Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tthe “3 strikes and you’re out” myth persists. Now here’s the truth

Performance management can be an uncomfortable task for any employer, especially when the end result is termination.

To avoid investigation with Fair Work Australia, employers (of all sizes) must practice procedural fairness that gives the employee an opportunity to respond to allegations of poor performance and allow them reasonable time (and support, if appropriate) to improve.

You must clearly set an expectation and ensure that the expectation is fair in the circumstances.

This means you have to say it out loud to the team member who is not performing – we’re not joking, this is often missed as people have a general tendency to avoid difficult conversations. Line managers need to clearly outline what’s wrong with their performance, why it’s an issue and what is expected in future.

Contrary to popular belief, the 3 warnings then you’re out rule is not a fair basis for dismissal and a termination could still easily be challenged as being ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’ even with 3 supposed ‘warnings’. You may think that you do not have to meet the same level of conduct if you’re a small business but the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code applies to you and the guidelines below still stand.

To ensure you professionally manage performance expectations employers of all sizes should:

1.       engage with the employee in open and fair discussions

2.       use written warnings to specify problems with their performance

3.       operate in good faith to provide any support (e.g. training) that may be necessary and

4.       set reasonable time frames for improvement and review


About The People Department

The People Department meets the needs of small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have HR expertise in-house. We are the Human Resources Department for businesses that only need it part-time or short-term – we do HR the way you want it. Find out more about us on our website or call us on 1300 362 344.

The People Department was created so that great people management practices could be accessible to businesses of all sizes. Co-founded by Angela Becroft and Samantha Baker, Sam, Ang and the team have had long careers in Human Resources and business management in start-ups and multi-nationals both in Australia and overseas and across many different industries.

Disclaimer: Please note that this information in this post or links does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. The People Department does not accept liability for any loss or damage that may arise from any such reliance.

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