What can an employer do with an employee who does not perform?
The employer must make sure that they do not confuse poor work performance with misconduct or negligence.
Misconduct deals with the employees behaviour whilst poor performance deals with the employee's ability to do the work.
When an employer dismisses an employee, the dismissal must be substantively and procedurally fair. The Labour Relations Act (LRA) recognises that the reason for any dismissal must fall into one of three different categories, based on the employees conduct, capacity or on the company's operational requirements.
When an employer wants to dismiss the under performing employee, the employer must follow the correct procedure. In other words, follow a performance management procedure, instead of proceeding with disciplinary charges of misconduct against the employee.
Employers are entitled to receive work that is done up to standard by employees. The employer must set the standards (which must be fair and reasonable under the circumstances) and the employee must be aware of the expected standard. Employers must very clearly communicate the required job standards to the employee.
The type of job will dictate what the standards should be. Employers must provide a job description and set targets of what needs to be done by when. With sale positions, certain targets must be set and these targets must be specified either in an amount of sales or in terms of the value of the sales.
The work done by the employee must be evaluated in a fair manner and instructions must be given to the employee. The employer is entitled to set performance standards without negotiations or consultations with the employee. Employers will however not be able to dismiss an employee by setting ridiculous standards that cannot be met practically by an employee.
Employers cannot expect employees to instinctively know what is expected from them. They need to be told, firstly what they need to achieve and, secondly, by when they need to achieve specific outcomes. If they are not meeting the required standards this must clearly be communicated to the employee.
The employer is obliged to provide training to the employee as a way of assisting the employee to reach the required standard of work. However, if an employee has been appointed for a specific job, for which he claimed to have specific skills, and the employer now found out that the employee does not possess the said skills, then the employer will not necessarily be obligated to provide training to the employee.
The employer must guide and counsel the under performing employee by getting the employee involved in the process, finding out what the problems are and jointly working to reach a solution.
An under performing employee must be given reasonable time to reach the required standard. If the employee still does not reach the required standard, then the employee must be given an opportunity to state his case before he is dismissed. Employees should note that no employer is required to be stuck with an under performing employee and if a manager does not get rid of under performing employees, then the manager is not doing his job. In summary, if an employer wants to dismiss an under performing employee, then the employer should: 1. Ensure that proper standards are set for the employee; 2. The employee must be made aware of the standards; 3. The standard of work must be evaluated fairly; 4. The shortcomings of the employee must be pointed out to them; 5. Employee must be trained, counselled and guided; 6. If this does not work then the employee may be dismissed, after the employee has been given an opportunity to state his case. By: Martin Vermaak, Attorney
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