Academic Staff Disciplinary Procedures
All academic staff members at the University.
Procedures for undertaking a disciplinary process for academic staff members.
1. The law requires that the employer have good grounds to discipline and/or dismiss and that any disciplinary process be carried out in a procedurally fair manner.
2. Procedural fairness requires the following:
- identification of unacceptable conduct/performance and advice of such to the staff member
- an informed opportunity for the staff member to explain the alleged conduct/performance
- an opportunity within a specified time frame for the staff member to correct the conduct/performance, with the assistance and support of the employer (except in the case of serious misconduct or after a final written warning)
- that the employer act fairly towards the staff member, including being active, constructive, responsive and communicative in the employment relationship
- that the staff member deal with the employer in good faith, including being active, constructive, responsive and communicative in the employment relationship
3. The staff member has the right to representation at all stages in the process.
Informal meeting and outcome
4. Where a staff member’s conduct or performance is of concern to the academic head, or where a complaint about staff member’s behaviour or performance is brought to the attention of the academic head, the academic head may raise the concerns with that staff member in the context of an informal meeting if the academic head, at their discretion, considers that is appropriate.
5. The academic head may wish to seek the advice of Human Resources prior to such a meeting. Normally such a meeting will be held between the academic head and staff member alone, however either or both the academic head and staff member may adjourn such a meeting and seek the assistance of Human Resources or a representative of the staff member’s choice respectively.
6. At the informal meeting the academic head will discuss in an informal and constructive manner the aspects of conduct or performance that are perceived to be unsatisfactory. This could include:
- identifying the perceived shortcomings and invite any explanations for them
- outlining the standards of performance or conduct that are required and explaining the ways in which improvement is needed and the period for the staff member to attain those standards
- in the absence of a satisfactory explanation by the staff member, an instruction to improve conduct or performance, in writing, the staff member should be given a copy of the note, and a copy placed on the staff members official University file
7. The outcome of any informal meeting with a staff member may include one or more of the following according to the circumstances:
- an instruction to improve conduct or performance
8. An informal meeting does not constitute a “Disciplinary Meeting” under the terms of these procedures, though any requirements or instructions should be provided clearly by the academic head to the staff member in writing.
9. Following the outcome of the informal meeting, if an action plan is specified, then a further meeting will occur to undertake a review according to the specified action plan. However, following the outcome of the informal meeting, if no actions are required, then the matter will be closed and no further meetings will take place.
10. Where disciplinary issues emerge from the Annual Performance Review Process, any meeting or meetings held as part of the Annual Performance Review will not be considered a disciplinary meeting.
11. Where the academic head at any time (including during the course of the informal or review meeting) considers that the conduct or the performance of the staff member may warrant a disciplinary meeting, the academic head will inform the staff member that an investigation into the facts surrounding the allegation will take place, and will report the matter to the dean or the line manager where there is no dean.
12. The dean should consider involving Human Resources for advice and assistance at this stage. If the dean considers that the matter is limited to allegations of misconduct, then the dean will appoint an appropriate delegate to investigate the allegation/s.
13. The delegate may be the academic head, the dean or another appropriate person or persons.
14. If the dean considers that the matter might constitute serious misconduct, then the dean will report it to the Vice-Chancellor.
15. The Vice-Chancellor will then appoint an appropriate delegate to carry out the investigation.
16. Where there is an alleged case of serious misconduct the staff member may be suspended on full salary from his or her duties while an investigation is carried out.
17. Prior to any disciplinary decision the delegate will conduct an investigation as appropriate.
18. The delegate will seek the advice of Human Resources prior to undertaking any investigation.
19. The staff member will be informed of the allegation or allegations.
20. The delegate will, as necessary, interview complainants, informants, witnesses, and other persons who might have information relevant to the allegations of misconduct or serious misconduct.
21. This could include seeking advice on academic performance from an appropriate independent academic assessor in matters of unsatisfactory academic performance.
22. The delegate will take notes of any interviews and collect documents or materials as relevant to the allegations, whether those interviews and materials be inculpatory (sustain the complaint or allegation), exculpatory (support the staff member), or neutral with respect to the allegations.
23. Where the material and information collected shows that no form of misconduct occurred, the staff member concerned will be informed as soon as reasonably possible, and the matter brought to a close.
24. The collected materials and information will be destroyed, provided that they are not the originals (e.g. materials from the staff member’s personal file).
25. Where the material and information collected tends to establish that some form of misconduct may have occurred, the relevant and appropriate material, notes of interview and information will be provided to the staff member concerned, with sufficient time for consideration before they are requested to respond.
26. The staff member will be advised of their right to a representative and the staff member will meet with the delegate and be given a full opportunity to respond to the allegation or allegations in the context of the material collected and provided.
27. The staff member will be responsive and communicative in the context of the investigation. An staff member’s failure to do so will not prevent the investigation from taking place and the delegate from reaching a conclusion with respect to the allegations.
28. The delegate will consider the response of the staff member before concluding whether any form of misconduct has occurred.
29. The delegate will provide the findings of the investigation to the staff member, together with a written, reasoned explanation for those findings.
30. Where the delegate concludes that a form of misconduct has occurred, the matter will proceed to a disciplinary meeting.
31. The delegate will chair the disciplinary meeting.
32. The delegate will ensure that the staff member has had an opportunity to respond to the allegations, in the context of the materials collected in the investigation and provided to the staff member.
33. The delegate at any stage may seek the assistance of Human Resources.
34. Prior to the disciplinary meeting, the staff member will be informed of the disciplinary options available to the employer, in the context of the findings of the investigation and be informed as to the reasons for the meeting.
35. The staff member will be informed of their right to a representative.
36. Depending on the circumstances and the nature of the allegations, the disciplinary meeting may be held immediately after the investigation is concluded. However, in such circumstance, the rights of the staff member;
- to representation
- to sufficiently know the nature of the allegations with time to consider their response
- to have their response considered, and
- to have the opportunity to raise any matters of mitigation in relation to both findings and penalty prior to the disciplinary decision will not be compromised by this approach
37. Where, the delegate, having considered the explanation provided by the staff member and/or their representative finds that a form of misconduct (including unsatisfactory performance) has occurred, the delegate will advise the staff member of their finding that misconduct or serious misconduct has occurred.
38. The delegate will then invite the staff member to raise any matters of mitigation or any other matter which may be relevant prior to the delegate deciding on the appropriated disciplinary option.
39. The following disciplinary options, including more than one of the options, as appropriate, are available to the delegate, depending on the seriousness of the offence:
- an instruction to improve conduct or performance
- a formal warning - a formal warning may be warranted in situations of any:
i. unsatisfactory performance
ii. misconduct (other than serious misconduct)
- a final written warning - a final written warning may be warranted in situations of any:
i. misconduct that follows a formal warning
ii. unsatisfactory performance after a formal warning or
iii. serious misconduct that might justify dismissal, but where a “second chance” is deemed appropriate
- dismissal with notice
- summary dismissal
40. In those cases where the delegate decides that a formal warning or final written warning is warranted, then this will be recorded in writing and provided to the staff member.
41. There must be a request for an improvement in conduct and/or performance.
42. The staff member must be advised that if performance or conduct does not improve a further warning and/or termination of employment may be possible.
43. A copy of any warning will be noted on the staff members file and the staff member will be advised of this.
44. Appropriate training and support will be provided.
45. In those cases where dismissal is warranted, then the notification of dismissal and the reasons for dismissal will be provided in writing to the staff member.
46. All warnings must be issued with the approval of a Human Resources practitioner. Staff members are advised of their right to challenge any disciplinary action through use of the PROCEDURE FOR RESOLVING EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS section of the Academic Staff Collective Agreement.
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic head means the head of the department/school/research centre/institute or other academic unit in which the staff member is employed.
Dean also refers to the immediate line manager in the case where there is no dean.
Delegate means a member or members of the University to whom the dean or the Vice- Chancellor has delegated the authority to investigate and, where appropriate, to discipline the staff member by virtue of a general or specific delegation.
- the failure of a staff member in their employment to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct or concern for the public interest or the well-being of the students or other staff members of the University; or
- the failure of a staff member to comply with policies, procedures or directions of the University, academic head or other persons in authority at the University; or
- the failure to maintain adequate standards of performance
Serious misconduct means misconduct which is so serious that it may warrant summary dismissal and may include but is not limited to, sexual harassment, assault, theft, fraud, misappropriation, deliberate or repeated disregard of health and safety standards, wilful disobedience, deliberate or repeated misconduct, failure to disclose a conflict of interest, breach of the University’s policy against harassment, behaviour which leads to significant loss of trust and confidence.
Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.
University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Include the following:
Document management and control
Owner: Director, Human Resources
Content manager: Associate Director, HR Advisory
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: 15 October 2014
Review date: 15 October 2019