8.3 Disciplinary procedures: probationary employees

Procedures for dealing with work or conduct issues in respect of all university and support staff on probation.

See also Section 3.2

If a problem relating to a probationer's work or conduct is identified at any stage of the probationary period, the probationer should normally first be given private and informal counselling, with a view to establishing the cause of the problem and advising appropriate remedial action.

If this informal counselling does not resolve the problem, or if the problem is sufficiently serious to warrant formal action without the need for prior informal counselling, a formal interview should be arranged between the department and the postholder to consider the situation. The probationer should be advised in advance of the aspects of his or her work or conduct which are causing concern and that he or she may be accompanied at the interview by a union representative, or a colleague of his or her choice from within the University. At the meeting the departmental representative(s) will set out their concerns and the probationer will have the opportunity to state his or her case. If, on the evidence available, the department believes that a formal warning is appropriate, this should be given in the course of the interview. This warning should be confirmed in writing to the post-holder. The letter should make clear that if the necessary improvement is not achieved within a specified period (which may involve an extension of the probationary period) the appointment will not be confirmed and the probationer dismissed with appropriate notice. This will therefore constitute a final warning.

Following any formal warning, departments should monitor the situation and, within or at the end of the period specified for improvement (as appropriate), should formally review the progress of the probationer. This should culminate in a formal interview at which the department will give its view of the probationer's progress and the probationer, who may be accompanied by a union representative, or by a colleague of his or her own choice from within the University, will have the opportunity to state his or her case, before any decision is taken concerning his or her employment.

In cases of alleged serious misconduct the probationer must not be dismissed instantly: rather the head of department, or a duly authorised nominee acting on his or her behalf, should normally suspend the probationer on the currently appropriate rate of pay pending an investigation and any subsequent hearing. The currently appropriate rate of pay is the basic pay to which the probationer would be entitled under the terms of his or her contract were he or she not suspended (the currently appropriate rate of pay would normally be full pay; but it may for example be, or change during suspension to, half pay or no pay under the provisions of the University's sick pay scheme). All cases involving such suspension should be reported at once to Personnel Services. The subsequent hearing should normally be held within five days and the probationer concerned will be informed of the complaint against him or her. The probationer will have the right to state his or her case and be accompanied at his or her request by a union representative, or by a colleague of his or her choice from within the University.

In cases of alleged serious misconduct, following the hearing described above, Personnel Services should be consulted before disciplinary action (if any) is taken. The head of department, or a duly authorised nominee acting on his or her behalf, will then inform the probationer in writing of the disciplinary action (if any) which will be taken. In cases where serious misconduct has been substantiated dismissal may be summary; i.e. dismissal without notice and without payment in lieu of notice.

Examples of some acts at work for which after the due processes of investigation and hearing the disciplinary action of summary dismissal may result include theft, violence, wantonly endangering the safety of others, harassment (as defined within the University's Policy and Procedure on Harassment and Bullying), wilful damage to university property, and incapability through alcohol or being under the influence of illegal drugs.

If the head of department or an authorised nominee decides to dismiss the probationer, the probationer will have the right of appeal to a panel constituted under Personnel Committee procedures. Any such appeal should be notified to Personnel Services within ten days of written confirmation to the postholder of the department's decision to dismiss. The postholder may be accompanied at the hearing of any appeal by the panel by a union representative, or colleague of his or her own choice from within the University.