Poor work performance
Poor work performance is an ever increasing challenge in the workplace. Poor work performance refers to an employee failing to reach and maintain the employer’s work performance standards in terms of quality and quantity. The Labour Relations Act, Act 66 of 1995 (“LRA”) sets clear guidelines of how employers should deal with poor work performance in Schedule 8, Code of Good Practice: Dismissal. There is clear differentiation between dismissal for misconduct and dismissal for incapacity. Poor work performance falls under incapacity, which can be due to ill health or poor work performance. It is vital that in cases of poor work performance the employer should follow the correct procedure in handling this matter.
All employment contracts imply that the employee undertakes to perform according to the reasonable, lawful and attainable work performance standards set by the employer. Should the employee fail in this duty, despite assistance to reach the required standards, he/she is said to be “incapable”. The employer now has the right to dismiss the employee.
Please note that the employer can under no circumstances dismiss an employee without following the correct procedure. All dismissals must be procedurally and substantively fair.
Poor work performance procedure
Poor work performance procedure
The employer must invite the employee to a consultation to discuss his/her unsatisfactory work performance. During the consultation it must be established if the problem is indeed poor performance and not misconduct. Take note to talk about the following:
- the required standard of work performance in the workplace;
- duties required of the employee;
- the reasons why the employer is of the opinion that the employee is failing to meet these standards; and
- provide the employee with a clear indication of what will happen if the required standard of work performance is not met.
During the consultation the employee must be afforded an opportunity to state his/her case. The employee must then explain why he/she is not meeting the required standards During all consultations the employee has the right to be heard and may be assisted by a trade union representative or a fellow employee.
Implementation of the solution
Re-evaluation and second consultation
If the employee still fails to meet the required standard, a disciplinary hearing must be held where the employee has the opportunity to state his/her case. It is important to establish during this hearing whether dismissal is the appropriate sanction and if any alternatives exist.
Should the employee refer a case of unfair dismissal to the CCMA, the commissioner will consider the following in determining whether the dismissal was unfair:
- Did the employee fail to meet the performance standards and if so:
- was the employee aware, or could reasonably be expected to have been aware, of the required performance standard;
- was the employee given a fair opportunity to meet the required performance standard;
- is dismissal an appropriate sanction for not meeting the required performance standard.
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