Resolving Performance Problems

To be read in conjunction with

Resolving Performance Problems SOP

Approval Date
28 July 2007
Approved By
Chief Executive
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

The purpose of this policy is to ensure performance and disciplinary problems are managed in accordance with statutory provisions and best employer practice.


1.         Principles

1.1          Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd) will endeavour to ensure employees are fully aware of the standards of work performance and behaviour expected of them.

1.2          Work performance standards are set out in employment agreements and in other communications from Otago Polytechnic Ltd from time to time. Behaviour standards are set out in Section 4 - Code of Conduct and in other communications from Otago Polytechnic Ltd from time to time.

1.3          Management will attempt to resolve work performance problems before they become an issue for formal disciplinary action.

1.4          Regrettably, there will be occasions when problems with standards of performance or breaches of the Code of Conduct will occur that need to be dealt with in a formal way, in accordance with Otago Polytechnic Ltd disciplinary procedures.

1.5          Disciplinary procedures will comply with the principles of fairness and natural justice:

  •    Otago Polytechnic Ltd will ensure that the employee is fully aware of the relevant details of the complaint.
  •    The employee will be given a full opportunity to respond to the complaint.
  •    Otago Polytechnic Ltd will be fair and reasonable in decision making.

1.6          Disciplinary procedures will be applied objectively, fairly, reasonably, consistently and in a timely manner.

1.7          Where practicable, investigation of disciplinary matters will take place without undue delay, so that issues can be resolved promptly.

1.8          Except for cases of serious misconduct, before dismissing an employee Otago Polytechnic Ltd will give an employee an opportunity to change their behaviour or to improve their performance, hence the progressive disciplinary process.


2.         Resolving Work Performance Problems

2.1          Where work performance is not reaching the required level, the responsible Formal Leader will raise the issues with the staff member as soon as possible after becoming aware of them.

2.2          Work performance problems will be managed in accordance with the Resolving Performance Problems Procedures.

2.3          The employee will be given a reasonable period and sufficient support to improve their performance to the required level.

2.4          Prior to a Formal Leader instigating a formal process, People and Culture will be consulted.


3.         Code of Conduct

3.1          Misconduct

The behaviour detailed below is deemed to be misconduct.

Misconduct includes but is not limited to:

  • The use of insulting or abusive language which may cause offence to another person, but which falls short of harassment.
  • Wilful misuse of Polytechnic property including intellectual property.
  • Failure to observe safety procedures, working in an unsafe manner, or failing to make proper use of safety equipment where such equipment is installed and/or supplied.
  • Retrieving, storing or distributing or displaying inappropriate or offensive material in the workplace, by electronic or other means, except where such material is legitimately used for teaching or research purposes.
  • Failure to report any work-related accident to the supervisor.
  • Without good reason, failing to notify the supervisor as close as possible to the normal commencing time that you will be late or are unable to commence work for that day.
  • Smoking in non-smoking areas.
  • Persistent lateness or unauthorised absences.
  • Failing to achieve reasonable and clearly communicated performance standards.
  • Failure to notify of a conflict of interest.
  • Disobeying a lawful instruction.

Otago Polytechnic Ltd considers that any disciplinary procedures must be flexible enough to take into account the individual and the nature of the problem involved, and the Polytechnic has the right to make such rules regarding employment behaviour as may be necessary from time to time.


3.2          Serious Misconduct
Otago Polytechnic Ltd considers some inappropriate behaviour to be of a very serious nature - this is termed serious misconduct. Serious misconduct is grounds for summary dismissal i.e., dismissal immediately without notice.

Serious misconduct includes but is not limited to:

  • Any wilful act causing or likely to cause injury or danger to life.
  • Unauthorised altering of any Otago Polytechnic Ltd records, including but not limited to employment records, personnel records, learner records and/or other Polytechnic records or information.
  • Unauthorised disclosure or use of confidential information.
  • Unauthorised possession of Otago Polytechnic Ltd property or another person's property.
  • Wilful damage of the Polytechnic's or other property, in the course of their employment, without reasonable excuse.
  • Intimidation, bullying, harassment, or victimisation of staff or learners
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs as to be, in the opinion of the employee's supervisor, not able to perform normal duties properly and safely.
  • Possessing, or using prescription or prohibited drugs while on Otago Polytechnic Ltd premises or on Polytechnic business without a reasonable excuse or lawful authority.
  • Refusing to obey a legitimate instruction.
  • Smoking in areas where smoking is deemed to be dangerous. 
  • Bringing Otago Polytechnic Ltd into disrepute.
  • Where an employee enters into a relationship with a Polytechnic learner that the employee has power over, and the employee fails to declare the conflict of interest or protect the interests of the learner or Polytechnic.
  • Behaviour, which is described above as misconduct, but which in the circumstances of a particular case is more serious than usual.


4.         Progressive Disciplinary process

4.1          For conduct categorised as misconduct, a Progressive Disciplinary process will be used.

4.2          For all Disciplinary processes, a formal investigation process as detailed in SOP001 (Procedure for resolving Performance problems) will be followed.

4.3          Progressive Discipline consists of the following steps:

1.              Warning
2.              Written Warning

3.              Final Written Warning

4.              Dismissal


Step 1       First occurrence of misconduct may result in a warning - details of which are recorded in the employee's employee file. While a warning is recorded in writing it is not a second step written warning.

Step 2       Further occurrence of misconduct may result in a Written Warning.

Step 3       Third occurrence of misconduct, or first occurrence of conduct which could justify dismissal may result in a Final Written warning.

Step 4       Fourth occurrence of misconduct or first occurrence of serious misconduct may result in Dismissal – with or without the notice provided in the relevant employment agreement depending on the individual circumstances.


4.4           People and Culture must be consulted before any disciplinary investigation is commenced.

4.5           The DCE: People, Culture and Safety must be consulted before any formal warning is issued.

4.6           Copies of any warning documentation under step 1-4 must be given to the employee as well as kept on the employee file.

4.7           Depending on the seriousness of the incident the first or other steps may be skipped.

4.8           Progression from one step to another is where there is another occurrence of misconduct a similar (but not necessarily identical) nature while a warning is in effect.


The effective duration of a warning may or may not be specified. If it is not, it applies for a reasonable time having regard to the nature of the misconduct, and the seriousness of the further occurrence. All warnings will be kept on the Employee File.



  • Conflict of Interest


  • SOP – Resolving Performance Problems
  • Employment Agreements