As an employer it is important to ensure that there is a consistent approach to the management of capability at work. The main aim with regard to capability issues is to ensure that, wherever possible, standards of work are reaching the performance levels required of the employee.

All concerns about capability should be logged on personnel records and communicated to the employee as soon as possible and advice should be sought by the employer on the action to be pursued.

Capability at work should be assessed by measuring the employee’s skills, abilities and performance against clear standards and expectations. These expected standards of performance should have been communicated to the employee from the outset of their employment and reiterated in any subsequent performance appraisals.

If there is a gap between the employee’s performance and the standards expected, then this is defined as a capability issue. Such shortcomings should be drawn to the employee’s attention at an early stage and expected improvements, with measurable targets wherever possible, should be laid out. The employee should feel both supported in improving their work performance and also understand the potential consequences if improvement is not attained with a certain timescale.

It may be that employees need additional support such as training in order to achieve the expected standards of work.
Medical capability, i.e. whether an employee is physically able to work, is a different although related issue. As a result of ill health, an employee may no longer be able to do the work that they were employed to do. The first step in this situation is to establish the medical facts, which should be done through obtaining a medical report (see Access to Medical Records) following which advice should be sought on how to proceed.