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Policy: Probationary Period for University Staff Employees 


Date: 01/01/11 Policy ID: HRM-020 Status: Final

Policy Type: University
   
Contact Office: Consulting Services (UHR)
   
Oversight Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
   
Applies To: Academic Division and College at Wise.
   
Table of Contents: Policy Statement
    1. Performance Expectations and Progress Reviews
    2. Extended Probationary Period
    3. Disciplinary Action or Termination during Probationary Period
    4. Transfers and Other Changes in Status
    5. Roles and Responsibilities
Procedures
   
Reason for Policy: The University strives to hire and retain a knowledgeable and competent staff. This policy establishes guidelines under which a University Staff employee serves a trial period in order to both demonstrate the ability to perform the duties and fulfill the responsibilities of the position and to assess interest in and suitability for the position.
   
Policy Summary: 
   
Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Probationary Period: The period of initial employment (typically twelve months), that provides the employee and the University the opportunity to assess whether the employee is suited for the position.

University Staff Employee: Those salaried, non-faculty employees hired on or after July 1, 2006, and those salaried non-faculty employees and administrative and professional faculty electing to participate in the University Human Resources System established by the Board of Visitors under the authority granted by the Restructuring Act and the Management Agreement.

Restructuring Act: The Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act, Chapter 4.10 of Title 23 of the Code of Virginia.

Management Agreement: The agreement between the University and the Commonwealth required by Subsection D of §23-38.88 of the Restructuring Act.

There are 3 Types of University Staff Employees:
Executive & Senior Administrative Staff: University staff employees on limited term appointments having significant administrative responsibilities and duties and exercising considerable independent discretion, and having the ability to commit the University to a long term course of action.  
            This category includes:
    • University Executive officers including Vice Presidents and the Director of Athletics but excluding academic administrators (whose primary responsibility is administrative but who oversee an academic or academic-support unit of the institution) such as the Provost, Deans, University Librarian, and VP Research;
    • Members of the President’s professional staff (e.g. Chief of Staff, Chief Audit Executive; Director, Equal Opportunity Programs; etc.); and
    • Senior administrative officers with a direct reporting line to any of the above-named executives, academic administrators or Presidential professional staff, for example, Associate or Assistant Vice Presidents, Associate or Assistant Deans with administrative responsibilities, Vice Provosts with administrative responsibilities, Executive Directors, Directors, or other key senior staff.

Managerial & Professional Staff Employee (M&P): University staff employees who manage a division or subdivision of a major academic or administrative unit and/or exercise significant knowledge, discretion and independent judgment gained through advanced education or experience. This category includes coaches and assistant coaches on individually negotiated contracts.  M&P Staff are typically exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and therefore not eligible for overtime.

Operational & Administrative Staff Employee (O&A): University Staff employees performing office, laboratory, student and library support; building construction and maintenance; equipment services; public safety; and other operational responsibilities.  O&A Staff Employees are typically classified as a Non-exempt employees under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
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Policy Statement: 

All University Staff employees in Managerial & Professional and Operational & Administrative Staff positions, newly hired or rehired following a break in service, must serve a minimum twelve month probationary period effective from the date of hire.  The probationary period allows the University department or school to evaluate the progress and skills of the newly hired employee against established performance and conduct expectations, determine appropriate assignments and monitor other aspects of the employee’s performance.  The probationary period also presents the employee the opportunity to gauge the appropriate fit between the employee’s skills, interests and experience and the requirements of the position.

University Staff in M&P positions who were hired on an individually negotiated contract are not required to serve a probationary period, but are governed by the terms and conditions of their employment contract.

University Staff in Executive positions are not required to serve a probationary period, but are governed by the terms and conditions of their employment agreement.
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  1. Performance Expectations and Progress Reviews:
    Supervisors are required to establish written performance and conduct expectations within the first thirty days of employment, and to provide feedback, training, coaching, and mentoring for all probationary employees during the probationary period and thereafter.  At a minimum, supervisors must meet with probationary employees at six months to inform the employee of progress in achieving or exceeding performance goals.  A written six-month evaluation is expected for all probationary employees. 

Decline in performance during the second half of the twelve month period following a satisfactory review may result in either the extension of the probationary period or termination.  Immediately prior to completion of the twelve month period, supervisors must meet with employees to review performance.  Supervisors should notify employees in writing when the probationary period has been successfully completed.  Satisfactory completion of the probationary period does not automatically entitle the employee to continued employment.  After successful completion of the probationary period, the employee is governed by the policy on Terms and Conditions of Employment for University Staff Employees and all other applicable University policies.
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  1. Extended Probationary Period:
    Supervisors may extend the probationary period beyond the twelve months for up to six additional months for extenuating circumstances such as absences, a new supervisor, or change in duties; however, the total probation period may not exceed eighteen months, excluding periods of leave with or without pay (see paragraph below). The probationary period may not be extended due to continued unsatisfactory performance or conduct reasons.  Employees must be notified in writing if their probationary periods will be extended. Failure to notify the employee in writing of an extension will end the probationary period at the 12-month mark.  The reasons for extending probation must be documented by the supervisor and this decision approved by an independent reviewer within the supervisor’s management chain.  The required documentation must provide specific information to the employee about performance expectations, the reasons for extension, and the period for which probation is extended.

Probationary periods must be extended by the same amount of time as the leave taken when probationary employees are on any leave with or without pay for more than ten consecutive working days (i.e., 80 consecutive working hours). Such leave includes Workers’ Compensation, Family Medical Leave, Military Leave, or VSDP (Virginia Sickness and Disability Program) short term disability leave or long-term disability working status.  Also included are periods of short-term disability where the employee is working in an “active employment” status with restrictions/modifications.

If an employee moves to a new position during the probationary period, the term of the probationary period may remain as the original twelve months or the term may be extended so that the new supervisor has the benefit of the full twelve month period.  However, the total time served in probationary status may not exceed eighteen months (excluding any periods of leave exceeding ten consecutive working days as detailed above).
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  1. Disciplinary Action or Termination during Probationary Period:
    Prior to, or in lieu of termination, supervisors may discipline probationary employees.  The Standards of Conduct, while not mandatory for probationary employees, are recommended to guide the disciplinary process.

At any time during the probationary period, the hiring department or school may determine that the employee is unsuitable for the position and may terminate the employee for any reason not otherwise prohibited by law; however, supervisors must document the reasons for termination, and must provide employees with notice of termination.  Approval by an independent reviewer in the supervisor’s management chain is required for any termination of a probationary employee.  Supervisors must consult with Human Resources prior to terminating a probationary employee.

Probationary employees are terminated without recourse to the State Grievance procedure (Title 2.2, Chapter 30; §2.2-3000 et seq. Code of Virginia) or the University’s Resolving Grievances Policy.  

Employees concluding that they are unsuited for the position may resign at any time during the probationary period.
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  1. Transfers and Other Changes in Status:
    The following University Staff Employees who have successfully served a probationary period and received a satisfactory performance evaluation from their prior supervisors are not required to serve a new probationary period if they are:
    • transferring to another University Staff position within the University;
    • promoted to new positions within the University;
    • transferring from other State agencies (including state institutions of higher education and the University of Virginia Medical Center) to positions within the University;
    • in a classified position, have satisfactorily served a probation period, and have elected University Staff status.

Administrative & Professional (A&P) faculty and academic faculty (teaching and research) who elect University Staff status and have completed the first twelve months of employment are not required to serve a new probationary period.   A&P and academic faculty having less than twelve months of service and electing University Staff status will serve the remainder of their first twelve months as probationary employees.
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  1. Roles and Responsibilities:
    The Employee is responsible for:
      • Understanding the performance expectations established for the position and how the assigned duties and responsibilities contribute to the University’s mission and strategic goals and objectives. 
      • Participating in the process of developing performance expectations.
      • Performing duties of the position in accordance with established expectations.
      • Actively discussing performance with the supervisor throughout the probationary period and beyond.
      • Completing a self-evaluation (strongly encouraged).
      • Complying with University policies and procedures.

      The Supervisor/Department Head is responsible for:

        • Explaining the purpose of the twelve month probationary period to the staff employee on the employee’s first day of work.
        • Establishing and communicating written performance and conduct expectations within the first 30 days of employment regarding job performance in the new position.
        • Communicating the University’s core values and leadership principles.
        • Providing training covering specific duties and responsibilities of the position.
        • Providing feedback during the probationary period and completing the written six-month evaluation.
        • Maintaining confidentiality of the evaluation document and other related Human Resources forms.
        • Consulting with Human Resources prior to a termination.
        • Understanding and actively supporting the University’s performance management process.
        • Changing employee performance expectations when major changes to an employee’s job occur.
        • Ensuring compliance with all federal and state law and University policies.

        University Human Resources is responsible for:

          • Providing employee and supervisory training on the performance management process.
          • Providing support and coaching to supervisors and employees.
          • Monitoring and administering the probationary performance management process.
          • Maintaining records and providing reports as necessary.
          • Ensuring compliance with all federal and state law and University policies.

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Procedures: Probationary Progress Review Form
   
Related Information: Performance Management for University Staff Employees
Terms and Conditions of University Staff Employment
   
Policy Background: 
   
Major Category: Human Resource Management
   
Category Cross Reference: 
   
   
Process: 
   
Next Scheduled Review: 01/01/14
   
Approved By, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 01/24/09
   
Revision History: Updated 3/30/11, 1/1/2011, 6/2/09.
   
Supersedes (previous policy):