How to Deal with Capability Issues

Peninsula Team

July 29 2009

Peninsula’s 24 hour Advice Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is on hand to guide clients through all aspects of employment law. If you believe you may have a capability issue in your business, call us now on 0844 892 2772, where one of our advisors will be happy to help.

While companies know how to tackle employees who won’t work properly they often find it more difficult to deal with employees who can’t carry out the work. In the vast majority of cases capability issues are left for a long time because employers haven’t got the time to deal with them and they hope the employee will work out how to improve on their own.

There is a general reluctance to tell someone that they aren’t up to the job at that time because it isn’t the employees fault. Instead, employers tend to ignore the problem until either the employee improves or they do something significantly wrong at which point the employer looks to dismiss for incompetence. This isn’t fair to either the employee or the company.

It is important for employers to remember that they hired this employee for a reason. There was something about this employee that made them think that this person would add value to the organisation and was right for the role. It is, therefore, worth taking the time at the beginning to properly induct and monitor the employee and see if any issues of underperformance can be resolved before they escalate.

Capability issues can in most cases be resolved if they are tackled promptly and properly. The capability procedures are designed to resolve problems and improve performance. If used properly they can help ensure that employees meet their potential and give them the best chance of attaining the required standard.

In order to resolve a capability issue an employee needs to be told how they are underperforming and have a set plan, including measurable targets, to show what improvements are needed. Following the company capability procedure ensures that everyone understands the different stages and there is a clear record of the problems, any explanations given for the difficulties and details of the measures taken to try to resolve the issue.

The capability procedure is the opportunity for both the employer and the employee to identify if there are any underlying problems causing the poor performance to see if they can be resolved. These can range from basic knowledge gaps that can be remedied through training to issues of disability that may need reasonable adjustments.

Tackling capability issues early on heads off any major issues further down the line. It also helps protect the company from allegations of discrimination or victimisation. If a problem is recognised but not dealt with for any significant period then the question will be asked as to why the company is suddenly addressing the issue at that time. If the employee can refer to a recent incident, such as raising a complaint about pay or holidays or announcing pregnancy then it bring into question the reasonableness of the employer’s actions. Dealing with capability issues as they become apparent and recording the explanations given at the time, including if there could be any underlying problem, is a company’s best chance of fixing a problem and protecting themselves against future Tribunal claims.

Remember if you believe you may have capability issues in your workplace, call the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our specialist advisors will be happy to help.

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