To be filed with basic FPM chapter 751
Subchapter 1. General Provisions
1-1. AGENCY RESPONSIBILITY FOR DISPCIPLINE
The broad objective of discipline is to motivate employees to conform to acceptable standards of conduct and to prevent prohibited activities. Discipline is a part of the daily responsibility of supervisors and not merely the action taken at times when an employee deviates from accept-able forms of conduct. The supervisor's most effective means o, maintaining discipline is through the promotion of cooperation, of sustained good working relationships, and of the self-discipline and responsible performance expected of mature employees.
Probationary employees and those serving trial periods are excluded from the provisions of this >chapter.< See FPM chapter 315, subchapter 8, for guidance on offenses committed by these types of employees.
1-3. CHOOSING AMONG DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS
Disciplinary actions fall into two categories: informal disciplinary actions (oral admonishments and written warnings) and formal disciplinary actions (letters of reprimand, suspensions, involuntary reductions in grade or pay, and removal). Similarly, employee conduct requiring discipline falls into two categories: behavioral offenses for which progressive discipline aimed at correcting the behavior is appropriate and offenses relating to violation of regulations or laws for which punitive sanctions are required. Disciplinary action should be taken for the purpose of either correcting offending employee behavior and problem situations or for the purpose of imposing punishment necessary to maintain discipline and morale among other employees.
a. Informal disciplinary actions. Informal disciplinary actions are taken by the supervisor on his/her own initiative in situations of a minor nature involving unacceptable behavior. Oral admonitions and written warnings are normally the first steps in progressive discipline for behavioral offenses and they should be documented >(e.g., on the SF 7-B (Employee Record)). < * * In taking an informal disciplinary action, the supervisor will advise the employee of the specific infraction or breach of conduct and exactly when and where it occurred. The employee should be allowed to explain his or her side of the incident. The supervisor will then advise the employee that continued violations will result in formal disciplinary action.
b. Formal disciplinary actions.
(1) Formal disciplinary actions consist of writ-ten reprimands, suspensions, involuntary reductions in grade or pay and removals. Formal disciplinary actions are initiated by supervisors, with advice and assistance on appropriate penalties and other pertinent concerns from the servicing civilian personnel office (CPO). The CPO staff will assure appropriate oral or written coordination with the Labor Counselor on all formal disciplinary actions.
(2) At the time a notice of proposed formal disciplinary action is issued, the CPO staff will notify the deciding official of his or her role. (There is no proposal issued for a letter of reprimand). The deciding official will be advised (either by a personal briefing or through an information paper) of procedural and legal requirements in formal disciplinary actions including the requirement to remain impartial and objective. The advice to the deciding official will be the joint responsibility of the Employee Relations Specialist and the Labor Counselor. The advice should be tailored to the discipline proposed and should advise the decider of applicable case law so that he or she can make an informed and judicious decision. At this stage, the advice, if in writing, should not include "privileged" information such as an assessment of the evidence or any recommendation as to penalty.
(3) Decision notices should contain information demonstrating that the deciding official has considered all of the information available, both aggravating and mitigating. Such notices should also explain what weight was given to the aggravating factors in reaching the final decision, and reflect the deliberation of such official concerning the reasons for arriving at the judgment that the employee did or did not commit the offenses charged. * * Decision notices must be reviewed by the CPO staff and the Labor Counselor prior to delivery to the employee to ensure that the decision is procedurally sound and legally supportable. In the event that the decision notice cannot be delivered to the employee in person because of absence, notice may be delivered by mail. In such cases, proof of mailing should be established.
1-4. DETERMINING APPROPRIATE PEN-ALTIES
a. Disciplinary actions under 5 USC 7503 and 7513 must not be arbitrary or capricious; the penalty selected must not be clearly excessive in relation to the offense and to prior practice, and must not otherwise be unreasonable.
b. Table 1-1 sets forth a range of discretionary penalties which the Department of the Army views as a general guide to supervisors in administering discipline to employees for particular offenses. In taking such disciplinary actions, supervisors should ensure that comparable disciplinary actions are taken for comparable offenses. The table of penalties is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of all offenses. Appropriate penalties for unlisted offenses may be derived by comparing the nature and seriousness of the offense to those listed in the table. * * While the table is provided only as a guide, experience indicates that the reasons for any deviation from the suggested penalties should be fully explained in the notice of proposed disciplinary action. The employee relations staff and the Labor Counselor will be consulted regarding the reasonableness of a penalty.
c. The use of a particular penalty is not mandatory simply because it is listed in the table. Selection of an appropriate penalty involves a responsible balancing of the relevant factors in the individual case. For example, >.since supervisors have a special responsibility for the success of the Army's mission, and their conduct/performance should be an example to other employees, infractions committed by supervisors may call for a more serious penalty than for similar infractions committed by nonsupervisors. Also,. even for offenses where removal is not listed for a first offense, removal for a first infraction may be assessed for an aggravated offense or multiple offenses. Similarly, removal is not required unless the penalty is mandatory by law (see references to the U.S. Code in the remarks column). Oral admonish-meats and written warnings are not considered formal disciplinary actions for the purpose of determining a first, second, or third offense. However, informal discipline may be considered when determining an appropriate penalty. A prior offense of any type may form the basis for proposing an enhanced penalty. Thus, a documented first offense of insubordination followed by a charge of fighting could trigger the "SECOND OFFENSE" identified in the table of penalties. In assessing penalties, consideration should be given to the "freshness" of the previous offense in relation to the current infraction. Aggravating factors on which the agency intends to rely for imposition of an enhanced penalty, such as a prior disciplinary record, .offense by a supervisor,< or the egregiousness of the offense, should be included in the notice of proposed discipline so that the employee will have an opportunity to respond to those factors.
d. In selecting an appropriate penalty, the deciding official should distinguish between misconduct for which progressive discipline aimed at correcting behavior is warranted and misconduct warranting punitive discipline. In general, for progressive discipline the deciding official should select the least stringent penalty thought necessary to get the employee's attention and motivate him/her to improve behavior. For punitive discipline, the deciding official should select the strongest penalty warranted to preclude repeated acts of misconduct by the employee concerned and to deter such misconduct by others. The table of penalties is divided into two sections. Offenses in section A are normally considered behavioral offenses whereas offenses in section B are offenses warranting punitive discipline.
Penalty - Table 1-1
Subchapter 3. Written Reprimands
Written reprimands are made by management officials for the purpose of correcting an employee's conduct, attitude, or work habits, in order to maintain efficiency, discipline, and morale in the civilian work force. All references to written reprimands pertain to formal written reprimands within the meaning of this chapter.
3-2. FORMAL WRITTEN REPRIMAND
a. Consideration of formal written reprimand. A formal written reprimand is appropriate when more stringent disciplinary action other than an oral admonishment is warranted and the circumstances justify the inclusion of a record of the action in the employee's official personnel folder.
b. Supervisory procedures before initiation of reprimand. When a supervisor considers that a written reprimand is required to correct misconduct on the part of a subordinate employee, the supervisor will obtain all available information concerning the alleged misconduct. The supervisor may, at his or her election, discuss the incident with the employee to ensure that all relevant facts are known and to afford the employee an opportunity to explain the basis for his or her actions. Since disciplinary action could result from this interview, supervisors are cautioned that employees may be entitled to union representation during the interview ac-cording to 5 USC 7114(a)(2)(B). Supervisors should contact the civilian personnel office (labor relations specialist) to determine appropriate procedures. When a supervisor has elected to interview the employee, the supervisor has the option of discontinuing his or her examination at any time and obtaining the information through other resources. If, during the inter-view, the employee presents an acceptable explanation for his or her conduct and the supervisor decides discipline is not warranted, the matter will be closed and the employee so advised. If discipline is to be initiated, the supervisor should prepare a memorandum for record of the meeting. When all necessary information is otherwise available and discussion of the misconduct with the employee would be unproductive in the supervisor's opinion, discipline may be initiated without an interview.
c. Preparation of formal written reprimands. The civilian personnel office should be consulted to assure that the letter of reprimand is consistent with governing regulations and local disciplinary policy and practices before delivery to the employee. As a minimum, the letter of reprimand should contain-
(1) A sufficiently detailed description of the violation, infraction, conduct, or offense for which the employee is being reprimanded to enable the employee to fully understand the charges against him or her. Such specifics as the time, place, date, and a description of the incident giving rise to the disciplinary action should be included.
(2) A statement that the reprimand will be made a matter of record and incorporated in the employee's official personnel folder. The statement will > give the specific period of time (which may not exceed 3 years) < that the disciplinary action will remain a matter of record. (See FPM Suppl 293-31, para S4-5g (2)(b).)
(3) > A summary of previous offenses if the reprimand follows prior offenses and is considered progressive discipline. < Additionally, if the employee has failed to take any remedial action previously directed, that fact should be included. At this point,. it may be appropriate to assess whether or not a reprimand is the best form of action to be taken.
(4) A warning that future misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action. This warning will be included in all letters of reprimand.
(5) Advice, if appropriate, regarding services or assistance (such as the Employee Assistance Program) available to the employee to help overcome the deficiency and avoid future recurrences. The employee will be informed regarding any specific action required on his or her part.
(6) Information on the appropriate grievance channel the employee may use to contest the reprimand.
3-3. WITHDRAWAL OF REPRIMAND
a. A formal written reprimand is not permanent in nature and will be withdrawn from the official personnel folder-
(1) Upon expiration of the period specified in the letter of reprimand, or
(2) Upon departure of the employee from the > Department of the Army, < or
(3) Upon determination through an appropriate adjudicatory procedure or by an appropriate management official of the involved activity that the reprimand is unwarranted and must be withdrawn, or
(4) Upon a determination by the initiating supervisor that the employee has sufficiently corrected his or her behavior and the letter of reprimand has served its purpose.
b. At the time a reprimand is withdrawn from the official personnel folder, a review should be made of personnel and supervisory records and files, and all references to the reprimand re-moved unless c below applies.
c. When a reprimand has been cited or relied upon in another disciplinary action, all evidence of the reprimand will not be expunged. A copy of the reprimand will be retained in the adverse action file for the purpose of documenting the employee's disciplinary record.
Table of Penalties