Introduction to this document

Performance review meeting order of proceedings

Performance review meetings need to be conducted in a constructive manner, with a view to putting measures in place to help the employee to improve their performance. If dismissal is being contemplated, redeployment should be explored as an alternative option. Our performance review meeting order of proceedings should enable you to get the process right.

Acas Code of Practice

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures applies as much to performance review meetings as it does to disciplinary hearings. The principles of fairness require you to establish the facts, inform the employee in writing of the performance problem, including supplying any evidence, and then hold a meeting with them to discuss it. At the meeting, you should explain the poor performance complaint against the employee and go through any evidence gathered. The employee should then be allowed to set out their case and answer the complaint, as well as ask questions and present their own evidence. After the meeting, you should then decide whether or not action for unsatisfactory performance is justified and inform the employee accordingly in writing.

Right to be accompanied

Under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, employees have a right, if they make a reasonable request, to be accompanied at the performance review meeting by either a fellow worker or a trade union official or trade union representative. If the employee’s chosen companion is not available at the time proposed, and the employee proposes another time that is reasonable and falls within five working days of the date originally proposed, you must postpone the meeting to the date and time proposed by the employee. The companion should be allowed to address the meeting to put and sum up the employee's case, respond on behalf of the employee to any views expressed at the meeting and confer with the employee during it. The companion does not, however, have the right to answer questions on the employee's behalf, address the meeting if the employee does not wish it or prevent you from explaining your case.

A collaborative approach

It’s important to bear in mind though that a performance review meeting isn’t the same as a disciplinary hearing. You are generally proceeding on the basis that the employee “can’t perform” due to a lack of capability that isn’t their fault, rather than “won’t perform” because they’re lazy or have an attitude problem - the latter cases should be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure as they’re misconduct matters. This means that, as well as exploring how and why the employee is failing to meet acceptable performance standards, you also need to examine what you could be doing to assist them to improve, for example, by offering additional training or supervision or better equipment. The nature of the meeting will therefore be less adversarial and more collaborative than a disciplinary hearing. In fact, it’s normally acceptable for the employee’s line manager to chair the meeting (assuming they have the authority to impose warnings) as there’s not the same need as there is in a disciplinary hearing for the meeting to be conducted by an independent manager not directly involved in the issue. When it comes to dismissal though, the meeting needs to be chaired by someone sufficiently senior who has the authority to dismiss.

Order of proceedings

If you follow our Performance Review Meeting Order of Proceedings, it will ensure you do things by the book. The fairness of any performance management process used will be a key factor in establishing whether or not any subsequent capability dismissal is fair, assuming the situation gets that far because there’s insufficient improvement in the employee’s performance. Our order of proceedings comprises a series of points to cover everything in a logical order. If you’re at the stage in the process where dismissal is being contemplated, redeployment to a suitable alternative role should also be explored at the meeting as an alternative option to dismissal, if this is something that the employee would accept.