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Employee Performance Guidelines

In South African industries, it is recognised that there must be an acceptable standard of work which requires a suitable level of work performance to attain. The reason for this is so that industry can maintain adequate standards in which to function as a business, be the workplace production or service based. Employees are therefore required to perform in a manner that upholds those standards. When performance standards drop, production and service standards drop, impacting the business financially and in turn, the employee. It is therefore important that labour legislation support the employer to access tools which help them enforce performance standards and managed them should they drop to sub-par standards. As such the CCMA has developed a guideline which outlines aspects to reference when determining the appropriate steps to take when poor performance impacts the business.

When setting standards employees must make them both reasonable and relevant to the workplace and this standard should be made known to employees so that they are aware of what is expected of them. Performance standards can be communicated verbally or written in Job profiles or in the format of Key Performance indicators as part of monthly or quarterly targets or may have become known through practice and custom.  Performance standards will vary according to the nature of the business and job function.

When employee fails to reach the required standards employers should endeavour to inform the employee as soon as issues are identified and discuss the possible causes of the poor performance, identifying means to rectify any workplace-based causes with immediate effect. Examples of workplace cause include unreasonable workload, failing workplace tools or lack of training and awareness.  A decision needs to be made about how performance can be improved and causes rectified. A realistic timeframe for the achievement of the performance standards should be set.

Performance management, much like disciplinary action, should be progressive in approach. An employer must do everything possible to ensure the security of the employees employment however should all corrective and progressive performance management interventions fail, the employer can explore dismissal. Alternative options to dismissal include moving the employee into another suitable role where they can operate with guidance, amending some of the aspects of the job, enabling the employee to function at a more suitable level, and where possible, consider coaching and mentoring the employee with the goal of helping them to succeed in attaining better standards of performance.

In terms of Section 188A of the Labour Relations Act (as amended) employers or employees may request, by mutual consent, the CCMA or a Bargaining Council to appoint an arbitrator to conduct inquiry into allegations of poor work performance. Should the employee an inquiry actioned the finding of an internal inquiry would be useful to the chairperson and would eliminate duplication of proceedings followed by a referral to the CCMA or Bargaining Council for conciliation / arbitration.

The purpose of the poor performance inquiry is to determine, amongst other things, whether or not the employee failed to meet a performance standard of which the employee had made them aware and provide the employee with a fair opportunity to meet the requirements of the employer’s performance standards.