Capability procedure (managing under-performance)
1.1 This procedure is designed to ensure that cases of under-performance are dealt with similarly and fairly, with the prime objective of improving an individual's performance to the required level.
1.2 UCL has a responsibility for setting realistic and measurable standards of performance, for explaining these standards carefully to members of staff and for supporting staff to achieve the standards set. These standards and expectations should be set out clearly from the outset through the induction and probation procedure. Ongoing standards and objections should then be clearly communicated through appraisal and ongoing supervision and support.
1.3 All members of staff have a contractual responsibility to perform their duties to an acceptable standard and they should be given all reasonable support and encouragement to do so.
1.4 For the purpose of this policy an individual's capability to do their job is assessed by reference to their skills, qualifications, aptitude, health or any other physical or mental quality.
2.1 This procedure applies to all UCL Qatar staff who have successfully completed their probation period and establishes guidelines for managers and staff in relation to the management of under-performance.
2.2 Academic staff are also covered by the provisions laid out in Statute 18.
2.3 Disciplinary matters should be addressed in line with the UCL Qatar Disciplinary Procedure.
2.4 Ill health will be dealt with through the Sickness Absence policy.
3. General Principles
- Fairness: The application of this procedure will be consistent, prompt, impartial, reasonable and applied without discrimination.
- Confidentiality: Information relating to capability should not be divulged to any parties not involved in the capability process. Statements, letters and other communications will be strictly confidential to those involved in the capability procedure and records will be kept in accordance with the [insert data protection policy UCL Qatar]
- Natural justice: At every formal stage of the capability procedure, the employee will be advised of the nature of the concern and will be given the opportunity to state his/her case. Where a warning is given, the employee will be provided with appropriate support to improve his/her performance.
- Equal opportunities: This procedure will be applied without any distinction as to sex or gender, age, sexual orientation, marital or parental status or other family circumstance, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, creed, disability, political belief, membership of or activities as part of a trade union, or social or economic status. UCL monitors the use of its capability procedure by the sex, age, ethnic origin and disability status of those against whom action is taken to ensure that its implementation does not impact unfairly on any one group.
- Representation: The employee has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague1 at every stage of the formal procedure. Any request to be accompanied at a meeting must be reasonable i.e. the workplace representative should not be someone who may have a conflict of interest or who may prejudice the hearing. The employee should notify the Manager of his/her chosen workplace representative prior to a meeting.
- Right of appeal: An employee has a right of appeal against any formal disciplinary sanction and appeals will be heard by a manager not previously involved in the case, in accordance with the Appeals Procedure.
- Recordings: Audio/Visual recordings of the proceedings by the employee, his/her workplace colleague or managers are not acceptable at any stage of the capability procedure and will not be admissible within this process, unless agreed as a reasonable adaptation.
- Discipline and Grievance: Any concerns that an employee has regarding action being taken against her or him should be raised as part of his/her response to the action and will normally be considered within this procedure. Any grievance raised by an employee who is already subject to the capability process (and which does not relate to it) will normally be heard on completion of the capability procedure
4. Informal action
4.1 When there is evidence that an individual is not performing at an acceptable level, the manager should investigate the circumstances without delay and endeavour to ascertain the reasons for the unsatisfactory performance. If, following this examination, the manager considers that the individual's performance is deficient in some material respect, an informal discussion with the member of staff will be arranged. At this meeting the manager will:
- make clear the areas in which the individual's performance is below expectations (explaining the grounds / evidence for this view) with the aim of identifying any problems or reasons for the under-performance, which could be resolved. Solutions to the problem could include additional training, providing a mentor, coaching or some other kind of ongoing support to the individual.
- give the individual the opportunity to explain their under-performance and to raise any concerns they may have about the job, or the support and guidance they have been given to do it.
- consider any reasonable adjustments that may need to be put in place when dealing with disabled members of staff
- ensure that the member of staff is aware of the level of performance / productivity required in relation to each element of the duties about which there is a concern and how this will be assessed.
- set a reasonable time frame within which improvement is expected and arrange a further meeting at the end of this time to review the situation. When establishing “reasonable timescales” for improvement, managers must consider the complexity of the tasks involved in relation to the qualifications and experience of the individual.
4.2 The content and outcome of this meeting will be confirmed by the manager in writing to the individual, including the type of improvement required, any additional support or training that will be provided, any other agreed actions and the timescale for improvement and review.
4.3 When discussing under-performance managers must be specific about their concerns and must demonstrate evidence and/or give examples to support their assertions.
5. Formal Action
5.1 If there is continued unsatisfactory performance or where a first instance of unsatisfactory performance is sufficiently serious to warrant formal action (e.g. where health & safety is at risk or significant costs or other liabilities are involved) the member of staff should be invited to a formal interview to discuss the matter. The individual will have the opportunity to explain their unsatisfactory performance. They will be reminded of the earlier informal discussions (where these have happened) and the steps taken to support an improvement in their performance. They will be told as precisely as possible, the reasons for the manager's continued concerns about their performance. If, having heard any explanations offered by the member of staff, the manager/supervisor remains concerned, a formal warning will be given for unsatisfactory performance. This will be confirmed in writing to the individual.
5.2 This warning will be placed on the individual's HR file and will be disregarded after a period of 12 months.
5.3 Further consideration should be given to any additional training or support that could reasonably be provided to the member of staff to enable them to reach the required standard of performance. A reasonable time period will be set within which improvement is expected and a further meeting arranged at the end of this time to review the situation.
6. First Review
6.1 If there has been insufficient improvement in performance within the timescale following the formal warning a review will be held with the individual. The manager will review the history of the case, including the steps that have been taken to support the individual to achieve the required level of performance. If, having heard the explanation offered by the member of staff, the manager/supervisor remains concerned a final warning will be issued for unsatisfactory performance. This will be confirmed in writing. The member of staff will be informed that their job will be at risk if satisfactory performance levels cannot be achieved and subsequently maintained.
6.2 This warning will be placed on the individual's HR file and will be disregarded after a period of 12 months.
6.3 Further consideration should be given to any additional training or support that could reasonably be provided to the member of staff to enable them to reach the required standard of performance. A review period will be set within which improvement is expected and a further meeting arranged at the end of this time to review the situation.
7. Final Review
7.1 If there has been insufficient improvement in performance within the timescale following the final warning, a final review with the member of staff will be held. At this interview the manager will review the history of the case, including the steps that have been taken to support the individual to achieve the required level of performance. The individual's explanation will be heard and considered. A decision will then be taken to either dismiss the member of staff on the grounds of capability or to extend the final warning to allow further time for improvement and maintenance of any improvement. The manager will confirm this decision and the reasons for it in writing to the individual. The option of allowing further time for improvement may only be considered if there is evidence to persuade the manager that further time is likely to lead to the required improvement in performance. The Human Resources Manager must be consulted prior to any meeting that may lead to dismissal.
7.2 In the case of academic staff, the Discipline, Dismissal or Removal from Office procedure enshrined in Statute 18 will be followed at this point.
8.1 A member of staff will receive 5 working days advanced notice in writing of any formal interview arranged under this policy (unless the employee agrees to less). Please note 'working days' is based on a 5 day working week. For part time staff this includes any 'non working days'. At all such interviews the member of staff has the right to be accompanied by a work colleague. Where witnesses are to be called by the manager or the individual, prior notice of this should be given.
8.2 Where an individual's workplace colleague is unable to attend the meeting at the notified time, the meeting will be postponed and rescheduled to an alternative time, normally within 5 working days.
9 Right of Appeal
9.1 An individual has the right to appeal against any formal warning issued in line with this policy and must do so by writing to the Director of Human Resources, within 7 working days of the date of receipt of written confirmation of the action taken against them, stating their grounds for appeal.
9.2 The appeal will be heard by a different manager. The appeal hearing will take into account any new evidence that either party may present and consider its relevance to the sanction imposed.
9.3 Where an appeal is upheld, reference to the warning or dismissal will be disregarded. Alternatively, the outcome of the appeal hearing may be to impose a lesser penalty e.g. a final warning instead of dismissal, or to shorten the period for which the warning was originally issued. The outcome of the appeal will be set out in writing to the employee within 5 working days.
9.4 If an employee is successful in appealing against dismissal, they will be paid in line with their contract of employment in respect of the period from dismissal to reinstatement, as if the dismissal had never taken place.
HR Policy and Planning