Policy Number: 411

Policy Suffix:

I. General Policy

Rice University expects all staff to perform their job duties in a responsible and ethical manner, act with honesty and integrity, and respect others in the workplace, as further defined in the policy on Staff Expectations for Working at Rice. Rice further expects supervisors to hold staff to performance expectations. Any action or intervention taken by the supervisor to improve performance under this policy is intended to correct, modify or improve an individual’s performance or behavior and instill commitment and accountability for all involved.

This policy outlines the expectations for helping staff improve inadequate or inconsistent performance and the steps that should be taken if sufficient improvement toward agreed upon goals, does not occur in a timely manner. Supervisors should attempt to address performance deficiencies using a range of options, beginning with conversations about performance and coaching to correct the performance or behavior. If performance does not improve, a more formal approach should be followed, as outlined below.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Office of Human Resources will guide supervisors through the corrective action process and options as needed. Human Resources will be available to discuss infractions and recommend appropriate measures of corrective action.
  2. Supervisors are accountable for setting performance expectations for their staff and overseeing and providing feedback on their performance and behavior. It is their responsibility to employ the appropriate interventions promptly when a staff member falls short of performance or behavior expectations.
  3. Employees are accountable for adhering to the University’s Standards of Ethical Conduct, for complying with University policies and regulations and laws, and for performing job expectations satisfactorily.

III. Definitions

  1. Informal Action. It is preferable that supervisors address performance deficiencies when they arise in as positive and flexible a manner as feasible. Certain situations may warrant action that is not a formal approach. These situations could include providing performance feedback, resetting of expectations, and coaching. These actions are intended to correct performance at the onset, prevent recurrences or further issues, provide an opportunity for growth and learning, and bring levels of performance to satisfactory levels.
  2. Corrective Action. A formal approach that may include one or more progressive interventions available to a supervisor to identify and correct an employee’s inadequate or inconsistent work performance and or inappropriate behaviors, when an informal approach has not resulted in necessary performance or behavioral changes or the deficiency or behavior is significant.
  3. Probationary Period. The probationary period is the first six (6) months of employment in a position during which the University carefully assesses the employee performance to determine whether the employee is able to meet the expectations of the position.
  4. Verbal Warning. A conversation designed to make an employee aware of concerns regarding behavior, attendance, or other aspects of their performance.
  5. Written Warning. A written notice from a supervisor to an employee identifying areas of deficiency, the changes needed to be successful, and possible outcomes for not meeting the performance or other expectations.
  6. Suspension. A period of unpaid time away from the University. Supervisors must consult with Human Resources prior to implementing a suspension, though in a serious matter the employee may be sent home while the supervisor consults with Human Resources.
  7. Involuntary Termination. Separation of an employee from employment at the University. To ensure consistency and alignment with Rice’s principles and values as an employer, all involuntary terminations must be reviewed and approved by Human Resources.
  8. Employment-at-will. Employment at Rice University is an "at will" relationship; either the employee or the employer may dissolve the employment relationship at any time.
  9. Job Abandonment. An employee who is absent without authorization for three or more consecutive days may be considered to have abandoned their position voluntarily.
  10. Temporary Employee. Employed for a specific predetermined period of time to support business units in response to temporary demands of no longer than six (6) months.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

  1. Rice University seeks to provide employees with the reasonable resources needed to be successful in their jobs. Employees must demonstrate a commitment to their jobs through a satisfactory level of performance. In addition to performing the functions of the job, employees are also expected to demonstrate professional interactions with employees, students, faculty, vendors and other members of the Rice community.
  2. The supervisor should notify an employee whose job performance is inadequate, explaining the job requirements, specific deficiencies, expectations for improvement and accountability.
  3. Corrective action allows a supervisor to make their employee aware of a deficiency in their performance or behavior, when other informal actions have failed or the matter is significant. Supervisors should generally follow a sequence of progressive corrective actions, to include:
    1. Documented verbal warning
    2. Written warning
    3. Suspension without pay and/or a final warning
    4. Termination
  4. The corrective action process is generally not required to be followed in the following cases:
    1. during an employee’s probationary period,
    2. when an employee’s position is eliminated due to a reduction in force,
    3. job abandonment,
    4. for severe misconduct that warrants suspension or termination,
    5. temporary employment.
  5. Supervisors must consult with Human Resources on steps in the corrective action process including written warnings, investigations, performance improvement plans, suspensions, and terminations.

V. Cross References to Related Policies

Rice University Policy 401: Staff Expectations for Working at Rice

Rice University Policy 421: Probationary Period

Rice University Policy 424: Separation of Employment

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation

Responsible Official: Executive Vice President for Operations, Finance, & Support

Key Office: Human Resources

VII. Procedures and Forms


Policy History


November 17; 2020
May 1, 1993
January 1, 1993

Clerical Change

December 9, 2020 (corrected title of policy); January 10, 2018 (formatting and added responsible official)

September 30, 2022 (Updated responsible official); August 15, 2023 (updated title of responsible official); March 4, 2024 (updated title of responsible official)