Employee Relations

The Department's Employee Relations Program provides policy and oversight for a variety of non-union employment matters, including disciplinary and performance issues, administrative grievances, investigations of workplace misconduct allegations, prevention of workplace violence, and several other programs.

Employee Conduct Expectations

In addition to conduct expectations expressed in specific policies, all Department employees are subject to the Department of the Interior requirements expressed in Title 43, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20, Employee Responsibilities and Conduct.

Disciplinary and Adverse Actions

There are many steps that supervisors can take to prevent employee performance and conduct concerns, including:
  • Creating a culture that fosters respect and trust, 
  • Investing time into hiring the right people into the right positions, 
  • Communicating a clear vision for where the work unit is headed to motivate staff around a common goal, 
  • Identifying clear performance and conduct expectations for staff (if possible, with staff input) and empowering them to rise to the occasion, 
  • Showing concern and care for employees as people and as important contributors to the office, and
  • Opening the lines of communication and providing coaching throughout the year.
However, on occasion, supervisors are faced with employee performance or conduct issues that need to be addressed with specific tools in order to hold employees accountable and prevent such problems in the future.  The Departmental Manual chapters on Discipline and Adverse Actions and the Performance Management System outline the Departmental procedures that can be used to address conduct and performance concerns.  Employee Relations practitioners in each Servicing HR Office consult with supervisors who are planning to take such actions and are also available to answer employees' questions regarding their rights and the procedures used.


Managers must promptly investigate allegations of harassing conduct and ensure that the conduct does not continue. Please see the Harassing Conduct page for more information. 

Administrative Leave

The Department issued Personnel Bulletin 16-01: Modification to Administrative Leave Procedural Guidance in June 2016. Bureaus/Offices that are planning to place employees on administrative leave for more than 14 consecutive calendar days must submit a request to the Office of Human Resources for final approval by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital and Diversity/Chief Human Capital Officer.
Congress passed the Administrative Leave Act of 2016 in December 2016. While the relevant OPM regulations are pending, the Department is moving forward with using new FPPS/Quicktime pay codes to categorize various uses of administrative leave in line with the future requirements of this law. For details, please read the OHC Memorandum: Guidance on Using Administrative Leave Pay Codes issued to HR Directors in March 2017.
The Chief Human Capital Officer issued a Memorandum on Monitoring Administrative Leave Usage to Bureau/Office Human Capital Officers in June 2019, which requires them to review and report on their organizations’ usage of administrative leave on a quarterly basis, in order to ensure that the usage of leave is appropriate and limited to the extent possible. Quarterly reports on administrative leave that is longer than 14 consecutive calendar days must be submitted to doi_office_of_human_resources@ios.doi.gov one month after the end of the quarter.

Administrative Grievance Procedures

The DOI Administrative Grievance Procedures (AGP) provide a fair, efficient, and orderly process for the review and resolution of disputes on employment-related and workplace matters. The AGP encourages the use of conflict management tools and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve issues and concerns whenever practical. Covered employees may use the AGP without restraint, interference, coercion, discrimination, or reprisal.


Additional Policies

The Department also has policies in place that cover transgender and other gender non-conforming employees, drug-free and alcohol-free workplace requirements, voluntary employee organizations (non-union), professional liability insurance reimbursement, workplace violence prevention and a dress code.  Please see the links in the right-hand box.

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