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Suspended With Pay - A Call to Get the Investigation Done Quickly, Unless You Work for the Government....

Ed Rooney knew how to get an investigation done in a single day...

OK, my HR tribe...  If you work in a high volume employee relations business (think call center, manufacturing, etc.), you've probably run into situations where you have a complicated situation, but it's highly probable, based on your instincts and experience, that someone's probably going to be fired.  In fact, in these situations, many times you've got a credible eye witness that the individual has done something they can't recover from - like dropping his pants or sending a death threat via email to a manager.

But, you're still the strong HR pro, right?  That means you have to investigate it, which is going to take timeEd rooney that the mob (read: employees and managers that are observing your process) won't tolerate.

In those situations, you turn to a tool that you use sparingly, but it's nice to know it's there - SUSPENDED WITH PAY.  That tool allows you to send someone home while you work your investigation, and no one, including the person you're sending home, can talk too much smack because the person is getting paid. 

However, if you've ever suspended someone with pay, you know that you're under immediate pressure to get your investigation done quickly and either term the person or get them back to work.  You can't delay, you have to get it done quickly.

Unless you're the government or have a union represented in your operation,  Then it can drag on forever, because no one seems to care about the waste.  More from the AP:

"Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that's what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its "rubber rooms" — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

"You just basically sit there for eight hours," said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. "I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.' `I've been sitting here for six months.' That sort of thing."

Ramos was an assistant principal in East Harlem when he was accused of lying at a hearing on whether to suspend a student. Ramos denied the allegation but quit before his case was resolved and took a job in California.

Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.

"It is extremely difficult to fire a tenured teacher because of the protections afforded to them in their contract," spokeswoman Ann Forte said.

City officials said that they make teachers report to a rubber room instead of sending they home because the union contract requires that they be allowed to continue in their jobs in some fashion while their cases are being heard. The contract does not permit them to be given other work.

Ron Davis, a spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers, said the union and the Department of Education reached an agreement last year to try to reduce the amount of time educators spend in reassignment centers, but progress has been slow.

"No one wants teachers who don't belong in the classroom. However, we cannot neglect the teachers' rights to due process," Davis said. The union represents more than 228,000 employees, including nearly 90,000 teachers."

Here's an idea.  Get due process done in a week - that's the drop dead standard in the real world from my experience.  Anything more than that, and people think the whole thing's a joke...

Hat tip to Ron Ulrici from Rand Associates....



There was a great story on This American Life about the Rubber Room, which stemmed from a documentary. It's truly breathtaking (not in a good way) how the city has chosen to handle disciplinary issues and investigations. The city blames it on the teachers union, but the department is woefully understaffed. Neither side have a clear incentive to move any faster. Hopefully the continued bad press on the waste of taxpayer dollars will force them to actually do something.

Dan Johnson

Even a week is pushing it...
Our union is pretty nice we suspend them without pay pending investigation and only pay them if they are vindicated...barely ever happens.

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