When an employee is involved in an incident of misconduct his/her supervisor should complete an investigation. Upon completing the investigation and reviewing the facts surrounding the incident the supervisor may decide to take an informal or formal disciplinary action.
Informal/Formal Disciplinary Actions
Informal actions are oral and written measures management uses to communicate the rules and expectations to employees to correct their behavior, and to put them on notice of the possible consequences (progressive discipline) if they commit another offense in the future. For less severe misconduct committed by an employee, an informal disciplinary action such as an oral admonishment or written counseling is typically an appropriate action. Formal actions may be taken for more egregious misconduct committed by an employee. In ascending order of severity, formal actions are letters of reprimand, suspensions, change to lower grade and/or pay, and removals.
The decision to take an informal verses formal action depends on whether the employee is aware the behavior in question is wrong. If the employee's behavior is inherently wrong (e.g., striking a supervisor or coworker), formal action is usually the most appropriate action to take. Incidents in which the employee's behavior is not obviously or inherently wrong (e.g., taking a break in excess of 15 minutes), informal action is often more appropriate to take for a first step to correct minor problems.
If the supervisor decides to pursue a formal disciplinary action it is important to know whether the employee is serving a probationary or trial period and what type of appointment the employee is serving. This information is important in determining procedural requirements and applicable appeal rights. Supervisors should contact their servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) for assistance before initiating or taking an informal or formal disciplinary action.