What do You Do If a Member of Staff is Incompetent?

Dismissal for Poor Performance

We all make mistakes.

But what do you do with an employee who consistently fails to do their job well enough?

As an employer, you will need to tread carefully before dismissing an employee for poor performance. Otherwise, you could end up in an Employment Tribunal.

Here are four steps you will need to take before you can fairly dismiss an employee on the grounds of poor performance.

1. You must be sure that the employee is incompetent.

Sometimes, this may be easy to prove. For example, if there has been a clear downturn in productivity or sales as a result of the employee’s work.

However, more often, incompetence is simply a matter of impression rather than hard evidence. To avoid an unfair dismissal, you must gather evidence such as:-

  • Statements from people who are in daily contact with the employee;
  • A comparison of their daily output figures compared with those of other employees;
  • Any complaints received from customers.

2. You must give the employee the opportunity to improve.

The employee may think that they are doing the job properly. It’s never pleasant to tell someone that they are not up to scratch and many employers are reluctant to do so.

You should explain to the employee what they are doing wrong. You should follow this up with a written warning which should include the following points:-

  • Details of the faults complained of;
  • A warning that you consider the problem to be serious enough to justify dismissal;
  • A minimum time period during which the employee has the chance to improve before you review the performance (this should be at least 4 weeks);
  • An invitation to discuss the matter further.

You should follow the ACAS Code of Conduct on Disciplinary Procedures before issuing a written warning.

3. At the end of the review period, you must have formed the view that the employee is unlikely to improve.

After the monitoring period has expired, you should assess the employee’s performance further. If they are now achieving the goals, the problem is solved.

If they are close to achieving the goals, then you should extend the monitoring period. It would probably not be fair to dismiss if the employee is very close to the goals.

If there is no improvement, you should arrange a meeting to consider whether dismissal would be appropriate. Again, you should follow theACAS Code of Practice.

4. You must be sure that it is not reasonable to offer the employee another job.

In order for the dismissal to be fair, you should consider whether it is possible to redeploy the employee in a position where they will be able to cope.

It may be worth asking the employee whether they are aware of any areas where they would particularly like to work.

In most small or medium sized companies, there is unlikely to be suitable alternative employment. You should however, at least consider this as an option.

If you have followed the above steps, it is likely that it would be fair for you to dismiss the employee.

And finally

If you need legal advice on disciplining your staff or any other employment matter, please feel free to call me or complete the form below.