Document Disciplinary Action


Role of Supervisor

  • Understand department and university policies and procedures regarding conduct
  • Set and communicate expectations for employees
  • Hold employees accountable for conduct
  • Model desired conduct
  • Document conversations

Role of Human Resources

  • Assist managers in assessing the situation
  • Ensure compliance with university policies
  • Coach managers in writing letters and having conversations with employees

Process Steps

  1. Review applicable policy (ie. leave, attendance, etc.)
  2. Review progressive discipline policy
  3. Gather relevant information
    • Past performance reviews
    • Prior disciplinary actions
    • Notes of previous conversations and disciplinary actions
  4. Is there a departmental procedure?
    • If yes, follow that appropriate discipline procedure
    • If no, follow University progressive discipline policy

Progressive Discipline Steps and Responsibilities

Oral Warning

In most, but not all, cases, initial counseling or disciplinary action should be in the form of an oral discussion and warning. Records of all oral, counseling, and disciplinary actions will be maintained by the employee's immediate supervisor.

Action Items

  1. Schedule a meeting with the employee in a private area to ensure privacy
  2. Make notes about what they want to say in advance
  3. State clearly that you are issuing an oral warning
  4. State the consequences of failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement: Further disciplinary may be the result
  5. Document the conversation with a note for your files that includes date and time of the conversation
  6. Document/memorialize conversation with a note to the employee that summarizes issue and expectation

Written Warning

If there are continued problems requiring further action beyond oral warnings, then a formal written warning outlining the extent of the problem, suggested courses of action, and the time period for resolution should be prepared and discussed with the employee. The employee may be required to sign the provided statement, signifying receipt to such communication.

The supervisor, in consultation with an HR Business Partner, initiates a written warning and discussion. The written warning document to the staff member specifies:

  • the unsatisfactory conduct;
  • expectations for future conduct;
  • notice that continued unsatisfactory conduct may result in further disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

When the staff member is given the written warning, the supervisor should discuss the problem with the staff member. A copy of the warning is forwarded to the HR Business Partner for inclusion in the staff member’s official personnel record and the staff member is so advised.

Action Items

  1. Provide a written warning after one or more verbal warnings have been issued and a reasonable time has passed to improve
  2. Written warning examples can be found here
  3. Review written warning with HR Business Partner
  4. Schedule a meeting with the employee in a private area to ensure privacy
  5. Make notes about what they want to say in advance
  6. State clearly that you are issuing an written warning
  7. Describe the performance problem(s) or work rule violation(s) in very specific detail and attach documents which support the supervisor's conclusions
  8. Outline previous steps taken to acquaint the employee with the issue and attach copies of the documents that are referred to
  9. Describe the impact of the problem
  10. Explain the expectations regarding behavior and/or performance
  11. Clarify that if the employee doesn't demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement, the consequence may be further disciplinary action, up to and including termination
  12. Ask employee to sign acknowledging receipt.
    • If the employee refuses to sign the document, the supervisor should sign and date acknowledging the employee’s refusal to sign
  13. Send signed letter to URHR


This is the third step in the process. If the unwanted conduct continues after oral and written warnings have been provided, the supervisor, in consultation with an HR Business Partner, may provide a three-day suspension.

Action Items

  1. Contact HR Business Partner
  2. Schedule a meeting with the employee in a private area to ensure privacy
  3. Make notes about what they want to say in advance
  4. State that the action is a suspension without pay
  5. Inform the employee of the number of days they will be suspended with the beginning and ending dates
  6. Describe the problem, the previous corrective measures, and the impact of the continued behavior or performance
  7. State your expectations and the consequences of failure to improve
  8. Provide letter to employee explaining the reasons for the suspension, the duration and the expectations for a return


If, at the conclusion of a suspension or performance improvement plan, the staff member’s conduct is still unacceptable, the supervisor, in consultation an HR Business Partner will determine if termination is appropriate. The decision to terminate will be based on a review of the facts and circumstances, the documentation and whether or not University policy has been followed. If the decision is made to terminate, the supervisor should give the staff member a letter outlining the reason for the termination and the effective date of the termination.

Discharge without prior warnings or suspensions may be justified for very serious offenses, including, but not limited to: dishonesty, insubordination, or gross misconduct.

Although no employee shall have the right to any formal University hearings before dismissal or other disciplinary action, he or she shall be entitled to invoke the then existing University grievance procedure after dismissal or other disciplinary action (subject to the conditions of this procedure). However, dismissal or other disciplinary action shall not be suspended pending resolution of the employee's claim pursuant to the grievance procedure.

Action Items

  1. Contact your HR Business Partner
  2. Draft termination letter and review with Business Partner
  3. Meet with employee to present letter with a witness
  4. Schedule a meeting with the employee in a private area to ensure privacy
  5. Make notes about what they want to say in advance
  6. State clearly the reason for termination and present letter to the employee
  7. Review separation checklist and provide to employee
  8. Collect University property from employee


Expand All