The employer or the line manager for that matter, has many responsibilities when it comes to poor work performance. The employer must evaluate an employee’s performance to see if the work results meet the standards.
What does the Court say when dealing with cases of poor performance? The Labour Appeal Court (LAC) states the following:
- That the employer is entitled to set the required standards that the employee must meet. The Court would not intervene unless those standards are grossly unreasonable;
- That it is up to the employer to assess if the employee meets those standards. Again, the Court would not interfere unless the assessment is grossly unreasonable;
- That the employer must prove its case on a balance of probabilities.
Employees should be evaluated regularly.
In practice, the LAC wants employers to evaluate employees on a regular basis. The employer or line manager must use this time to communicate any problems and the extent of those problems with the employee.
Moreover, the employee also has the chance to explain the reasons for his shortcomings. The line manager should be in a position to counsel him about what is expected from him.
The line manager should further stipulate a time within which the employee would be given a chance to improve. The line manager must inform the employee about the possible consequences if he does not meet the standards at the end of the time frame.
The line manager also needs to look into the circumstances around the employee’s poor performance before dismissal is considered. It does not have to be a formal enquiry. It can be meetings between the line manager and the employee, or his representative. Investigate the extent of the problem, determine the reasons behind it and work towards a solution.
Also, the employee needs to be made aware of the seriousness of the situation if the poor performance continues. The courts have held that employers must give the employee a clear ultimatum that failure to improve performance could lead to dismissal.
Managing poor work performance requires time and effort from the line manager as the responsibilities associated with such a process and possible consequences if managed incorrectly, may well cause employers unnecessary inconvenience and having to face possible litigation.