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HR Services Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I receive notification when the quarterly and final probationary reviews are due?
A:
Human Resources HR Service Center will contact supervisors via email at the time of 3, 6, 9 and 12-month evaluations for all classified probationary employees. This email will give specifics about what forms to complete and where to find additional information related to probationary employees/policies. Upon completion of the probationary period, every classified employee will receive an annual evaluation during their new October through October performance cycle The Human Resource office will communicate this to departments and supervisors through many media, such as emails, HR updates, newsletters and direct communication from HR Service Center Representatives.

Q: What if I want to extend the probationary period for an employee? What do I need to do?
A: All persons starting new employment or re-employment in positions covered by the Virginia Personnel Act (for JMU, this normally means all classified employees) serve a 12 month probationary period from the effective date of employment. The probationary period may be extended for up to 6 additional months beyond the initial 12 months for performance reasons or due to periods of leave with or without pay. Employees must be notified in writing if their probationary period will be extended.

Document the extension on a Probationary Progress Review Form and indicate an effective date. When an extension is made for performance reasons the supervisor will develop an 'Improvement Plan' identifying the goals and objectives and action steps for the specified extended period of time. The extension must be discussed and approved by the reviewer before it is discussed with the employee. Remember, if performance based, that the goal is to help the employee be successful. It is recommended that supervisors schedule regular meetings to discuss progress toward meeting the objectives with the employee. Following approval from the reviewer, discuss the review with the employee. If in agreement, both supervisor and employee sign the Probationary Progress Review form. The signed document becomes the employee's written notification of the extension of the probationary period. Provide a copy to the employee and send the original to HR. See JMU policy 1322 Probationary period for Classified Employees, for more detailed information.

Q: What steps do I take to address inadequate attendance or performance?
A:
Frequent and timely performance feedback is so important when concerns arise about an employee's performance. The first step is usually an informal counseling session that reviews the concern with the employee. At this time, expected performance levels are clarified and questions are addressed with the employee. If the performance or attendance issues continue, a formal written counseling memo can be issued. These memoranda should be given to the employee at the time of the formal discussion with the employee. The Notification of Improvement Needed document can be used in lieu of a written counseling memo. Performance problems that continue may be addressed under the Standards of Conduct. These written notices are issued to classified employees and filed in the Human Resource personnel file. Written Notices are cumulative in nature and may result in suspension or termination. It is best to take progressive discipline steps where possible although some issues are serious enough to warrant immediate issuance of a written notice. Consultation with your HR Service Center Representative is recommended if you have questions or concerns as to which route to take when performance problems arise. See JMU Policy 1317 Standards of Conduct and Performance for Classified Employees for more detailed information.

Q: When should I fill out a Notification of Improvement Needed Form?
A:
A Notification of Improvement Needed form is an instrument used to communicate substandard performance and poor conduct. Supervisors should immediately identify poor, substandard or unacceptable performance. Substandard performance on any core responsibility or special assignment may result in a Notification of Improvement Needed form. Supervisors and reviewers must approve and sign these forms. An employee must receive at least one Notification of Improvement Needed form or receive a Written Notice during that performance cycle to be eligible for an overall rating of Below Contributor in the annual performance evaluation. The supervisor develops an improvement plan - with specific timelines - addressing the area(s) that require immediate attention. The supervisor should seek the employee's input in developing the improvement plan. A timeline for improvement must be established and must be at least 30 days and no more than 180 days. Per the timeline established, the supervisor must re-assess the employee based on the performance improvement plan to determine if significant progress has been made. Substandard performance on the improvement plan also may result in disciplinary action under the Standards of Conduct. See JMU Policy 1317 Standards of Conduct and Performance for Classified Employees for more detailed information.

Q: How about seeing the file of someone I'm thinking of hiring?
A:
Yes, but only with the candidate's written permission. In the event that the candidate grants permission, Human Resources will prepare any relevant documents (that don't represent the potential for discrimination in the hiring process) for review. Since HR would need advance notice of this request, it would be best to schedule an appointment with your HR Service Center Representative to review the file.

Q: Can I change the work schedules of my employees?
A:
Yes, the supervisor can change work schedules based on the needs of the department. Alternative work schedules may be necessary in some instances to provide effective services to the university community. As far as practicable, the university also tries to provide employees with a work schedule that is flexible enough to allow an opportunity to balance work and other responsibilities. The supervisor must approve alternative work schedules. For additional information, please refer to JMU Policy 1310 Alternative Work Schedules.

Q: I have an employee that wants to take classes. Are they allowed to take classes during working hours?
A:
In general, if the class is directly related to the employee's job duties or is required for a degree-seeking student, it can be taken during work hours with the supervisor's approval. Time away from the job should not exceed more than four hours per week. If the class is not directly job related, the supervisor can still allow time away to attend classes provided that the time is made-up or leave time is used for the hours missed. For additional information, please refer to JMU policy 1402 Faculty-Staff On-Campus Waiver of Tuition Program for Non-Degree Seeking Course Work at JMU.

Q: Is there an exit process for employees?
A:
 Yes, there is an exit process for all employees. Supervisors are responsible for submitting a timely separation PAR form to HR and for retrieving university property such as electronic equipment, JACard, travel card, keys, parking permit, etc. When HR receives the separation PAR, specific departments are notified of the employee’s separation. HR also sends the employee an exit packet of health insurance and COBRA information, etc. and contacts the employee to arrange a time to discuss the material. Classified employees are offered the opportunity to participate in an Exit Interview. See JMU policy 1314 Transfer or Separation from Employment for detailed information.