Procedure for addressing under- and unsatisfactory performance at faculty level
(For staff on academic conditions of service)
This procedure needs to be read in conjunction with "Performance management processes for academic staff".
"Under-performance" is performance which is below the desired standard for the staff member's rank and for which increases in remuneration levels may be withheld. Under-performance which is not corrected once identified may become unsatisfactory performance in due course.
"Unsatisfactory performance" means performance below the level acceptable for continued employment at the rank at which the staff member is currently appointed, or in some instances, in any academic post.
The first objective of this procedure is to correct and/or improve under- or unsatisfactory performance. But because unsatisfactory performance may persist, the second objective is to provide for the termination of the employment contract when this happens.
This procedure is to be used in cases of under- or unsatisfactory performance. Misconduct is a separate issue and must be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure. Under- or unsatisfactory performance may be attributable to lack of appropriate skills, incomplete knowledge, lack of experience, and/or lack of commitment. It may or may not be capable of being remedied.
Where the Head of Department (HOD) believes that a staff member is failing to meet the agreed performance criteria, a formal performance assessment must be held, even if it is not a scheduled annual assessment.
If, in the performance assessment, the HOD finds one or more area/s of performance to be unacceptable then the HOD will report this to the Dean.
If the Dean does not concur with the HOD's assessment, the Dean will counsel the HOD and the staff member.
If the Dean considers that there is prima facie evidence of under- or unsatisfactory performance, the Dean will appoint a Faculty Ad Hoc Committee to consider the staff member's performance.
- The Faculty Ad Hoc Committee (The FC)
The committee will comprise of 3 members appointed by the Dean from a panel of staff appointed by the Faculty Board for this purpose. The committee shall elect a chair from its members.
- The evaluation meeting
The HOD will report on the performance of the staff member. The staff member will be given the opportunity to respond to the HOD's allegations of either under- or unsatisfactory performance at a meeting convened by the FC.
The staff member has the right to be assisted by a representative of his/her choice at the meeting/s of the FC as long as the representative is a UCT staff member. Should a staff member elect not to have a representative this must be recorded in the notes of the meeting made by the Chair of the FC.
After considering the evidence, the FC will give a decision on the performance assessment.
If the FC confirms the allegations of under- or unsatisfactory performance, the Committee must ask the HOD plus a nominated member of the FC to initiate a Performance Monitoring Meeting (PMM).
If the FC does not confirm the allegations of under- or unsatisfactory performance the FC will counsel the HOD and the staff member.
- The Performance Monitoring Meeting (PMM)
The number of PMMs is not prescribed by this procedure but rather depends on the circumstances of each case. The number of PMMs may be indicated by factors such as the degree of under- or unsatisfactory performance and the possible consequences for the University. The process described below suggests two meetings but this is an example. The number of meetings will not normally be fixed, but the number judged necessary will be decided as the process unfolds.
- Preliminaries to the first PMM
Where the FC concurs with the HOD's assessment of under- or unsatisfactory performance, the Chair of the FC shall inform the staff member that he/she is required to attend a meeting to discuss a Performance Improvement Plan. This meeting shall be held as soon as possible after the FC has completed a written assessment of the staff member's performance. Sufficient notice (at least 3 working days) shall be given to the staff member.
The written report of the FC will be given to the staff member to help him/her to plan for the first PMM.
The staff member shall be informed that he/she has the right to be assisted by a representative of his/her choice at this and all subsequent PMMs provided that the representative is a UCT staff member. Should a staff member elect not to have a representative this must be recorded in the notes of the meeting made by the HOD.
If the representative of the staff member's choice is not available and if sufficient notice of the meeting has been given, the staff member has the option of finding an alternative representative before the scheduled meeting or proceeding without a representative.
- The first PMM: Performance Improvement Plan
The purpose of the first PMM is to enable the FC's Nominee (FCN) and the HOD to put in place a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). The FCN and HOD are ultimately responsible for devising the PIP, but must consult the staff member before finalising this.
The necessary steps required to overcome the weaknesses identified in the FC's report should be discussed, and where possible agreed to. A PIP shall be drawn up by the FCN/HOD and the staff member for a specific course of action, and be documented. A copy of the PIP shall be given to the staff member.
A date for a follow-up PMM shall be set to review the staff member's performance. The period between meetings depends on the nature of the work performed, the period over which performance can be measured, the seriousness of the under- or unsatisfactory performance, and the amount of time and support judged necessary (anticipated) to rectify the under- or unsatisfactory performance. This could be as short as a few weeks or as long as three years.
Informal feedback between the formal reviews should take place. Where the staff member asks for additional formal or informal meetings (e.g. for extra help), these should be arranged unless the requests are unreasonable.
In the case of unsatisfactory performance, and where the FCN/HOD believes that the staff member may be unable and/or unwilling, in a reasonable period of time, to do what is necessary to improve to adequate levels of performance, the FCN/HOD shall indicate the possibility of the employment contract being terminated.
Where the FCN/HOD has warned that the employment contract could be terminated should there be insufficient improvement in performance, the FCN/HOD shall put this in writing to the staff member, indicating that if performance does not improve, the matter would be referred to a Committee of Review (COR).
- The second PMM: Review of Performance Improvement Plan
Regardless of whether performance has improved, remained the same or deteriorated, the follow-up meeting shall take place on the scheduled date, or within 3 weeks of the scheduled date if either staff member or the FCN/HOD has to change the prior arrangement.
A written review of progress against the PIP shall be completed by the FCN/HOD, and given to the staff member after discussion with him/her.
If performance has improved to an acceptable level, the Annual Review with the HOD and subsequent performance assessment by the HOD, will be used for further feedback. This would mark an end to the use of the Under- or Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure in this episode.
If performance has improved but has still not improved to an acceptable level, the FCN/HOD shall substantiate any remaining areas of under- or unsatisfactory performance and give the staff member an opportunity to respond. A date to assess performance again shall be set. Informal feedback between the formal meetings should take place. Where the staff member asks for additional formal or informal meetings (e.g. for extra help), these should be arranged unless the requests are unreasonable. Under performance which is not corrected, may become unsatisfactory performance in due course.
If the FCN/HOD finds that the staff member's performance has not improved to an acceptable level, and believes that despite being given an opportunity to do so, performance is unsatisfactory because:
- the staff member is unwilling to do what is necessary to improve to adequate levels of performance; or
- the staff member is unable, or unable in a reasonable period of time, to do what is necessary to improve to adequate levels of performance; then the FCN/HOD shall ask the Vice Chancellor to establish a COR. The procedure for addressing unsatisfactory performance at the central level i.e. the procedure for a Committee of Review, will thereafter be followed.
- Preliminaries to the first PMM
Page last updated: 5 July 2012