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Depending on your position and on the policies of your department, as a supervisor, you may have the opportunity to select or promote employees to work for you. Determining who gets the job can be a difficult decision and it is certainly one of the most critical decisions you can make as a supervisor.
As you probably know, selection into most positions in the City is governed by a civil service process that is detailed in the Civil Service Rules. An overview of the process and necessary forms can be found in the Supervisor's Guide to Department Employee Selection. Employees exempt from civil service, or at-will employees, may also work for the City, but there are fewer rules and regulations for entry into and exit from the City. If you have a role in the selection process whether or not the employee is Civil Service, it will most likely occur during the interview.
If a candidate or an employee has a disability that needs an accommodation, you will need to understand your responsibilities for accommodating disabilities. Once the employee is hired, you will want to provide them with an orientation. Also, the new employee will be required to serve a probation period, and it is critical that you understand how to best use that period to evaluate your new hire.
Once an eligible list has been established, your department may select a name from among the top candidates. The department may use any number of means to decide who to select, but the most common tool is a Certification Interview. As a supervisor, your role would typically be as a member of the interview panel, though you may also be asked to write interview questions and develop evaluation criteria.
Federal and State law prohibit discrimination based on disability. The laws further require that if an employee is unable to perform the essential functions of their job due to a disability, the employer is required to offer a reasonable accommodation when one is possible. The reasonable accommodation process is a complex one, and supervisors are encouraged to work with their department’s human resources section whenever an accommodation issue arises.
While your human resources section will likely handle the bulk of the reasonable accommodation responsibilities, it is important to note that as a supervisor, you will often be the first to observe issues among your employees that may prompt the need to look further. Specifically, if one of your employees has work performance issues that you believe are a result of a medical issue, you are in a position to begin the dialogue about whether an accommodation is needed. At this point, it would be beneficial to get the assistance of your human resources section.
Supervisors are also encouraged to take the online course on Reasonable Accommodations.
After selecting an employee to work for you, with a little planning and preparation, you can help ensure that employee gets off to a good start. An orientation for a new employee can be quite involved, as it includes an introduction to the Civil Service system, City policies, procedures, and benefits. An employee orientation checklist can be found here.
Some departments provide a formal employee orientation, but whether or not your department does, as a supervisor, you are advised to prepare for the arrival of your new employee. Please be sure the employee has the tools, equipment and workspace necessary to begin the job on day one. Doing so will help ensure that new employees can start contributing right away and that they feel welcome and comfortable in their new role.
Also, please note that an onboarding system and process is planned for the near future.
Civil Service employees hired into the City or promoted to a new classification are required to serve a probationary period. For most City positions, probation is no longer than 12 months. For sworn police officer positions, it lasts no more than 18 months. The specific language regarding probation is in Section 1011 of the City Charter.
It is critical for supervisors to understand that the probationary period is a working test period during which employees are required to demonstrate their fitness by the actual performance of the duties of their position. During this time, employees may be terminated without right of appeal to the Board of Civil Service Commissioners. Supervisors should carefully document their employees’ performance and provide feedback. If you discover the employee is not performing up to your standards, you should seriously consider recommending them for termination. It is important that you don’t wait until the six month point to begin this process.
When it comes to the medical issues of our employees, supervisors are often skittish. They may be afraid to ask the employee a medical question for fear they are violating the employee’s privacy. Even if they want to ask, they may not know how to talk to the employee about this sensitive issue. But rather than respond to the confusion by avoiding the situation altogether, it is best that the supervisor pay attention and work with their Human Resources section to find the best solution. The Personnel Department’s Medical Services Division (MSD) is a great resource that provides a number of services to address employees’ medical issues. MSD can help you to identify whether employees are medically and psychologically capable of doing their jobs. Procedures concerning Work Fitness Evaluations and information on employees Returning to Work after a medical leave are provided. MSD can also help if there are questions about the authenticity of a doctor’s note. Call your Human Resources section to get MSD involved if a doctor’s note needs to be validated or if you think an employee may need work restrictions due to a medical condition.
Supervisors also have questions about light duty and how to accommodate the needs of employees who have medical or psychological restrictions. The Personnel Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Division provides a number of services to address employees’ accommodation issues. Detailed information on the employer’s responsibility with respect to Reasonable Accommodations for disabilities as well as Lactation Accommodations can be found on-line.
Employees who have been off on a medical leave may need to be evaluated by City medical staff to determine whether they can safely return to work. This evaluation is not always required. The return to work guidelines explain when an evaluation is needed and how the process works. The bottom line is that employees need to be seen by a City doctor for a return to work evaluation when there is objective and reasonable information that leads you to question whether they can safely perform their duties because of the medical condition for which they were off work. During a return to work evaluation, City doctors will only focus on the employee’s recovery from the condition for which they were off work. Your role as supervisor is to be in contact with your employees while they are off sick. Ask your Human Resources section if an employee needs to go through Medical Services Division for a return to work evaluation. If an examination is needed, your Human Resources section will make an appointment for the employee at Medical Services Division. Then, you should remind the employee to bring a return to work note from their doctor. Importantly, as the supervisor, you should NOT ask employees questions about their private medical information.
A Work Fitness Evaluation is an assessment to help determine whether an employee needs work restrictions because a medical or psychological condition is interfering with the employee’s ability to perform their job. The work fitness evaluation policy and procedures are found here. The bottom line is that employees need to be seen by a City doctor for a work fitness evaluation when there is objective and reasonable information that leads you to question whether they can safely perform their duties because of a medical or psychological condition. The Work Fitness Evaluation referral process is a complicated one, and you should always contact your Human Resources section to assist you. If you have questions about an employee’s fitness for duty, you must talk to the employee about the work performance issues you have observed. Tell the employee what you have observed and ask if there is anything that is preventing him or her from performing the job duties. If the employee notes that a medical condition hampers job performance, or if it is obvious that a person has a medical condition, it is appropriate to ask if they need an accommodation. In some situations, a work fitness evaluation might be appropriate. Talk to your Human Resources section to determine what is the best course of action. Importantly, as the supervisor, you should NOT ask employees questions about their private medical information.
The reasonable accommodations process is a complex one with specific laws dictating what the employer must do. Concepts like interactive dialogue, undue hardship and essential functions must be understood and followed to avoid liability. When you have a request for accommodation, or if you believe that your employee is in need of an accommodation, you should contact your Human Resources section.
Did you know that you are required to provide lactation accommodations to your employees who request it? All City departments must provide a reasonable amount of break time and make reasonable efforts to provide the use of appropriate space for employees who desire to express milk for their infant child during work hours. Further information is provided at Personnel's Lactation Accommodations page.
The City of Los Angeles supports its employees through a comprehensive benefits package. The Personnel Department’s Employee Benefits Division is responsible for administering some but not all of the benefit programs provided to City employees. Eligibility to participate varies by program. A summary of programs administered by the Employee Benefits Division follows:visit benefits page
According to the Los Angeles Administrative Code and various Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), City employees are entitled to the following types of leave and compensated time off: Family and Medical Leave, Military Family/Caregiver Leave, bereavement leave, and jury service. As a supervisor, you will need to be aware of the time off that employees are permitted to take, and at the same time, be mindful that employees are not abusing these entitlements. More information on sick leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Military Family/Caregiver Leave, bereavement leave, and jury service is provided below.
Sick leave benefits are intended to provide compensation to employees who are required to be absent from work due to an injury or illness. The Administrative Code and the appropriate MOU govern the sick leave benefits for City employees. Following their first six months of continuous service, employees accrue 8 hours of sick time per month, or 96 hours per year. Employees can accumulate up to 800 hours of sick time. After that, they are paid for their surplus hours at 50% of their hourly rate per year.
The City has a program to help minimize the excessive use of sick time. Each department has a specific number of hours and incidents that if exceeded would require the employee’s time to be reviewed by the supervisor. When notified of an employee’s excessive sick time, supervisors need to determine whether the absence was for legitimate purposes. If the supervisor knows that the employee was out of work for medical reasons, no further action is required. However, if use of the sick time is suspect, the supervisor may take any or all of the following steps: (1) discuss the excessive absence with the employee, trying to understand the reason for the absence, while at the same time, emphasizing the importance of the employee’s attendance, (2) require that the employee bring in a doctor’s note, and (3) counsel the employee or impose further discipline, if necessary. The Supervisor’s Guide to Sick Leave Use Improvement is available here. Supervisors should not grant emergency vacation to employees who are on the Sick Leave Improvement Program
The City of Los Angeles’ Family and Medical Leave provision includes the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (as amended), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) provision of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The City’s Family and Medical Leave provision allows up to 720 hours (9 pay periods) of paid or unpaid leave during a 12-month period for family and medical purposes. The provision ensures that the employee’s benefits are maintained while on leave and guarantees restoration to the same or equivalent position when the employee returns from the leave.
In order to be eligible to utilize the Family and Medical Leave benefit, the employee must meet the following conditions: 1) has been employed by the City for at least 12 months; 2) has worked the qualified minimum number of hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the beginning of the leave; 3) the conditions of the leave are covered by at least one of the situations listed below:
As a supervisor, you will not have to determine whether your employee is qualified for this provision. However, if your employee is out ill or taking care of a family member for three or more days or if the employee is taking frequent days off due to illness, doctor appointments, or care of a family member you should promptly notify your department’s Family Medical Leave Coordinator. In addition, you should refer the employee to the Family Medical Leave Coordinator and have a dialogue with the employee to explain the Family Medical provision when they return to work.
When an employee receives a “Summons to Appear for Jury Service,” the employee should present the notice to the immediate supervisor. Oftentimes, when the courts are seeking jurors, City employees are in high demand because unlike employees from many other organizations, City employees are compensated for the entire duration of the trial. However, while there is no limit to the length of time an employee may serve on a jury, in some circumstances, a supervisor may request that an employee postpone his or her service as a result of a critical department need.
At the close of each period of jury service, an employee should request a “Certification of Jury Service” form from the Court Clerk. Employees are required to return to the City the portion of jury compensation they receive that is not related to mileage.
Bereavement leave policies for represented employees are found in the corresponding MOUs. Rules for those who are not represented are in the Los Angeles Administrative Code, Section 4.127.1. Employees may receive up to three days of leave for each occurrence of a death in the employee’s immediate family upon submission of satisfactory proof of documentation.
Typically, “immediate family” shall include the father, father-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, brother, sister, spouse, child, grandparents, grandchildren, step-parents, step-children, foster parents, foster children, a domestic partner, any relative who resided in the employee’s household, a household member (any person residing in the immediate household of the employee at the time of death), and the following relatives of an employee’s domestic partner: child, grandchild, mother, father. However, employees should check their respective Memorandum of Understanding for the definition of an immediate family member to ensure their leave would qualify under the MOU provision.
A department must grant military leave to an employee who enlists or is drafted into the military, whether or not the employee has passed probation.
The Military and Veterans Code of the State of California provides that employees of any governmental agency who are called to active service with the United States Armed Forces and who have served one year continuously (as defined in Administrative Code, Div. 4, Section 4.42[t]) with the agency (whether emergency, regular, half-time, or full-time) or who have one year combined military and City service are entitled to a leave of absence with pay not to exceed 30 calendar days in any one fiscal year when ordered to active service. The 30 days of pay must be used for either temporary or extended active service, or a combination of both, but may not exceed a total of 30 calendar days for both in any fiscal year. Attendance at reserve drills is not active service. Before receiving pay, the employee must present to the appointing authority two copies of certified evidence (military orders) of entry into active services of the United States Armed Forces.
One of the critical - and satisfying - responsibilities of supervision is to develop your employees. Some of the ways in which you do so are through conducting performance evaluations, encouraging employee engagement, and coaching and mentoring.
Performance appraisal is the formal method by which supervisors let their employees know how well their performance meets expected standards. Rather than being a one-time, or annual event, evaluation of performance should be a continuous process involving communication of goals and the observation and evaluation of progress toward those goals.
Section 9 of the Personnel Procedures Manual contains more details on the City’s performance evaluation process. Note that this does not apply to Department of Water and Power employees.
The City has two standard performance evaluation forms, one for employees (PDAS 28E) and one for supervisors (PDAS 28S).
When an employee is engaged, he or she is enthusiastically and proudly involved in his or her organization and day-to-day job responsibilities, and that engagement keeps them committed to their work.
Engagement is important because engaged employees are more likely to stay in their current job, more likely to feel they can make a difference and more likely to report being very satisfied in their jobs.
What can supervisors do?
Coaching and mentoring your employees requires a continuous effort to make it a part of your supervisory practices. Use the tips in the following list to help incorporate coaching and mentoring techniques into your daily routine:
One of the best ways to develop your employees is to provide them with training opportunities. The City has a number of online courses and resources available to employees through the Citywide Training Portal.
It is also important to keep your employees informed of promotional opportunities. There are a number of resources available to employees to help them learn about opportunities for job growth. Invite your employees to review the career ladders site to see what their options are. For information about job opportunities be sure to check here regularly. Your employees can also learn more about specific jobs by looking at the City’s job class specifications here.
Another way for supervisors to help develop their employees is by rotating them on a regular basis to different work assignments. Exposing employees to new assignments provides them insights on how the organization works, while at the same time, developing their skills and abilities to make them more competitive when advancement opportunities arise. These rotations, and the cross training that results, have the added benefit of providing flexibility to supervisors who will have more options to fill staffing holes when gaps arise.
Worker’s compensation is a state-mandated program based on the California Labor Code which entitles all California employees to medical treatment and financial compensation for work-related injuries. The City’s Personnel Department runs the workers’ compensation program for a majority of City employees (except DWP), and nearly all City departments have procedures which must be followed when a workplace injury occurs.
All full or part-time employees including probationary employees are covered. Also included are employees hired for short periods of time from hiring halls, volunteers, workfare (general relief) workers, Community Service Workers, and special program workers. In short, all City workers with the exception of private contractors and their employees are covered.
As a supervisor, you are responsible for helping to maintain a work area that is safe so that injuries are prevented. Should an injury occur, you will be required to complete forms and have the injured employee complete forms as well. This Quick Reference Guide offers a detailed description of the workers compensation process. For more information, you can review The Supervisor’s Guide to Worker’s Compensation.
If one of your employees is injured on the job, the Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Illness (Form 5020).
The employee will need to furnish a completed Injury Status Report completed by their physician when they are being treated. This form requires the medical professional to provide work restrictions.
Employees may complete a Pre-designated Physician Form before their injury if they prefer to be treated by their personal physician rather than a physician selected by the City.
If the injured employee prefers to be treated by their personal chiropractor or acupuncturist, they are required to complete the Notice of Personal Chiropractor or Personal Acupuncturist.
The City of Los Angeles is committed to the fair and equal treatment of all its employees. Any policy or action affecting recruitment, selection, promotion, assignment, training, compensation, discipline, or termination must be carried out without regard to:
City policy requires that supervisors not personally engage in any discriminatory activities. Additionally, should you become aware of discriminatory behavior by others in the workplace and fail to take action to eliminate that activity, you may be subject to discipline and personal legal liability for your failure to act. In short, one of your key responsibilities is to assure that the work environment over which you have responsibility is free of all forms of discrimination.
For more information on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and preventing employment discrimination, and department coordinators here.
The City’s EEO policy was put forth by the Mayor in Executive Directive PE-1. The directive emphasizes the City’s zero tolerance policy for discrimination and identifies roles that certain departments are required to take to address discriminatory behavior.
Employees who believe they have been discriminated against are encouraged to file a complaint. In the City, there are ways to file complaints internally and externally. An overview of complaint filing procedure processes is provided here. Also, be aware that if one of your employees files a complaint, whether the complaint is valid or not, you should take care not to engage in any type of behavior toward that employee that can be construed as retaliatory.
Sex-based harassment includes sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser. The following is a partial list of violations:
City policy and state and federal law require that supervisors not engage in sexual harassment. Additionally, should you become aware of sexual harassment behavior by others in the workplace and fail to take action to eliminate that activity, you may be subject to discipline and personal legal liability for your failure to act.
Should an employee chose to file a sexual harassment complaint, they should be referred to the Complain Procedure.
In accordance with Senate Bill 1343 (SB-1343), the City is now required to provide at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees, and at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees, including exempt, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers, within six months of assuming a position, and once every two years thereafter. Courses can be found on the Citywide training portal.
City policy requires that all employees are in a condition of fitness to perform their duties. This requires that an employee’s work performance not be adversely affected by alcohol or drugs while performing City business. The City’s Medical Services Division has a Reasonable Suspicion Alcohol and Drug Testing Program where employees suspected of being under the influence are tested for drug and alcohol use. The goal of the program is to provide safe working conditions for all employees and members of the public with whom City employees interact.
Supervisors play a significant role in ensuring that employees under the influence are referred to Medical Services for testing.
The following observations may be indicative of impairment possibly resulting from alcohol or drug use:
When the above behaviors are observed and you believe the employee may be impaired, you should:
The City is committed to ensuring the safety and security of its employees, customers, and visitors. To that end, the City has adopted the Citywide Threat Assessment Team (CTAT) consisting of representatives from various departments. The CTAT also includes the City’s vendor/consultant who provides support and training on workplace violence issues. The CTAT is available to City departments to assist in handling situations involving potential or actual violence in the workplace.
Each City department also has a Workplace Violence Coordinator. It is your role as supervisor to bring potential workplace violence concerns to the attention of your Department's Human Resources section and management. If you believe that the CTAT should be alerted, report your concerns to your HR representative or your department’s Workplace Violence Coordinator. They will contact the appropriate member(s) of the CTAT, including the City’s workplace violence prevention vendor/consultants.
If you believe there is a need in your department for workplace violence training or non-urgent consultation, contact your HR representative. HR will contact the Personnel Department where the workplace violence contract is managed.
The need to discipline an employee is an unpleasant but necessary task a supervisor must sometimes perform. Discipline is designed to correct employee behavior, address deficiencies and improve performance. As used in the City, discipline covers actions ranging from counseling to discharge. Prior to engaging in disciplinary actions, you should attempt to modify an employee’s behavior using other, less formal means such as discussion and coaching. When these less formal attempts at changing behavior and improving performance fail, discipline should be initiated.
In the City of Los Angeles, discipline is intended to be progressive in nature. This means that only the degree of discipline needed to correct behavior should be imposed. Should unacceptable behavior continue after a corrective action as been taken, then more severe discipline is appropriate. Obviously, some behaviors are so egregious and unacceptable that severe discipline, including discharge, is appropriate for a first offense. Each discipline case should be considered on its own merits.
A grievance is any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of a written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), department rule or regulation, or management policy or directive regarding terms and conditions of employment. When an administrative remedy is available in the City Charter such as appeals of suspensions or discharges, a grievance is inappropriate.
As a supervisor, you need to be concerned with two distinct issues. The first is grievance prevention. The second is becoming familiar with and adhering to the strict time limits governing the various steps of the grievance process.
Upon receipt of a grievance, it is advisable for a supervisor to contact their personnel section for guidance.
A grievance should include what outcome is desired as a result of filing a grievance.
The following suggestions should assist in lessening the likelihood of a grievance from being filed:
Despite efforts at grievance prevention, circumstances will arise when a grievance will be filed. When this happens, you are advised to contact your personnel section for assistance. Upon receipt, and after consulting with personnel, you should make a concerted effort to resolve the grievance at the informal discussion step before it proceeds further. You also need to be aware of your responsibilities regarding the grievance procedure and deadlines, as stated in the employee’s MOU. You should note that the majority of grievances are resolved at the first, informal level. Remember, you are a management representative and should be an advocate for management’s position.
Grievances should be settled based on MOU interpretation by the department’s management representative in consultation with the Personnel Section, department work rules, or prior decisions in previous, similar grievances.