Principles and standards

1 The following principles and standards apply to all procedures detailed in these Ordinances.

2 These procedures apply to all members of staff except those engaged on a claims basis and Graduate Teaching Assistant.

3 Where there is an issue as to the meaning of ‘academic freedom’ in any proceedings under these Ordinances, regard shall be had to the agreement with the University and College Union regarding the definition of academic freedom dated 31 July 2009.

4 The decision of the appropriate manager/panel on which procedure is to be followed shall be final.

5 The application of these Ordinances/Procedures may be modified by the Director of Human Resources in cases where a member of staff employed by the University works in, or is managed by employees of, a third party organisation, including in cases of secondment. In particular:

  • the Director of Human Resources may authorise managers employed by the partner organisation to take action under these procedures, in conjunction with, or in substitution for, appropriate University Managers;
  • where a member of staff raises a complaint about his/her treatment by a partner organisation or any of its employees, the University shall endeavour to deal with the complaint within the spirit of the Grievance Procedure, as far as is practicable to do so;
  • for the avoidance of doubt, action under these procedures may be taken in respect of the member of staff's conduct or performance during his/her work for the partner organisation.

6 An employee has the right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union representative at any meeting under the formal stages of these procedures.

7 An employee may ask for meetings under the formal stages of these procedures to be postponed for up to one week, on one occasion only. Following such a postponement, the University reserves the right to proceed with the meeting in the employee’s absence.

8 The Director of Human Resources must be involved at all formal stages of these procedures. References to the Director of Human Resources include a designate of the Director of Human Resources.

9 Time limits (other than those for prior notification of meetings/disclosure of documentation before meetings) are indicative – there may be circumstances, particularly in the case of complex cases, where these are not realistic. If it is not possible to respond or take action within the time limits referred to in this Procedure, the employee should be given an explanation for the delay and told when a response can be expected. The time limits may be varied by mutual agreement in individual cases.

10 References to academic managers in these procedures means staff in the academic job families with line management responsibility.

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1 Purpose and Principles

1.1 The purpose of the capability/performance procedure is to help and encourage employees to achieve and maintain required standards of performance. The aim of the procedure is also to ensure that when action needs to be taken, it is applied consistently and fairly in every case.

1.2 Managers are expected to regularly review the performance of the staff they manage, giving timely feedback and providing appropriate support and training.

1.3 Before any formal sanction is applied under this procedure, an employee will be advised of the nature of the complaint and given an opportunity, with reasonable notice, to state their case at a meeting.

1.4 There may be occasions when, depending on the seriousness of the alleged shortfalls in performance, it will be appropriate to enter the procedure at the stage of a final warning or at the dismissal stage which may include dismissal without notice. (Paragraph 5).

1.5 The employee has the right to appeal at each stage of the formal procedure (paragraph 7).

1.6 Although the usual performance standards must apply to trade union representatives, no formal sanction will be applied in respect of an employee who is an accredited Trade Union representative until the circumstances of the case have been discussed with the local senior representative of the Union concerned or a full-time official.

1.7 The University will endeavour to deal with matters under this procedure promptly and without undue delay, and expects the member of staff concerned to co-operate to achiev)e that aim.

1.8 Where any part of this Procedure is being or has been applied, the University will not disclose that fact or the details of the issues to other members of staff or anyone outside of the University except where this is required under law or a duty of care or any other University procedure or to facilitate any investigation or where a limited disclosure is justified by the circumstances.

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2 Scope

2.1 This procedure does not apply to formal action or dismissals taken under the procedure for probation.

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3 Authority to take formal action under this procedure

3.1 The Vice-Chancellor, Registrar and Secretary, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, College Dean, Heads of Service and College Managers are authorised, subject to any appropriate training, to take action at all stages detailed in paragraph 5, including the authority to dismiss, in accordance with this procedure and following consultation with the Director of Human Resources.

3.2 Formal action under this procedure in respect of staff in the academic job families will be taken by academic managers.

3.3 The Director of Human Resources may authorise other named managers (subject to any appropriate training) to take defined levels of action in accordance with this procedure, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources.

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4 Addressing issues prior to the use of the Formal Procedure

4.1 In cases of minor shortfalls in performance, the immediate supervisor should discuss these concerns with the employee. Appropriate action at this stage may include:

  • support and training
  • advice and guidance
  • counselling.

4.2 The purpose of this discussion is to ensure that the employee:

  • is aware of the concerns;
  • knows what is required to meet expected standards of performance;
  • is made aware of the timescale over which an improvement is required;
  • is made aware of the consequences of not achieving the required standard.

4.3 In certain circumstances it will be necessary for the discussion and outcome to be confirmed in writing.

4.4 This is not a stage in the formal Procedure.

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5 Stages in the Capability/Performance Procedure

5.1 Prior to any formal meeting under this procedure, the manager who is to conduct the meeting must advise the employee in writing, at least one week before the date of the meeting:

  • that there will be a meeting under the Capability/Performance procedure;
  • of the date, time and venue of the meeting;
  • of the concerns about their performance;
  • of the possible outcomes under the Capability/Performance procedure;
  • enclosing a copy of any statements from witnesses and other relevant evidence;
  • of their right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union representative.

5.2 The purpose of the meeting is to give the employee an opportunity to state their case and to answer the allegations that have been made.

5.3 At the meeting, the manager conducting the meeting may hear evidence from witnesses and the employee may arrange for witnesses to attend and give evidence. The manager conducting the meeting may question any witnesses. The employee or the trade union representative or fellow worker accompanying them may also question witnesses, although the manager conducting the meeting may determine that all questions are directed through him/her.

5.4 Following a meeting the manager conducting the meeting may take one of the following courses of action, according to the circumstances of the case:

  • take no formal action.
  • give a formal written warning if there has been either a repeated minor breach in performance, or a first but more serious shortcoming in performance.
  • give a final written warning if there has been an insufficient response to previous warnings and performance is still unsatisfactory.
  • give the employee notice of dismissal if, following a final written warning, performance remains unsatisfactory and the employee still fails to reach or maintain the prescribed standards.
  • to dismiss the employee summarily without notice and without there having been any previous warnings under this procedure in cases of serious shortfalls in performance.

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6 Written Confirmation and Time Limits

6.1 Within one week of the meeting, the decision must be confirmed in writing to the employee. The letter must specify:

  • the level of the action taken (or the fact that no formal action was taken) and the reasons for that action;
  • any remedial action required of the employee and the consequences of any recurrence of unsatisfactory performance, including any dates for review (in the case of a first or final warning);
  • that the employee has a right of appeal and how to exercise that right (see paragraph 7);
  • in the case of a written warning, that the warning will be disregarded for further purposes under this procedure after six months (for a first warning) or twelve months (for a final warning), unless there are circumstances which justify a longer period and which are explained in the letter of confirmation.

6.2 Records of formal action will be held by Human Resources and by the relevant unit.

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7 Appeals

7.1 An employee has a right of appeal against any formal action under the formal Capability/Performance Procedure.

7.2 The right of appeal must be exercised within two weeks of receipt of the letter of confirmation of formal action under the formal Capability/Performance Procedure.

7.3 The appeal, stating the grounds on which it is made, must be in writing addressed to the Director of Human Resources.

7.4 An appeal will be heard by a panel comprising two senior managers who have had no previous involvement in the case. In the case of an appeal against a final warning or against dismissal, the panel will be drawn from members of the Senior Management Group from a different College/Service.

7.5 The University will aim for an appeal to be heard within four weeks of the appeal being lodged, unless otherwise agreed between the parties.

7.6 The appeal panel may:

  • uphold the action taken; or
  • withdraw the action taken; or
  • reduce the level of action taken.

7.7 The appeal will be a review of the decision taken by the manager conducting the meeting under paragraph 5 above. No new evidence may be presented to the Appeal Panel, nor any witnesses called, unless the Appeal Panel are satisfied that there are exceptional reasons why such evidence or witnesses were not produced at the formal meeting under paragraph 5 above, and/or that it is necessary in the interests of fairness, in reviewing the manager's decision, for the Appeal Panel to consider this evidence or hear from the witnesses concerned.

7.8 The decision of the appeal panel (communicated in writing to the employee) shall be final within the procedures of the University.

7.9 The procedure to be followed at appeal meetings is detailed in Ordinance 26.

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