Each employee in your business should have a job description that sets out the tasks and duties they are expected and required to perform. It also sets out areas of responsibility that the employee may have. In addition to the list of tasks and duties expected of the employee, it is a good idea to set out the required standards for each task/duty. Regular appraisals should then be carried out to assess the employee’s performance as against the job description. Appraisal schemes should not become an administrative annual task, but a proactive business tool to ensure employees are working toward role objectives.
It is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee for poor work performance due to lack of capability, provided a proper procedure is followed which is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. In these situations, the law has already defined what ‘fair’ is.
The first task of the employer will be to establish why the employee is not performing properly. You will need understand whether or not the employee:
- Has been trained properly so they know how to do the job.
- Is being supervised properly.
- Has the proper equipment, sufficient support staff and other facilities.
- Is aware of what you require of them.
A fair procedure will depend on the facts of each individual case but should include the
- An opportunity to allow for improvement in performance over a period of time.
- Training – this could include paying for the employee to go on external training courses or one-to-one internal on the job training provided by another employee.
- Warnings within the procedure that failure to reach the required standards within the time period specified could lead to a dismissal.
- Prior to taking a dismissal decision, giving consideration to offering alternative employment
The extent to which an employer needs to invest in training and/or monitoring the employee depends on the factors such as size of employer, type of job and employee’s length of service.
Performance or Misconduct
Note that it may not always be clear whether poor work performance is due to misconduct (or even potential gross misconduct) or whether it is due to a genuine lack of capability on behalf of the employee. Where it appears that poor work performance is a conduct issue (for example, caused by the negative attitude or laziness of the employee), the disciplinary procedure should be followed, not a performance review/capability procedure (call us on 0845 463 3231 for advice on disciplinary hearings, appeals and fair procedure). The performance review procedure is intended solely for cases where poor performance is caused by a genuine lack of capability i.e. the employee is keen and willing but is simply incapable of fulfilling the tasks and duties expected of them.
Probation / Short Service Employee
As a general rule of thumb, it is unlikely that capability issues should arise with employees who have been working in the same role for some time. This is because lack of capability is something which an employer should be able to easily identify when the employee first commences employment and it is an issue which should therefore be tackled at an early stage in the employment relationship. Use your Induction and Probation processes to assess all new starters when they join your Company – read more below. If you need advice about a reasonable and fair process, ring us on 0845 463 3231.
Thus, it is recommended you go through at least the follow four steps:
1. Establish the facts
2. Inform the employee of the problem in writing
3. Hold a formal meeting with the employee to discuss the problem and allow them their rights at the meeting
4. Decide on appropriate action
The performance review meeting
Manager’s should plan for a performance review meeting, ensuring you are clear about all the points you wish to raise, that you explain matters properly and unambiguously, and allow the employee time to speak. As the manager it is your responsibility to keep the meeting under control, professional and calm.
Minutes of the meeting should always be taken.
Reviewing the employee’s performance
Reviews should then be carried out at least on a monthly basis to assess whether the employee’s performance is improving satisfactorily on an ongoing basis. It may be beneficial, and we often recommend you carry out assessments on a more frequent basis, e.g. weekly, or after completing a piece of work, and then report back to the employee accordingly. If the employee fails to reach the required standard at the end of the set period of review outlined in the performance warning, then you should proceed to the next stage in the formal process.
Prior to taking any decision to dismiss the employee, you should consider offering alternative employmentwhich is available and which is within their capabilities. Don’t confuse a ‘suitable alternative’ here with a ‘suitable alternative’ in redundancy situations. They are different. Watch out for claims for breach of contract or, alternatively, constructive dismissal if they then resigned as a result of your actions.
When a new employee is taken on always give them an up to date, accurate job description with the required standards expected for each task or duty. Their performance should then be assessed on a regular basis (weekly/monthly) during any probationary period. Minutes/notes should be taken of these assessments as they may form part of decision-making for dismissal. Short-service dismissal is not managed the same as longer service dismissal - call us for advice on 0845 463 3231.
How we can help
Spirit HR has a wealth of experience in working with a range of business types supporting management of poorly performing employees – whether they are a few weeks into employment, or many years. We ensure our advice take account of each individual situation and is in line with current legislation. Poorly performing employees cost businesses year after year and often stop employers brining in new, more efficient process.Call us on 0845 463 3231 (or send us an email and we’ll ring you back) to discuss how we can help youmanage the employees you have performance issues with. We always recommend employers take up to date advice before making employment related business decisions.