Capability: Procedure for Handling Lack of Capability
For all employees other than those covered by Statute XXI - Academic Staff
a) The following procedure applies only to circumstances connected with capability. In this context capability means having the necessary skills and aptitude to carry out the duties of a job satisfactorily. It does not apply to the termination of appointment of a probationary employee or an employee with less than six months' service.
b) Lack of capability may be seen in relation to separate tasks or as a pattern covering most or all of an employee’s duties. It should be assessed with reference to the performance that can be expected from a fully competent employee and also with an individual’s past capability. Evidence of lack of capability could include poorly finished work, customer complaints or low work rate. It can occur because of a number of factors such as inability to adapt to new ways of working, the working environment, personal problems or ill health.
c) Minor issues relating to capability shall be dealt with informally through Staff Appraisal or other performance review processes and are not part of this procedure.
d) For all employees the central intention must be to adopt a positive developmental approach, with clear ideas of what is required and carefully defined targets over a reasonable timescale. Before any formal action is taken the Head of Department must undertake an investigation to establish the likely cause. This may lead to a referral to the Occupational Health Service or Counseling Service instead of action under this procedure. It may also lead to reasonable adjustments being made in accordance with Disability Discrimination legislation. Lack of commitment or inattention to duties where there is no underlying capability issue should be dealt with under the separate disciplinary procedure.
e) The normal sequence of events for formal action is set out below. In circumstances where lack of capability has, or may, lead to serious consequences in terms of health and safety or the protection of the assets of the University this procedure may be started at any stage including dismissal.
f) At any meeting the employee may be accompanied by a Trades Union representative or fellow employee of their choice. A Head of Department/Section may appoint a nominee to deal with stages g) to m) below.
g) The employee will be informed in writing of the areas in which capability is seen to be inadequate and called to a meeting with the Head of Department. At this meeting the employee will be given the opportunity to state their case before any decision is reached. If the Head of Department or Section does not accept the explanation given by the employee, and no agreement can be reached, a formal notification that action is being taken under this procedure will be issued. The Head of Department or Section will produce a Capability Improvement Plan that will detail reasonable targets for improvement to be achieved by the date of the review meeting (see h) below) and any necessary support that has been discussed. In all cases, the appropriate resources required to implement the improvement plan must be identified and provided. In particular, where an inadequate level of skill has been identified the Capability Improvement Plan must include details of staff development support to be made available and other appropriate measures that will be taken. A copy of the notification and the Capability Improvement Plan will be placed on the employee's personal file and, if requested by the employee, also be given to the Trades Union representative. This notification shall be disregarded after 12 months if no further action is taken.
h) A formal review meeting must be scheduled between the Head of Department and the employee – the date should allow a realistic period for the achievement of the targets set in the Capability Improvement Plan. Depending on the nature of the work involved and the type of targets that have been set this meeting would typically be between three and twelve months ahead.
i) During this first improvement period, an interim review meeting will take place. This meeting should normally be half way through the review period. The purpose of this meeting is to provide interim feedback between the Head of Department or Section and the employee on progress so far.
j) If the conclusion of the formal review meeting is that capability has improved sufficiently no further action will be needed. This should be recorded in a note to the employee. (If performance falls to an unacceptable level within 12 months of the formal notification the Head of Department or Section will re-convene the review meeting and re-start the procedure at point k) below.)
k) If, by the time of the formal review meeting, there has been insufficient improvement without an acceptable explanation the employee will be given a formal caution. The formal caution will indicate that failure to reach the required standard of capability by the next review date could lead to demotion, re-assignment to a more suitable post or dismissal. The Head of Department or Section will review the Capability Improvement Plan produced when the first formal notification was issued and amend or add to it as appropriate. A copy of the formal caution, and any amendment to the Capability Improvement Plan will be placed on the employee's personal file and, if requested by the employee, also be given to the Trades Union representative. This caution shall be disregarded after 12 months if no further action is taken.
l) A further review meeting must be scheduled between the Head of Department or Section and the employee – as before, the date should allow a realistic period for the achievement of the targets set in the Capability Improvement Plan and would typically be no more than three months ahead.
m) If the conclusion of the review meeting is that capability has improved sufficiently no further action will be needed. This should be recorded in a note to the employee. (If performance falls to an unacceptable level within 12 months of the formal caution the Head of Department or Section will re-convene the review meeting and re-start the procedure at point n) below.)
n) If the Head of Department or Section’s judgment is that capability remains inadequate without an acceptable explanation the meeting shall be adjourned to allow the Head to discuss the matter with Human Resources. A decision to demote, re-assign or dismiss shall only be taken after the employee has been invited to a further meeting with the Head of Department or Section. The reasons for the action will be set out in writing.
o) An employee shall be entitled to appeal against any formal action taken, from formal notification and production of a Capability Improvement Plan through to dismissal, in accordance with the procedures set out in the document Procedure for appeals against actions taken under the disciplinary and capability procedures a copy of which may be seen in Human Resources. In every case where formal action is taken, the person taking that action shall furnish a copy of the appeals procedure document to the employee concerned at the time of the action.
p) The timeline of events is as set out below: