Alternative Discipline: Creative Solutions for Agencies to Effectively Address Employee Misconduct

Alternative Discipline: Creative Solutions for Agencies to Effectively Address Employee Misconduct
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This report contains information on how different agencies are using— or not using—alternative discipline and includes a helpful section on important case law for parties to consider when drafting an alternative discipline agreement.  MSPB found few agencies have a formal policy on alternative discipline, and many agencies do not provide formal training or guidance, which leaves supervisors and organizations to learn about alternative discipline on their own. “Alternative discipline is a great tool for supervisors to consider if they have an employee who is engaging in misconduct,” says MSPB Chairman Neil A.G. McPhie.  “It empowers proposing and deciding officials to work with the misbehaving employee in order to craft a solution that has the greatest potential to change that employee’s conduct.  Traditional discipline should remain an option for management.

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary i

Background iMethodology ii

Findings ii

Recommendations iv

Introduction 1

Forms of Discipline 3

What Is Traditional Discipline? 3

What Is Alternative Discipline? 9

What Federal Agencies Are Doing 13

Guidance and Instruction 13

Keeping Track of Effectiveness 15

Automatic Use of Alternative Discipline 19 Alternative Discipline Based Upon Severity of Offense 22

The Time to Offer Alternative Discipline 24

The Content of Alternative Discipline Agreements 27

 Mutual Agreements Are Contracts 28

 Compliance With Terms 30

 Waivers in the Agreements 32

Knowing and Voluntary Waiver 33

Future Misconduct 35

Admission of Wrongdoing 37

Promise not to Repeat Conduct 38

Alternative Discipline Counts as Progressive Discipline 37

Non-Precedential 41

Confidential 41

Other Agreement Terms 42


Findings 43

Recommendations 45

Appendix A 47

      Appendix 48


Federal employees, their supervisors, agency management, union personnel, especially Human Capital officers and employees across the U.S. Federal Government may be interested in this report.  Additionally, members of Congress, and Federal managers within the Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Personnel Management that is responsible for policy making authority may find this guide helpful as a reference with human resources and civil service matters.  Additionally, students pursuing research for courses within these fields, especially public administration, human resources, employment law, organizational development, and industrial-organizational psychology may find this primary source document that deals with civil service issues helpful for assignments.

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