Guidance for line management on probation capability meetings
When dealing with unsatisfactory performance etc, the following stages will be followed sequentially (except in cases of serious non-compliance with our code of conduct and/or disciplinary rules, when we may move straight to a formal meeting):
- Informal action
- Final probation review (this will be repeated following an extension to probation)
- Formal meeting
Aside from probation assessment forms, we will remove all documentation relating to the period of under performance from your file no later than 12 months following the date your line manager halted the procedure.
At the formal meeting and appeal hearing a trade union representative or work colleague may accompany the employee.
- Explain how the employee is failing to meet their objectives and/or the necessary standards of behaviour/attendance/timekeeping
- Explore the possible reasons for not meeting the required standards. Ask the employee whether there is anything (possible external to BBSRC) that is stopping them from meeting those standards
- Agree on a course of remedial action and timescales, including any assistance and training/guidance required
- Give the employee an opportunity to ask questions or raise concerns about any aspect of his/her employment
- Clearly explain the consequences of underperforming to the employee. The individual should be helped to understand that a continued failure to achieve the required standards could ultimately lead to his or her employment being terminated.
It is important that you do not restrict the meeting to discussions of problems areas, but also identify and comment on the positive outcomes that the new employee has achieved.
At the end of the meeting you should agree an action place with the employee so that his or her progress can be monitored. The action place should be documented in detail, stating what should be done, by whom, how and by when. In this way, the employee will be aware of what is expected of him or her by the time of the next review. Give a copy to the employee and Head of HR.
- Have the opportunity to raise any issues
- Agree on a course of remedial actions and timescales
In order to give the employee full opportunity to come up to the required standards, the line manager will ensure that a reasonable period has been allowed before recommending termination of employment. However, it is not a requirement that the employee completes the entire probation period and if there is clear evidence to suggest that the employee is wholly unsuitable for the role, the line manager should consult HR.
At the end of the probationary period, you should conduct a final progress review of the employee's performance and suitability for the job and complete the final probation report. It is extremely important that the final review meeting is held on or before the end of the agreed probationary period.
If the employee's performance is satisfactory, his/her appointment will be confirmed.
The final review will allow both the manager and employee to:
- Identify and discuss any areas in which the employee requires further training or development
- Check how the employee feels about his or her employment in general
- Explain how performance will be managed in the future, for example through the employer's formal appraisal system
If the employee's performance has not been up to the standards required, the manager should discuss the matter with the HR department before any decision is made to extend probation (for when this might to appropriate see paragraph 3) or not to confirm the employee's appointment (see paragraph 4)
3.1 The line manager may extend probation for a defined period if there is a reasonable prospect that, given further time, the required standard(s) will be met and the appointment confirmed. Extension on the grounds of performance will normally be for two months in the first instance.
3.2 If a longer period of probation is required on medical grounds (see paragraph 8 below) or because of absence on maternity leave, the probation period will have a maximum of two years, including the time of absence.
- The length of the extension and the date on which the extended period of probation will end
- The reasons for the extension
- The standards they are required to achieve and maintain
- The time limits for improvement
- Any training/support to be provided (if applicable)
- That if they do not meet fully the required standards by the end of the extended period of probation, a formal meeting will be held, which may result in a recommendation for dismissal due to failure of probation
3.4 During a probation extension, the line manager should carry out probation reviews more frequently than during normal probation, unless the extension is due to maternity leave or on medical grounds.
If the employee's performance is unsatisfactory at the end of:
- Their probationary period and an extension is not considered to be appropriate; or
- The extended period of probation
a formal meeting will be held with the employee.
Reason for meeting: Cases of serious non-compliance; where remedial actions have failed and/or there has been insufficient improvement in performance5.1 Before the meeting
- The line manager must invite the employee, in writing, to a meeting to discuss the matter and respond to the issues raised
- The line manager should set out in the letter a summary of the issues (taking advice from HR)
- The employee must be made aware in writing that they have the right to be accompanied at the meeting by a trade union representative or a work colleague
- The line manager will explain how the employee is failing to meet their objectives and/or necessary standards of behaviour
- The employee has the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a work colleague
- A member of HR may also be present
Management must inform the employee of the outcome of the meeting in writing, after taking advice from HR. The following options are available;
- Consideration of reasonable adjustments and/or re-deployment if the employee is disabled
- A further period of probation
- Dismissal for failure of probation
The line manager can recommend that the employee be dismissed. The Head of HR will review the reasons for dismissal and, where the employee has a disability, also consider whether suitable alternative employment within the establishment is an option. If, following failure of probation, the employee is redeployed their probation period will start again. If dismissal is supported by the Head of HR, the Head of Operations (or equivalent) will confirm the dismissal and send a letter of termination to the employee. Details of notice periods are set out in section A14. Compensation in lieu of notice will be given where management considers this is appropriate.
An employee who fails probation for any reasons is not entitled to any benefits under the Research Councils' compensation scheme.
6.1 An employee can appeal against dismissal on probation. The appeal must be made to the Head of Operations (or equivalent) within 14 days of receiving the letter of termination. The Head of Operations will, in consultation with the Head of HR, appoint a suitable person to hear the appeal.
6.2 The employee will be invited to a meeting, although they can choose to have their appeal heard through the submission of a paper case. If a further meeting is called, the employee must make every effort to attend. They may invite a trade union representative or work colleague to accompany them. The meeting or the consideration of a paper case can take place after the dismissal has taken effect.
7.2 There may be occasions when we are unable to contact an employee or they are unable to attend a meeting. However, it is important that the process is not unreasonably delayed at any stage and therefore in these circumstances you should advise the employee that the following will normally apply:-
- If the employee's representative is not available they should offer a reasonable alternative date within five days of the original date. Meetings cannot be unreasonably delayed due to the non-availability of a particular representative
- If an employee fails to attend due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g. illness) we will arrange another meeting with them
- If they are repeatedly unable or unwilling to attend a meeting the following alternatives may also be offered in order to give them every opportunity to present their views:-
- holding the meeting at their home
- holding the meeting at a neutral location
- holding the meeting via a telephone or video conference
- going ahead with the hearing in their absence but with a TUS representative or work colleague of their choosing who will present their case
- going ahead with the hearing but taking into account any written representations that they wish to make
- the seriousness of the issues under consideration
- medical opinion from the Occupational Health physician on whether they are fit to attend the meeting
- how we have dealt with similar cases in the past
We may decide to proceed in the employee's absence, but they will be advised in advance. The meeting/hearing will take into account all the available relevant information and they will be notified of the outcome in writing and made aware of the right to appeal, as appropriate.
- As a line manager, it is essential that you consider whether ill-health has contributed to unsatisfactory performance
- Throughout probation, you must observe the requirements of the Disability Discrimination legislation in respect of reasonable adjustments to the work and working environment
- If the employee is suffering through ill-health or disability, you must consider adjusting individual objectives and/or making other reasonable adjustments. Advice should be sought from the Occupational Health Advisor via the HR department. Any advice received will be discussed with the employee by the line manager and a member of the HR department
Guidance on all the above can be obtained from Head of HR.
8.2 All personal information must be held in accordance with HRG guidance note: Data Protection Act 1998 (PDF 152KB).
Last updated 29/03/010
Amendment 88 - March 2010