Sick Boy and poor performers may soon be less of a drain on the system when occupational health practitioners decide who is fit for work – and who is not. Stefan martin reports
hoose life, choose a job, choose a career, as Ewan McGregor’s Renton character in Trainspotting says. But in hindsight, would you choose to hire again the same employees you have? According to a recent CBI survey, 45 per cent of employees fall below the benchmarks set by employers. So who are the poor performers and what is the best way to deal with them?
Let’s take Sick Boy. CBI figures show that 6.8 days are lost per employee due to sickness. It is also claimed that HR managers believe these absences are often down to Renton-style malingerers, assisted by GPs dishing out sicknotes like sweets.
Other poor performers could include Tommy-type employees, whose weekend cocaine and champagne sessions hang over into the working week. Not forgetting the victims of “Begbie” style bosses who may be stressed out or bullied to breaking point. And, finally, Spud, a Tim-nice-but-dim character who is not up to the job.
Employers should not shy away from performance management, particularly in sensitive areas such as stress. There are pitfalls, but following company procedures carefully can deliver effective remedies for under-performers. We are also seeing case law and legislative developments starting to take a tougher stance on the potential for opportunist claims that might result.
Depending on the outcome of an investigation into why an employee is under-performing, the next step is to choose the most appropriate course of action. In most cases, this will either be via the disciplinary or sickness/capability procedures.
In the Spud case, where the reason is incompetence, employers must provide employees with sufficient warnings and an opportunity to improve, within reasonable targets and timescales. If there is no improvement, dismissal can be carried out fairly provided the employer follows procedures correctly. New statutory disciplinary and grievance procedures, which come into force in October 2004, should cut the likelihood of procedural mistakes and unfair dismissal claims arising.