3.1 Employment Requirements
3.2 Transfer Policy
3.3 Nepotism
3.4 Performance Appraisal
3.5 Initial Employment Period
3.6 Corrective Action
3.7 Dismissal
3.8 Resignation
3.9 Conflict of Interest Policy


3.1 Employment Requirements

Agents are recruited, screened and selected through the Extension Personnel Office.

A minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate subject area is required to obtain an agent’s position. Master’s degrees are preferred. Agents are chosen from applicants based on their training, skills and needs of the county. Maturity and leadership ability are required.

When a vacancy occurs the District Director will solicit input from the County Extension Council, program councils and local agents. The input will center around the program needs and the desired characteristics of the new agent. Legal considerations will be explained. County input will be utilized in the selection process.

Agent candidates will be interviewed and selected by a committee consisting of the appropriate District Director, Assistant Directors, Diversity Office representative, and the Extension Personnel Director. The Finalist will also interview with the Director of Extension.

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3.2 Transfer Policy

Agents interested in a transfer to another position will apply through the regular employment process. Agents must remain in their current assignment at least two years and be performing at an acceptable level before a transfer will be considered. Experience and training will also be considered as it relates to the needs of the position. Transfer candidates must compete with other applicants for vacant positions. Extension administration will make the final decision on requests for transfer.

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3.3 Nepotism

In cases where persons related by blood or marriage are both employed by Extension, neither can have supervisory or line authority over the other.

Under University policy, relative means a person's father, mother, brother, sister, husband wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and step-relatives in the same relationships.

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3.4 Performance Appraisal

Each Extension employee shall be evaluated annually for the first 5 years of employment. After 5 years, Agents’ will be evaluated on a 2-year basis, unless the agent or District Director requests a yearly evaluation.

Each employee should have at least two counseling sessions per fiscal year with the District Director. At these counseling sessions there will be frank and open discussion of the program.

An administrative review process is available to employees who wish to have their performance appraisal results reviewed.

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3.5 Initial Employment Period

New regular staff employee orientation is a period beginning the date of employment and continuing ninety (90) calendar days. During this orientation period, you and your supervisor mutually assess your job performance relative to your job requirements. During this period you may not use accrued vacation leave, but may use accrued temporary disability leave (sick leave.) At any time during this period, either party may terminate the employment relationship in accordance with the University’s separation from employment policy. (See HRP&P #8.0).

Periodic Progress Review sessions will be held with the new agent by the District Director at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. The purpose of these reviews is to determine the progress being made in each of 14 categories. An employee’s rating within a category may vary from period to period depending on expectations for the person at that point in time. At the end of each Progress Review period, the District Director will recommend appropriate actions be taken, which could include recommending training, programming changes, further counseling/coaching sessions, continuation of employment or corrective action.

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3.6 Corrective Action

Situations may occur which require appropriate corrective action which may lead to either improvement of an employee’s job performance and/or conduct or, if necessary, separation. The first notification of a specific problem may be oral. In the case where oral notice does not result in correction or identifiable progress toward correction, a supervisor may notify the employee in writing of failure to meet performance requirements of the job. This action may coincide with the employee being placed on probation (not to exceed 90 days).

Further disciplinary action such as probation and/or suspension in lieu of dismissal may occur based upon the severity of the infraction or violation, in accordance with the procedures within the Human Resources Policy and Procedure Administrative Regulations (See HRP&P #62.0).

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3.7 Dismissal

Employment at the University is “at will,” which means that employment may be terminated at any time by either the employee or the University, in accordance with the procedures within the Human Resources Policy and Procedure Administrative Regulations (See HRP&.P #12) Separation from University employment may either be voluntary by the employee or involuntary by the University through dismissal, lay off, or abolition of the position.

Employment in the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service may be terminated if an agent’s personal conduct or job performance is unsatisfactory.

  1. Misconduct reasons, for which no advance notice of dismissal need be given, are not limited to, but include the following:
    1. Insubordination, which includes, but is not limited to, unwillingness to perform assigned duties;
    2. Violation of University, or Extension rules;
    3. Falsification of the application for employment, time records, or other University or Extension records;
    4. Any act which serves to defame or malign the reputation of the University or Extension;
    5. Dishonesty on the job;
    6. Imperiling the safety of University or Extension employees or the public, or possession of a deadly weapon on University or Extension property or while on University business, other than by a staff employee authorized to possess a deadly weapon ( i.e., police, security, or military personnel);
    7. Gambling on University property or while the job;
    8. Negligent Destruction of University or Extension property;
    9. Drug and/or alcohol abuse, or the influence thereof, or the unauthorized use or consumption of while on the job; or while on University or Extension property
    10. Acts which constitute a violation of local, state, or federal law on University or Extension property or on the job;
    11. Incarceration in jail following a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony by a court of competent jurisdiction, which results in missing at least five consecutive working days;
    12. Incarceration in jail following a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony by a court of competent jurisdiction, which results in missing a least five (5) consecutive working days (see note below);        
    13. Job abandonment;
    14. Any action or creation or participation in a situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers mental or physical health or involves the forced consumption of liquor or drugs for the purpose of initiation into or affirmation with any organization;
    15. Fighting and/or physical assault physical violence or threat of physical violence or University or Extension property while on the job; and/or;
    16. Other misconduct on University or Extension property or on the job.
  2. Dismissal of a regular staff employee for reasons stated in this paragraph requires documented performances as outlined in HRP&P #62.0. Grounds for dismissal or other corrective action may include, but not be limited to, the following:
    1. Failure or neglect to perform assigned duties;
    2. Inappropriate or unsuitable job performances;
    3. Inability to perform assigned duties;
    4. Failure to act in a courteous or appropriate manner toward the public or University employees; or
    5. Excessive absences or tardiness;
    6. Failure to appropriately inform the unit/department head or supervisor of absences or expected tardiness.

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3.8 Resignation

To voluntarily leave “in good standing,” Extension professionals are to give the District Director a written notice at least 30 days before the last working day, an inventory of all equipment assigned to them, all keys to Extension facilities, all I.D’s, current reports, leader lists, calendar of programs, and list of upcoming responsibilities. An employee must leave “in good standing” to be eligible for future employment with the University.

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3.9 Conflict of Interest Policy

Under no circumstances should an Extension worker conduct commercial transactions of any kind which might embarrass him/herself or the Extension Service. In no case should an Extension worker place him/herself in a position to profit personally from his/her own recommendations, operate a farm or other business or activity which uses time that rightfully belongs to the job.

Areas of potential conflict of interest include:

  1. Favored treatment to some clientele.
  2. Unfair market competition.
  3. Time competition between employee’s job (normal working hours) and outside activity.
  4. Creation of employer liability.
  5. Misuse of public property for personal gain.
  6. Work in areas that conflict with the positive image Extension must maintain in the community to be effective.

All of the above reasons, in one way or another, may constitute a misuse of public funds. This presents a potential violation of public trust and can be grounds for dismissal.

Five key areas of potential conflict of interest and steps to follow to avoid violation are stated below.

1. Outside consulting for pay or benefit

For many years employees of institutions of higher education, because of their special knowledge, education, or research, have been involved in consulting to businesses, government, and others outside of their normal job assignment. In some instances they receive pay for these consulting services. Many institutions provide a certain number of days (paid or unpaid) per year for their employees to do such consulting. In all instances, Kentucky Extension employees are not permitted to make consultations within the state.

Steps that must be followed to consult outside the state:

  • Advance approval by the state Director or his/her designee is required.
  • Ensure that consulting is done by the employee as a private citizen and not as an Extension employee. This includes avoidance of use of official position in solicitations for commercial or group activities such as overseas tours, etc. The institution’s name, use of facilities and materials, etc. should not be used without prearranged approval.
  • Consulting shall be done on the employee’s own time (i.e., approved consulting time, vacation or other approved leave time).

2. Ownership or operation of a farm or other outside business

Occasionally employees may own or operate a business when entering Extension employment, or they may acquire it after being employed. This may or may not be a potential conflict of interest with the employee’s Extension job.

Steps that must be followed:

  • Determine the time commitments to manage, operate, or be involved in such business. If appreciable time is required away from the Extension job, suitable arrangements need to be made (i.e., time agreements, business divestiture, or employee termination).
  • The approval of the state Director or his/her designee for all businesses which appear to conflict with the employee’s Extension job is required.
  • Time spent on such business shall be done on the employee’s own personal time (i.e., vacation or other approved leave).
  • The type of business shall not unfairly compete with similar private businesses. The employee shall not have an unfair advantage over private business because of special Extension job-related knowledge he/she may have about the private business’ operation.

 

3. Buying, selling and/or trading real estate, livestock or crops, or other commodity transactions

As a side interest, employees may become involved in trading agricultural or other commodities or futures contracts that are closely interrelated to their Extension jobs. Personal investments (stocks and bonds, etc.) would not normally fall into this category, unless they required too much time away from work.

Steps that must be followed:

  • Determine if the job assignment closely involves the commodity in question. If so, does the employee’s involvement present unfair competition to others trading such commodities?
  • If this activity appears to conflict with time demands of the job, the approval of the state Director or his/her designee will be required.

4. Holding elected or appointed public office

The Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service does not allow its employees to hold public office.

5. Expert testimony in litigation or pending litigation

Due to the areas of expertise and nature of the work of County Extension Agents, they are frequently requested by courts of law to provide expert testimony to assist in resolving claims of dispute. The response of the agents will depend on whether they have been asked to be an unpaid expert witness or a fact witness.

The following steps outline initial response procedure for an agent regardless of whether the agent has been requested to be an unpaid expert witness or a fact witness.

  • An agent contacted or subpoenaed by anyone involved in pending litigation or litigation, should advise the individual that he/she will have someone contact him/her. The agent should then contact their District Director and Jim Lawson. If Jim Lawson is not available, contact Katherine Adams of the University’s Legal Office.
  • A valid, duly served subpoena shall be required prior to giving expert testimony.
  • A copy of a subpoena or request for records received should be immediately faxed to Jim Lawson and to the University Legal Office.
  • Make every effort to avoid the appearance of any favoritism in litigation.
  • Refer to the memorandum dated July 23, 2014, subject - "Fact Witnesses and Expert Witnesses" for further clarification of current policy.

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