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Poor performance and dismissal

Dealing with poor conduct and performance, dismissal and redundancy.

While most departures are voluntary, in some instances employees may need to be dismissed. The reasons may include:

Capability

Capability falls into two categories.

  • Work related performance issues. This relates to skill and aptitude when an employee is demonstrating an inability to achieve, and consistently maintain, the required standards set by the company for the position for which they are employed. Read more about improving performance.
  • Health related performance issues. This is where the employee is unable to perform to the required standard due to ill health. Read more on health and safety at work.

Further information on dismissal on these grounds is available at the dismissing staff information on GOV.UK 

Conduct or performance

When an employee is not meeting the required standard for the job, a line manager may need to closely manage their performance. The difference between capability and performance management is that the latter aims to improve performance,whereas with capability the employee has demonstrated that they are not for whatever reason capable of performing to the required standard. 

Dealing with capability and conduct

To manage both capability and low performance you should have a set disciplinary procedure which should incorporate the following principles. Read an example of a disciplinary procedure for small organisations, or go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

  • Employees are given the right to have concerns explained to them and an opportunity to address those concerns.
  • Concerns are thoroughly investigated.
  • If appropriate the employee is to be given a chance to improve, with clear objectives and guidelines for improvement.
  • No disciplinary action will be taken without the employee knowing the case against them and having an opportunity to give their version of events at a disciplinary hearing.
  • Employees have the right to be accompanied by a fellow employee or trade union official at the disciplinary hearing.
  • Employees have a right to a fair and impartial appeal against any disciplinary action and  have a right to be accompanied at the appeal hearing.

The aim is to achieve an improvement in performance or conduct, and to avoid the necessity for further action (for example the termination of their contract). Find out more about disciplinary procedures at GOV UK.

Redundancy

Redundancy is a reasonable reason for dismissal. However, the cause of the redundancy must fall within the legal definition. The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has a helpful definition of redundancy. The organisation must also be able to demonstrate that it has acted reasonably.

For redundancy to be a genuine reason for dismissal, the organisation:

  • must need to reduce its workforce
  • be closing down a work place or location
  • employ (or expect to employ) fewer staff to undertake work of a particular kind.

This applies to circumstances where the employer has ceased, or intends, to cease:

  • carrying on business for the purposes for which the employee was employed
  • carrying on business in the place where the employee was employed.

See section 139 Employment Rights Act 1996.

Avoiding redundancies

Steps should be taken to avoid redundancies. You should consider if there are other ways of achieving the objective and whether some or all of the following are appropriate.

  • A reduction in hours where jobs would accommodate part-time working
  • Sabbaticals, term time contracts, and unpaid holiday.
  • Individual requests for voluntary redundancy - the company may still reserve the right to accept or reject these requests.
  • Individual requests for early retirement.
  • Minimise the recruitment of temporary employees or short-term contractors.
  • Reduction in overtime.

Read more information on redundancy at GOV.UK.

Managing change

One of the biggest considerations when dismissing a member of staff is managing the emotions and reactions of people. Our managing change section has more on this.

Page last edited Apr 01, 2016
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