Human Resources

Review Committees for Unsatisfactory Performance/Misconduct: Academic

Further information

UWA Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct

The University deals with allegations of unsatisfactory performance and misconduct in accordance with its policies and procedures.

Decisions are subject to review by an independent Review Committee.

  1. Review Committee
  2. Unsatisfactory performance
  3. Misconduct and serious misconduct

Review Committee

Policy

A Review Committee will be established by the University, when required, to hear requests for reviews arising from recommendations or decisions made by the University.

The Review Committee will review matters relating to:

Review Committee members must act impartially and only consider the case on the grounds for which the employee is seeking review.

The Committee will have three members with one from each of the following categories:

  • a University employee chosen by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and
  • a University employee, chosen by the elected staff representatives of the ACC from a list of employees determined by the Academic Staff Consultative Committee (ACC) staff representatives and
  • a chairperson chosen by the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

A panel of Chairs will be established by the University following consultation with the ACC and the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will select a Chair from this panel.

Chairpersons of Review Committees must:

  • have relevant experience
  • be independent
  • have the confidence of management and employees

The Review Committee will:

  • provide an opportunity, (including at least five working days' notice) for the employee (or employee representative) and the University representative to make submissions and present and respond to written or verbal evidence in relation to the matter before them
  • take into account further materials believed appropriate to assist the review without going beyond the scope of the investigation
  • interview appropriate people
  • allow the employee to be represented by a person of their choice, excluding a currently practising solicitor or barrister
  • allow the University to be represented by an agent of its choice, excluding a currently practising solicitor or barrister
  • ensure that the employee, or representative, and the University, or representative, has the right to ask questions of or put questions to interviewees
  • conduct proceedings as expeditiously as possible with regard for natural justice
  • conduct proceedings in private unless otherwise determined by the Committee
  • keep a record of the proceedings, but not the deliberations, which will be made available on request by the employee and the University
  • permit the University and employee, or respective representatives, to be present for all proceedings, including the making of submissions, and interviews except for the deliberations of the Committee or exceptional circumstances
  • in exceptional circumstances, such as allegations involving harassment, allow interviews to be held via video conferencing to exclude face-to-face interaction
  • make its report available to the nominated person/s (see below) and
  • give directions or make arrangements to ensure that the conduct of its proceedings, recordings and its report are kept confidential and are not disseminated more widely than strictly required

Members of the Committee are required to keep all matters pertaining to the evidence and its deliberations confidential.

Only Members of the Committee, and any person providing administrative assistance to the Committee, will be present during its deliberations after submissions have been completed.

None of the steps or decisions taken by the Review Committee may be challenged under the relevant Dispute Settling Procedures.

Procedures

  • The Vice-Chancellor or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will convene the Review Committee, as soon as practicable, from the date of receipt of a written review application.
  • The Review Committee will report to the academic member of executive and the employee as soon as reasonably practicable, but within 28 working days of the first meeting. The Vice-Chancellor or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor may, on a written application form the Review Committee, grant the Committee an extension of time in which to report.
  • The Review Committee will report on its view as to whether:
    • there is sufficient evidence to uphold the recommendation of the Academic member of Executive or the decision of the University and
    • the relevant procedure has been followed for:
      • Unsatisfactory performance
      • Misconduct

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Unsatisfactory performance

Definitions

Disciplinary action is action by the University to discipline an employee for unsatisfactory performance, limited to:
  • counselling
  • formal censure
  • withholding an increment
  • demotion by one or more classification levels or increments
  • suspension with or without pay or
  • termination of employment
An academic supervisor is the head of the academic unit in which the employee is employed, provided that the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Dean may delegate in writing another academic staff member classified at Level C or above to be supervisor of one or more academics or group of academics.

Procedures

These procedures do not apply to any action in relation to unsatisfactory performance during a probation period or to termination of employment during a probationary period.

Resolution at local level by the academic supervisor
  • An academic supervisor must make every effort to resolve unsatisfactory performance through guidance, counselling, appropriate academic staff development, and/or appropriate work allocation before a report is made to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • If a supervisor is of the view that the performance of an employee is unsatisfactory, the supervisor must: 
    • counsel the employee on the nature of the improvement required and
    • advise the time within which reasonable improvement can be expected
  • The employee may request that his/her supervisor seek the view of specific colleagues. A written record of the counsel given must be kept and a copy supplied to the employee concerned. If the supervisor believes that it is appropriate, he/she may direct the employee to undertake a course of professional development or other appropriate program(s) designed to assist in improving performance.
  • The employee may be assisted by an employee representative
Non-improvement of performance and written report

If a supervisor believes that counselling or, where appropriate, development and guidance has not produced the desired improvements in performance (within a reasonable timeframe), the supervisor may make a formal written report to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor that the performance of the employee is unsatisfactory. This report must state clearly the aspects of performance seen as unsatisfactory and the record of attempts to remedy the problem(s).

Right of reply to report
  • The supervisor must provide the employee with a copy of the report at the time it is submitted to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • The employee is entitled to 10 working days to submit to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor a written response to the supervisor's report
Determination of Academic Member of Executive, assessment and response
  • On receipt of the supervisor's report and any written response from the employee, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor determines which Academic member of Executive is to deal with the matter.
  • The supervisor and employee will be advised in writing who is dealing with the matter.
  • The Academic Member of Executive:
    • reviews the employee’s personal file
    • ensures that appropriate steps have been taken to bring the unsatisfactory nature of performance to the employee's attention
    • ensures an adequate opportunity to respond was given
    • ensures any response was taken into account
    • ensures a reasonable opportunity has been given to remedy the performance problem and
    • ensures there has been appropriate consultation with the employee's colleagues by the supervisor, where appropriate.
  • The Academic Member of Executive may then:
    • take no further action and advise the employee of this in writing – if the employee agrees this decision may be published in an appropriate manner
    • refer the matter back to the supervisor with a recommendation for further action to be undertaken to attempt to resolve the matter
    • discipline the employee through counselling or formal censure or
    • recommend to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, or nominee, that Disciplinary Action in accordance with the following is in order:
      • withholding an increment or
      • demotion by one or more classification levels or increments or
      • suspension with or without pay or
      • termination of employment and
      • advise the supervisor and employee in writing of his/her decision.
Disciplinary action
  • If the Academic Member of Executive recommends disciplinary action of withholding an increment, demotion by one or more classification levels or increments, suspension with or without pay or termination of employment the employee has up to five (5) working days to request that the matter be referred to a Review Committee established in accordance with Review Committees policy
  • If the employee does not elect to have the matter referred to a Review Committee the Vice-Chancellor will consider the recommendation of the Academic Member of Executive and advise the employee, in writing, of any decision, with the decision to take effect no earlier than five working days from the date of  the Vice-Chancellor’s letter
The Review Committee

If the matter is referred to a Review Committee, established in accordance with policy, the Review Committee will report its findings, in writing, to the Vice-Chancellor or the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the employee as expeditiously as possible but no later than 28 days from the date of the Review committee being established.

The Review Committee report

The Review Committee will provide a written report to the employee and the Vice-Chancellor or the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor on its view as to whether: 

  • there is sufficient evidence to uphold the recommendation of the Academic member of Executive or the decision of the University and
  • the relevant procedure has been followed for:
    • Unsatisfactory performance
Actions by Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor following Review Committee report
  • Following consideration of the Review Committee Report  the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will advise the employee, in writing:
    • that he/she is satisfied that there has been no unsatisfactory performance, or
    • which disciplinary action he/she considers appropriate and how it will be enforced
  • The Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will advise the employee, in writing, of his/her decision, with the decision to take effect no earlier than five (5) working days from the date of  the Vice-Chancellor’s letter
  • A decision to terminate an employee’s employment may only be made by the Vice-Chancellor if the discipline imposed is to be counselling and/or formal censure; the employee is prohibited from requesting a review of this decision

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Misconduct and serious misconduct

Definitions

Disciplinary action is action by the University to discipline an employee for misconduct or serious misconduct, limited to:
  • counselling
  • formal censure
  • withholding an increment
  • demotion by one or more classification levels or increments
  • suspension with or without pay or
  • termination of employment
Misconduct is wilful conduct by an employee which is unsatisfactory.
Serious misconduct is:
  • serious misbehaviour of a kind which constitutes a serious impediment to the carrying out of an employee's duties or to an academic's colleagues carrying out their duties and
  • serious dereliction of the duties required of the academic office and
  • conviction by a court for an offence which constitutes an impediment to the carrying out of an employee's duties and
  • serious misbehaviour or dereliction of duty in the performance of a role within an institution which has recognised formal links to the University where such a role is undertaken as a result of the employee's appointment to the staff of the University.
Examples of "serious misconduct" include:
  • theft
  • fraud
  • misappropriation of funds
  • assault
  • serious bullying or harassment (including sexual harassment)
  • wilfully disobeying a regulation, order, or lawful instruction made or given or
  • repeated actions of misconduct

Policy

Disciplinary action is normally used as a last resort. An allegation(s) of misconduct should, where practical and reasonable, be resolved by the academic supervisor through guidance, counselling, conciliation, or other appropriate action that may include staff development.

During any period of suspension the employee may be excluded from the University and its facilities or workplace, provided that he/she shall be permitted reasonable access for the preparation of his/her case and to collect personal property.

If an employee has been suspended without pay, then any lost income will be reimbursed if there is found to be no misconduct.

A decision taken by the Vice-Chancellor not to dismiss or impose another penalty shall not be construed as an admission that there was no conduct justifying suspension without pay.

Where it is inappropriate or there is an inability to resolve an allegation of misconduct then the allegation must be reported, in writing, to the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor. The report must provide information about the nature and details of the misconduct allegation(s), and any steps taken to resolve the issue.

Termination of employment may only result from a determination that the conduct of the employee amounts to serious misconduct.

Procedures

Allegations which warrant investigation
  • The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine if the allegation/s warrants further investigation.
  • If further investigation is considered warranted, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine which academic member of executive is to deal with the matter and the employee subject to the allegations will be advised in writing who is dealing with it.
Allegations which do not warrant investigation
  • The Academic Member of Executive may refer a matter of alleged misconduct back to the employee's supervisor, or other appropriate person, to attempt to resolve the matter through guidance, counselling, conciliation or appropriate staff development or appropriate work allocation
Suspension
  • If a report of an allegation of serious misconduct is such that it would be unreasonable for the University to continue the employment of the employee, the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor may suspend the employee on full pay, or without pay, taking the following provisions into account: 
    • Where suspension without pay occurs when the employee is on paid leave of absence the employee will continue to receive a salary for the period of leave of absence.
    • The employee may engage in paid employment or draw on recreation leave or long service leave credits for the duration of the suspension without pay.
    • The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor may at any time advise that salary be reinstated on the grounds of hardship, if the employee makes a written request in this regard.
    • The Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, where a matter is referred to the Review Committee, will ensure that a Review Committee at its first meeting with the employee and the University’s representative consider whether suspension without pay should continue and that the Committee shall make a recommendation in this regard and the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will consider the Review Committee’s recommendation prior to making a determination.
Investigation
  • When the University becomes aware of conduct by an employee that may constitute misconduct or serious misconduct, a report must be made to the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor providing information about: 
    • the nature and details of the misconduct allegation and
    • any steps taken to resolve the issue.
  • If the Academic Member of Executive in receipt of the report believes the allegation, if proven, would constitute misconduct or serious misconduct, the Academic Member of Executive may commission an investigation.
  • The employee will be advised, in writing, of the investigation and be given the opportunity to be heard and/or submit a written statement.
  • If an investigation has been conducted (other than as outlined above but in accordance with University Policy), that investigation and report may constitute the investigation
  • The employee can request, in writing, that the investigation also take into account further evidence provided by them.
  • At the conclusion of the investigation, an investigation report will be prepared including: 
    • detail of the alleged misconduct
    • detail of the facts
    • an outline of any evidence and documents relied on
    • conclusions reached on the evidence provided and
    • any mitigating circumstances.
  • A copy of the completed investigation report will be provided to the Academic Member of Executive and the employee.
  • The employee may comment on the report in writing within five (5) working days of its receipt.
  • On receipt of the investigation report and employee’s response, the Academic Member of Executive may: 
    • take no further action or
    • require further investigation in which case the employee will be advised and given the opportunity to be heard and/or provide further written comment to the person conducting the investigation. In this case, no further action will be taken until the Academic Member of Executive has received a further report and the employee’s comments on that report; or
    • accept the report in part or full and recommend to the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor that disciplinary action be imposed.
Review
  • Written notification of any recommendation by an Academic Member of Executive that disciplinary action be taken will be provided to the employee.
  • An employee may apply, in writing, for a review of the recommendation by the Review Committee within five (5) working days of receipt of advice.
  • If seeking a review the employee must state the grounds on which he/she is seeking a review and the grounds must be based on the findings of the investigation report and subsequent recommendation and be submitted to the Academic Member of Executive.
  • If the disciplinary action is to be counselling and/or formal censure, the employee cannot request a review of this decision.
  • If an employee seeks a review of the recommendation, the Academic Member of Executive will forward all relevant paperwork to the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
  • On receipt of the report of the Review Committee, the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor will determine the matter.
  • If the employee does not seek a review within five (5) working days the Academic Member of Executive will forward the matter to the Vice-Chancellor or Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor who will determine the matter.
Determination of disciplinary penalty

The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor may impose disciplinary action as follows: 

  • counselling
  • formal censure
  • withholding an increment
  • demotion by one or more classification levels or increments or
  • suspension with or without pay

The Vice-Chancellor may impose disciplinary action as follows: 

  • counselling
  • formal censure
  • withholding an increment
  • demotion by one or more classification levels or increments
  • suspension with or without pay or
  • termination of employment

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