Personnel Issues

1) What resources are available for dealing with difficult employee situations?

The UF Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides a wide range of services including employee evaluation and referral, consultation services for supervisors, workshops and training sessions, and support groups. Chairs should not attempt to address apparent emotional problems or behavioral issues without assistance from University staff trained to intervene in such situations. Chairs may contact EAP personnel for guidance in making any referrals.

Problems that may warrant referral include:

  • work performance difficulties
  • alcohol or other drug misuse
  • family/relationship difficulties
  • social interaction problems
  • occupational or personal stress
  • legal or financial problems
  • eldercare issues
  • parenting issues
  • physical or mental health issues
  • conflict resolution

More information may be found on the EAP web site: http://www.eap.ufl.edu/

2) How can an administrator help staff members work together as a team?

HRS staff in the various campus satellite offices can assist supervisors with:                        

  • coaching and counseling for their employees
  • serving as mediators at meetings
  • recommending fair and appropriate disciplinary actions
  • ensuring consistency throughout the university community
  • providing information and guidance pertaining to various procedures, policies, and regulations. 

Employee Relations staff also can assist staff with the resolution of workplace disputes; complaint and grievance processes; career counseling sessions; and alternative resources, as necessary.

More information may be found on the Employee Relations web site:  http://www.hr.ufl.edu/emp_relations/disputes.asp

3) How can chairs address conflicts between faculty members or with faculty unable to work amicably?

Unacceptable behaviors can have many causes, from a serious illness to personality conflicts.

Chairs may face the sudden onset of new behaviors, or inherit a long-term conflict.

The chair’s responsibility is to address behaviors that are a threat to individuals, to the smooth functioning of the department, or to the maintenance of a supportive classroom and teaching environment. To address behaviors, the chair may need to contact an appropriate professional for intervention or to develop a strategy to implement change. Chairs should work with the college HRS office or HRS Employee Relations or the General Counsel’s Office, depending on the nature and severity of the issue, to devise a strategic approach.

There are many resources available to assist the chair in mitigating behavioral issues in the department, and it is adroit management practice to take advantage of them and use available expertise.

4)  What are some basic rules for dealing with faculty or staff behavioral issues?

In instances where behavior threatens the individual her or himself, others, and/or impinges on the smooth operations of the unit, chairs may need to address the issue immediately. The UF Police Department (UPD) can respond within minutes, and are specially trained to deal with situations in a university environment: http://police.ufl.edu/

For Emergencies dial 911

5) What are the chair’s responsibilities related to faculty and staff performance issues?

Annual evaluations for faculty and staff, and the periodic Sustained Performance Evaluations (SPE) for faculty, are available methods to address a staff’s or faculty member’s ability to meet her or his assignment.  Evaluations should provide clear, consistent information on what the employee needs to do to meet her or his obligations.

If the chair can identify some form of help that would make a difference—assigning a teaching mentor or providing training, for example—the chair should make reasonable efforts to provide the help.

The SPE process can generate a “performance improvement plan” for faculty that provides clear steps to rectify the situation.

However, if these processes fail to result in improved job performance, there are various levels of discipline that can be imposed. If a chair believes discipline is warranted, she or he should contact the college’s Human Resources officer, associate dean for faculty, or, in severe cases, the General Counsel’s Office, to discuss what options are available.

6)  What should chairs do if confronted with behavior apparently caused by drugs or alcohol?

The University is committed to providing a campus environment free of the abuse of alcohol and the illegal use of alcohol and other drugs. The University has adopted and implemented programs that seek to prevent the illicit use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol by University community members.

Violation of the policies and laws described in the UF Drug-Free Workplace Statement by an employee or student is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with applicable University and the Florida Board of Education regulations and/or collective bargaining agreements: http://www.hr.ufl.edu/emp_relations/policy/df_statement.asp

As with other forms of personnel intervention, a chair should seek help in how best to address the situation by contacting Employee Relations at 392-1072, or emprel@ufl.edu.  

7)  What should chairs do about a student, faculty or staff member who appears to be having psychological or personal problems?

The Office of Human Resource Services (HRS) has developed an informational guide to aid in assisting employees experiencing difficulties:

Helping Employees in Distress:  http://hr.ufl.edu/working-at-uf/support/employees-in-distress/

8) How do chairs assist faculty or staff with a serious illness?                                                                                                       

Sick leave accruing Academic Personnel, USPS and TEAMS employees begin earning sick leave from the time they are employed; it is credited on the last day of each pay period.

There is no waiting period for using sick leave. Except in the case of approved parental leave, employees may only use what is available in the balance prior to future accrual. Sick Leave policy: http://hr.ufl.edu/leave/sick.asp

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) http://hr.ufl.edu/benefits/leave/fmla/ provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave.

Eligible employees can be granted up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or childbirth;
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, and to care for the employee's newly adopted child or a child newly placed in the foster care of the employee;
  • To care for the employee's family member with a serious health condition; or
  • The employee's personal serious health condition.

Employees may choose to use accrued paid leave instead of unpaid leave for any portion of the 12 workweeks. In addition, faculty, TEAMS and USPS in leave-accruing positions may use unearned sick leave to fund some portion of a parental leave: http://www.hr.ufl.edu/leave/fmla.asp

Extended leave encompasses forms of leave with or without pay that last longer than 15 consecutive workdays. Extended leave may be provided for medical (self and family), parental, military, and personal reasons: http://hr.ufl.edu/leave/extended.asp

The University has a sick leave pool which employees in sick-leave accruing positions can join: http://www.hr.ufl.edu/leave/sickleavepool/default.asp

9)  How can chairs get a "difficult" employee to change their behavior?

It is an essential UF goal to maintain a safe and comfortable workplace and academic setting for all members of the University community.  Certain standards of conduct have been established that cover every member of the UF community. Actions in violation of these standards include:

  • Violent acts
  • Threats (direct or implied)
  • Unlawful harassment (verbal or physical)
  • Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Intimidation

Disruptive behaviors will result in appropriate University response including disciplinary action and/or criminal prosecution.

If confronted with violent behavior by a faculty or staff member, the chair should take immediate steps to protect the individual and others without endangering her or himself.

For non-emergency situations, UF’s three-tier approach focuses on:

  • prevention
  • threat management
  • behavioral issues and crONE.UF intervention

Chairs should take time to review and become familiar with the steps to assess and manage these types of situations: http://www.hr.ufl.edu/emp_relations/policy/workplace-violence.asp

10) When should chairs recommend counseling?

The Employee Assistance Program offers free, voluntary, and confidential services to help employees address a range of personal and work-related concerns, such as stress associated with change and transitions, and job and career difficulties.

Chairs should be careful, however, in making recommendations to employees about seeking help.  As with other personnel interventions, a chair’s best move would be to contact HRS for assistance about the most appropriate way to handle the situation.

More information is available on the EAP web site: http://www.eap.ufl.edu . Employees can arrange an appointment by calling392-5787.

11) Can administrators terminate a staff member immediately?

It depends on the staff member’s classification, and the particular circumstances.  There are two general staff classifications, both of them non-exempt, hourly employees:

  • TEAMS (Technical, Executive, Administrative, and Managerial Support)
  • USPS (University Support Personnel System; staff hired prior to January 2003 who chose not to become TEAMS).

TEAMS and USPS staff have somewhat different rights related to employment.  Some specific situations are outlined below:

Non-Reappointment:

TEAMS employees may be issued a Notice of Non-Reappointment (i.e., may be non-renewed) at any time. The decision not to issue another appointment of employment is not a “termination” for misconduct and therefore does not require “just cause” to support the decision. The non-reappointment process is governed by University Regulations. To proceed with such an action, a chair should contact the HRS representative in the college.

An employment appointment does not create any right, interest, or expectancy of continued employment. At any time during any appointment, TEAMS employees may be non-renewed upon appropriate written notice:

  • TEAMS employees hired before June 30, 2005, must be given 6 months’ notice that their appointment will not be renewed.
  • TEAMS employees hired after June 30, 2005, must be given 3 months’ notice that their appointment will not be renewed.

Note: USPS employees can only be terminated for just cause or layoff.

Layoff:

A USPS or TEAMS layoff is defined as a termination of employment due to abolishment of positions caused by:

  • adverse financial circumstances
  • reallocation of resources
  • reorganization of degree or curriculum offerings or requirements
  • reorganization of academic or administrative structures, programs, or functions
    • curtailment of one or more programs or functions
    • shortage of work or a material change of duties.

A USPS or TEAMS staff member may be laid off at any time as a result of these changes. A minimum 45 calendar-day notification of layoff should be provided.

An employee appointed to fill a full- or part-time contract, grant, or auxiliary position, which has been designated as a time-limited appointment, does not have layoff rights.

Human Resource Services is available to assist with non-renewal, layoff, or disciplinary matters involving TEAMS and USPSemployees and should be consulted prior to taking any action to discipline or terminate an employee.

http://hr.ufl.edu/working-at-uf/policies/

12) Are relatives and spouses allowed to work in the same department (nepotism)?

Yes, with some restrictions. UF’s policy with respect to employment of relatives (or related persons) is found in UF Regulation 1.009 Employment of Relatives http://regulations.ufl.edu/chapter1/1009.pdf . Note that the definition of “relative” includes those with whom an individual shares a household.

The situation where related individuals work in the same department is treated as a conflict of interest, and must be addressed and mitigated by a written plan. This situation can arise, for example, when a partner accommodation hire takes place if the partners will work in the same unit. In such cases, the written plan must be created at the time of hire.

In general, a relative may not supervise another relative. Also, an individual may not be hired into a unit in which his/her relative has or would have any direct supervision or influence over the individual's supervisor without agreeing to a plan to mitigate the conflict of interest. Normally a plan would include providing for someone else to supervise the relative.

For guidelines and a nepotism agreement template, see:  http://www.hr.ufl.edu/forms/default.asp#n. A chair may also work with the college associate dean or HRS representative to arrive at an acceptable mitigation plan. The Provost’s Office must approve all mitigation plans involving faculty; HRS must approve all plans involving staff. Mitigation plans must be reviewed annually by the college and updated as necessary.

The Provost’s Office must approve, in writing, the hiring of a related person and/or supervisory employee in academic units.

13) What should I do about grievances or complaints?

Grievances and/or complaints filed by or against faculty or staff can come from both inside or outside the University. They are handled by a variety of offices depending on the nature of the grievance or complaint, and whether or not the faculty or staff member or process is covered by UF Regulations or a collective bargaining agreement. The chair’s intervention early to attempt to informally resolve complaints is recommended. However, an employee can elect to file a formal grievance or complaint. All formal faculty or staff grievances and complaints must be filed with either the President’s office or HRS. If a grievance or complaint is filed related to your unit, you will be contacted by someone from the college office, HRS, or the Provost’s Office for follow-up.

14) What do I do if a faculty or staff want to work from a remote location?

Any remote location assignments are governed by an “Alternate Work Location Agreement” which must be executed and signed by the employee, supervisor/chair, dean or director, and the appropriate vice president (Provost, VP for IFAS or VP for Health Sciences). The full policy and form are located at hr.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/forms/recruitment/alternate.pdf