Bad employee? Here’s how you can get rid of them: Consider a performance plan and don’t forget the two year rule

Redundancy may be a viable alternative route to sacking
There are bad bosses out there, but there are plenty of bad employees around too. They may be disruptive, difficult with colleagues, unwilling to learn, lazy or simply don’t fit into the culture of the organisation. In some cases, faults which might seem glaringly obvious subsequently are not picked up until a long way down the line. If you’re faced with a troublesome employee and are thinking of wielding the axe, what options do you have?

PROBATIONARY PERIODS

If employees are dismissed during or at the end of their probationary periods, employers can usually terminate their employment – provided appropriate notice is served. Some contracts of employment allow employers an option to extend probation if needed.

DISMISSING EMPLOYEES UNDER THE TWO YEAR MARK

Generally, employees need to have at least two years’ service to bring unfair dismissal claims. So that means employers do have more scope to get rid of problematic staff before they hit the two year mark. If things don’t work out during that time, you’re normally able to dismiss the employee without much fuss – again, as long as the right notice is given.
But be warned: an employee could try to bring claims, such as discrimination or whistleblowing, which have no length of service requirement. It’s therefore advisable to follow some sort of process wherever possible – so you can account for your decisions.
Also beware that employees can take the minimum statutory notice into account in getting over the two year mark. This is one week for continuous employment of less than two years but over one month. So if you dismiss an employee a few days before their two years’ service without serving them notice, an extra week can be added for the purpose of calculating the two year period.

THE POOR PERFORMANCE PROCESS

Of course, you might not need to go to the lengths of dismissal. Perhaps you’re simply dealing with a member of staff whose performance is poor.
When an employee’s work is not up to scratch, it might be appropriate to put them on a performance improvement plan. They should be given objectives and given an opportunity to improve. If the employee doesn’t raise their game, they could be required to attend a meeting. After that, it may be necessary to issue them with a warning. This process can be repeated, which might result in a final warning and a last chance to turn things around.
If they’re still not cutting the mustard, dismissal could be an option. But another hearing must be held first, and the employee should then have a right of appeal. If you don’t follow a proper process, the employee may have grounds to bring an unfair dismissal claim.

TIME TO RESTRUCTURE?

Another thing to consider is whether the employee’s role is really needed. After all, it may be lack of purpose which is fuelling their negligence. If someone is performing a specific, unique role and it could be got rid of, this is another option.
There would have to be a consultation period before any decision was reached. Other suitable alternative roles must also be considered – is there something else they could do far better? If the employee is doing the same or similar roles as others and the business wishes to reduce headcount, there would also need to be a fair selection process. Again, ensure you follow a fair procedure.

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