reasons.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Confidentiality Policy.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Confidentiality Policy.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Confidentiality Policy.
Comply with all federal and state standards and laws regulating the provision of professional services (licensure and scope of practice).  X
Behave with honesty and integrity in all employment actions including the maintenance and completion of records and the accurate recording of time worked.  X
Availability for work   
Attend work as scheduled – that is, arrive on time fully prepared to begin work and remain at work through the entire work period and request authorization according to established department procedures if there is a need to leave the workplace.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Availability for Work Policy. This is the only Expected Standard in Progressive Corrective Action Track B.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Availability for Work Policy. This is the only Expected Standard in Progressive Corrective Action Track B.Corrective action steps can vary depending on circumstances. See specific guidelines under the Duke Availability for Work Policy. This is the only Expected Standard in Progressive Corrective Action Track B.
Attend work as scheduled   
Notify the supervisor well in advance of any unscheduled absence in accordance with department notification procedures.X  
Being absent without notice for three consecutive workdays constitutes voluntary resignation.  X
Safety and Use of Duke Property   
Use and safeguard the property of others and of Duke through proper and authorized use.X  
Use Duke’s property only for legitimate work purposes (telephones, e-mail, facsimile machines, computers, printers, copiers, cell phones, tools, vehicles, furniture and other work-related equipment). X 
Teamwork and Workplace Behavior – The maintenance of appropriate workplace behavior that fosters collaboration, customer service and teamwork   
Use respectful, courteous and helpful language when communicating with supervisors, co-workers and customers. Loud, boisterous and intimidating language will be a violation of accepted workplace standards and is not appropriate.X  
Adhere to and comply with Duke and department-specific safety policies and training requirements. Identify safety issues, and report all hazards, incidents and safety concerns on a timely basis.X  
Be productive and use all available time to accomplish expected work tasks – personal business should be accomplished outside of work time and/or during scheduled time-off.X  
Dress for work according to the department’s workplace attire guidelines – including the appropriate display of the Duke identification badge.X  
Being disruptive, discourteous and/or insubordinate conduct will not be tolerated. X 
Acting inappropriately (such as using profane, suggestive or abusive language) is a violation of accepted workplace standards and will not be tolerated. X 
Acting inappropriately such as, sleeping on the job (non-patient care position), working or suspected of working under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a violation of accepted workplace standards. X 
Acting inappropriately such as, fraud, abuse, threats, harassment, illegal activities, sleeping on the job (patient care position), or possessing a weapon is a gross violation of accepted workplace standards and will be grounds for immediate termination.  X
Conduct that causes or threatens harm to others or that constitutes persistent, unwanted behaviors will not be tolerated and will be grounds for immediate termination.  X

Suspensions

Disciplinary Suspension

In the case of serious misconduct, it may be necessary to protect the safety and security of the workplace by suspending the involved staff member(s) and removing them from the workplace. This corrective action is usually unpaid.

Investigatory Suspension

Prior to discharge, it may be advisable to suspend the staff member, pending investigation of the facts, to determine whether termination is the appropriate course of action. While the supervisor is considering termination, the staff member(s) may be relieved from duty and suspended from employment pending a full investigation of the circumstances. Suspension pending investigation normally is paid.

The investigation may have one of the following results:

  • if the circumstances do not justify the suspension, the staff member(s) will be paid for the period of the suspension and be returned to the workplace, although other corrective action may be taken;
  • if the circumstances do not justify termination but are serious and justify disciplinary suspension, the staff member(s) may not be paid for the period of the suspension; or other corrective actions may be issued; or
  • if the circumstances justify termination, the staff member(s) will be dismissed and a final paycheck will be issued.

Performance Improvement Plan

From time to time, supervisors are faced with a staff member whose performance is below expectation. The purpose of the "Performance Improvement Plan" is to help supervisors and staff address and resolve performance issues. This guidance should be used in concert with the advice received from the entity and/or department Human Resources representative and/or a Staff and Labor Relations representative.

The "Performance Improvement Plan" aims to fulfill the following goals:

  • To improve and sustain the desired behavior and performance results of each staff member.
  • To address performance discrepancies identified through the performance management process.
  • To provide identification of compliance, expected behaviors and/or expected job results that do not meet performance expectations.
  • To provide adequate descriptions of required performance improvements.
  • To initiate action steps that a staff member might take to correct performance – including identification of training and other resources available.
  • To provide a timetable outlining the dates by which improvement will be necessary.
  • To provide a statement of consequences that will occur if required improvement is not achieved. This statement will be written in SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action, Results, Time Bound) format and will include appropriate time lines.
  • To require regular meetings for the supervisor and staff member.
  • To require cooperation and ongoing communication between supervisor and staff member.

An underlying assumption in the successful resolution of performance issues is that taking action early is always better than waiting. This statement is definitely true when considering ways to prevent performance problems. Early communication and early feedback (both positive and corrective) are good ways to prevent future performance problems. Investing time early is always time well spent.

The Performance Improvement Plan form is available here.

Policy Number: 04.01

Issued Date

July 1, 2006
Related Links

Categories

Workplace Expectations & Guidelines Policy