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Counseling Process for Staff


Staff may be disciplined for reasons of inadequate performance, misconduct, violation of established policies and procedures, or other cause. These guidelines outline the counseling process which may be utilized prior to taking disciplinary actions for staff.

Applies to: 

Unclassified Professional Staff (UPS) and University Support Staff (USS) appointed to regular positions.

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 

The University supports the philosophy of counseling staff to address problems of job performance or conduct issues by taking appropriate levels of corrective measures. The counseling process usually starts with documented verbal counseling and escalates to levels of counseling such as written reprimands if problems continue. Problems of performance or conduct should be addressed by supervisors through this process in a timely manner. Supervisors who are considering the counseling process should notify their administrative channels and contact Human Resource Management (HRM) for assistance in developing counseling strategies.

The University may take disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, for seriously inadequate performance, misconduct or other cause, at any time without prior counseling or discipline.

Counseling Process
Counseling should generally precede disciplinary action, except in more serious circumstances. Depending on the circumstances, the employee may be disciplined without prior counseling and/or without advance notice.

Problems should be addressed in a meeting between the employee and the supervisor to discuss the nature of the problems, improvement strategies, and target improvement dates. The details of the counseling session should be recorded as written documentation of the discussion and maintained by the supervisor in the University’s performance management system.  When feasible, adequate time should be allotted for improvement to occur. Follow-up meetings between the employee and supervisor may occur to ensure that performance is improved and/or misconduct has not reoccurred. 

If the problems are related to performance, counseling documentation should take the form of a performance improvement plan with goals and expectations for improved performance or a special evaluation in accordance with the Staff Performance Evaluation policy.

If the problems are misconduct issues, counseling may proceed progressive discipline and takes the form of documented verbal counseling, and/or a counseling letter which outlines expected changes, required timelines, and resulting consequences if problems reoccur. This documentation should be recorded in the University’s performance management system.

Disciplinary Process
Performance and/or conduct problems may persist despite application of the counseling process; in such cases, disciplinary action should be recommended pursuant to the Disciplinary Action Policy for Staff. In some cases, disciplinary action may be taken in the absence of prior counseling.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Staff who are appointed to temporary positions and staff who are within their probationary period are “at will” employees and are therefore exempt from the provisions of this process Their appointments may end as specified or at any time earlier without recourse to appeal.

Non-reappointments of Unclassified Professional Staff (UPS) are not disciplinary actions. This process does not apply to non-reappointments, or to terminations of “serve at the pleasure of” appointments.

This process does not apply to staff covered by a Memorandum of Agreement whose provisions specify a disciplinary action process.


Human Resource Management
103 Carruth-O’Leary Hall
1246 W. Campus Road
Lawrence, KS  66045

Approved by: 
Vice Provost for Administration and Finance
Approved on: 
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Effective on: 
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

Counseling– Includes verbal or written counseling for inadequate performance and/or misconduct. Written documentation should be used to codify corrective measures outlined in counseling.

Disciplinary Action – Includes written reprimands, suspension without pay, involuntary demotion, or dismissal for inadequate performance and/or misconduct.

Inadequate Performance – The performance of one’s job duties which does not meet an acceptable level of standards and/or expectations of a supervisor and/or manager.

Misconduct – Any action or behavior that is in violation of University policy, is contrary to professional standards of conduct, or is disruptive to effective University operations.

Counseling, termination, dismissal, disciplinary action, suspension, firing, demotion
Change History: 

03/12/2019: The title VP for Administration and Finance no longer exists. Future approvals will be made by the Vice Provost for Operations. 
06/29/2017: Policy uploaded into Policy Library
Previously section C.4.k of the 1998 Handbook for Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff and included in the University Support Staff Handbook. The language from C.4.k has also been reproduced in II.E.6 of the current Handbook for Faculty and Other Unclassified Staff, with this statement: “The content of this section is being reviewed by the Department of Human Resources in 2009-2010, with approval by the Provost. If you have specific questions during that time please call HR at 785-864-4946 or email hrdept@ku.edu .” Previous information was also provided in the retired Handbook for University Support Staff. This policy supersedes those documents.

Personnel: Staff Categories: 
Grievance & Appeals
Workplace Rules & Guidelines

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