Failing to hit set targets in work will usually spell trouble for an employee.
When it is considered the employee has been issued with previous warnings and still failed to meet expectations, the consequences can be dire.
Casandra was once the top performer at the North West car showroom where she works. When her sales figures plummeted it understandably attracted the attention of her bosses.
The dealership maintained it had acted fairly in issuing a number of warnings, both verbally and via email, before deciding to take disciplinary action against Cassandra.
She was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing to face allegations of underperforming and repeatedly failing to hit targets.
Despite the company’s disciplinary policy stating it will always carry out an investigation before instigating disciplinary action, it did not do so.
The notification to attend the disciplinary hearing warned Cassandra that the allegations if proven may be considered acts of gross misconduct and lead to her dismissal.
The letter did not inform Cassandra of her statutory right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at the disciplinary hearing. A colleague advised her that she can take a companion to the hearing, and urged her to do so.
Cassandra contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help and was put in touch with one of our representatives.
After reviewing the employer’s evidence against Cassandra our representative met with her to discuss the case.
Cassandra accepted that she had been underperforming. Our representative sought to establish the reasons for this, as it can provide significant mitigation.
Cassandra had been through a horrendous 10-month period in which she lost her mother and father in quick succession, seriously damaged knee ligaments which resulted in her being off work for just over one month and she had also been undergoing unsuccessful IVF treatment.
As well as identifying mitigating factors our representative requested additional information from the employer prior to the hearing, which he believed may help Cassandra’s case. This information included her training record and the company’s performance management policy.
At the hearing the evidence relied upon to demonstrate Cassandra’s poor performance was her sales figures and emails from her manager, the tone of which was, she had to do better or she may be dismissed.
In presenting Cassandra’s case our representative was able to present the following:
· Cassandra had played a major role in caring for her elderly parents and was devastated by the death of her mother, and then the sudden unexpected death of her father weeks later.
Cassandra was aware that her sales figures had been down and despite suffering the effects of bereavement she returned to work too quickly.
Her emotional well-being was undoubtedly a factor in how she performed her role.
· When Cassandra damaged her right knee ligaments it was shortly after she had been informed her sales figures needed to improve.While off sick Cassandra received statutory sick pay, which meant she would not be able to meet her financial commitments. This forced her to return to work before the injury had fully healed. Cassandra was not fully fit and this impacted on her performance.
· Unsuccessful IVF treatment had also been incredibly difficult for Casandra and her husband. She had kept this to herself as she did not feel comfortable discussing the matter in work. This caused her considerable stress and anxiety and understandably would have had a knock-on effect on how she performed in work.
· In relation to the above points, the process to address concerns about Cassandra’s performance was unfair. The company had a specific policy to address underperformance. It was incorrectly treating the case as misconduct and a disciplinary matter rather than addressing Cassandra’s performance.Concerns about her performance were also not raised in the proper manner, in accordance with the performance management policy, and she was not offered any support or additional training.
Following the disciplinary hearing the company decided not to take disciplinary action against Cassandra. Instead after holding meaningful discussions with our representative and Cassandra it put in place a number of measures to support her.