The purpose of this guidance is to provide managers and staff with further information on how to apply this procedure. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Initial Service Review Procedure.
Under this guidance, the term 'manager' or 'line manager' refers to a Head of School/Division or other individual who has been given delegated responsibility for the day-to-day management of a member of staff by the Head of School/Division.
In line with the Ordinance, the Head of School/Division may delegate their formal role under the procedure, where appropriate (see Section 3: procedural issues).
Responsible for convening and servicing appeal panels in accordance with the procedure.
Following initial induction, there should be regular informal one-to-one review meetings between the member of staff and their line manager/supervisor throughout the Initial Service Review period. The meetings should be a mix of two agenda – the line manager’s and the employee’s. The initial meeting is likely to focus on the manager providing guidance and information to the new employee, but subsequent meetings should provide an opportunity to share information, set objectives, review progress, discuss and address concerns and identify and plan for any further training and development needs:
The order and content of discussions will naturally vary according to the situation, but a possible structure for the meeting could be as follows:
Where areas of concern are identified, it is important that these are raised as soon as possible (also see Section 6: Informal Action). If the line manager considers that there are serious gaps in performance or has concerns about conduct, advice should be sought from the appropriate Faculty HR Manager at the earliest possible opportunity.
In the normal course of events, in addition to the regular informal meetings, two formal reviews should take place during the initial service review period (See Section 4 of Ordinance 25: Initial Service Review procedure). These should normally take place first at the half-way stage and then again towards the end of the initial service review period. HR will prompt Heads of School/Division when a formal review is due and towards the end of the ISR period, will request a brief report. This report will seek confirmation of whether the employee’s progress has been satisfactory such that they can be considered to have successfully completed their initial service review period.
In determining whether or not progress has been satisfactory, managers may find it helpful to consider the following factors (although this is not an exhaustive list):
What have the frequency, duration and pattern of any period(s) of absence been? What were the reasons for this? If concerns regarding attendance have been identified due to sickness, managers may find it helpful to refer to the University’s Sickness Absence Guidance. Where absence is unauthorised/absence reporting procedures have not been correctly followed, this may be regarded as a potential conduct issue. Advice should be obtained from the Faculty HR Manager as appropriate.
This does not just cover the question of arrival and readiness to begin work at agreed start times but also returning from breaks, attendance at meetings at agreed times, etc.
Has the employee’s behaviour been acceptable and in line with the University’s rules of conduct for members of staff? This will be typically be evidenced by an absence of problems or negative feedback from colleagues, clients, students, etc.
In the course of carrying out their work, has the employee demonstrated an appropriate understanding and observation of relevant University rules, regulations, codes of practice, policies and procedures?
Depending on the nature of the role and duties associated with it, it may or may not be possible to measure full performance in the role by the end of an initial service review period. In some cases, where tasks are relatively short-term and occur frequently, this will be reasonably straight-forward to assess. In other cases, tasks may occur far less frequently and outputs take longer to become evident. In terms of performance therefore, managers are being asked to assess progress in terms of what could reasonably be expected to have been achieved by this stage, and to make an overall judgement on general levels of performance. In looking at evidence of this, it may be helpful to focus on the following areas:
The structure and approach to the meeting should operate along the same lines as the suggested outline for the informal review meetings (see previous section). However, since the purpose at this stage is also to make a formal assessment of whether satisfactory progress has been achieved, it is necessary to take more of an overview of progress (in terms of the factors outlined above) looking at the whole initial service review period to date. Where a manager has concerns about an employee’s progress, they should contact their Faculty Personnel Manager for advice in advance of the formal review meeting with the employee.
Where all aspects of progress are satisfactory at the half-way stage, no further formal action is required. Progress should continue to be monitored and regular informal one-to-one review meetings between the member of staff and their line manager should continue to take place throughout the remaining initial service review period. Towards the end of the individual's ISR period, managers will be asked to complete a brief report. Where all aspects of progress are satisfactory, such that the employee is considered to have completed their ISR period, this should be confirmed on the report and returned to HR. It is also good practice to continue to hold regular one-to-one meetings with staff throughout their employment.
If the review highlights problems such that the manager is unable to confirm that the employee has successfully completed the half-way stage or whole of their initial service review period, the manager should contact their Faculty Personnel Manager for advice on what informal/formal action should now be taken under the procedure. Advice should be sought as early as possible.
Where the performance or conduct of an employee is causing concern during the initial service review period, the manager’s first step will usually be to discuss the problem with the employee, as soon as possible. (See Section 6 of Ordinance 25: Initial Service Review Procedure). This will typically occur as part of the regular informal review meetings as detailed above. However, where problems arise, it may be particularly helpful to be aware of the following points:
When setting up informal discussions under the procedure, the manager should ensure that the individual is notified of the date, time, purpose and location of the meeting in writing (or by email) in good time so that the individual can prepare for the meeting (usually 2 working days’ notice as a minimum should be given).
An individual may ask if they can bring along a representative to informal meetings, and while this is not part of the procedure, managers need to be aware that there is a legal requirement to allow representation where disciplinary action may be taken. Where a manager is concerned, advice should be sought from the HR Manager. The manager should ensure that adequate time is set aside for the meeting, and that the discussions will be held in uninterrupted privacy.
The manager should ensure that they clearly explain the purpose and structure of the discussion, and that the individual has an opportunity to raise any issues that are of concern to them. The manager should explain that there are concerns about the employee’s ability to meet the requirements of the initial service review period, clearly communicating the situation/problem to the member of staff. Using observations and examples, the manager should explain precisely what the 'gap' is perceived to be between existing levels of conduct or performance and the required standards, explore possible explanations for this and agree a plan of action. It may be helpful to refer back to the job description/expectations/deadlines agreed as part of the induction programme/previous meetings to help explain where performance is falling short. The manager should set clear performance targets and timescales for improvement. At all stages throughout this procedure, the targets set must be 'SMART' – specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable and time-bound (see above).
The manager must explore what further information/training/support might be appropriate and discuss how this might be delivered. They should also consider whether additional equipment/facilities might reasonably be provided, and whether changes to workload or re-allocation of tasks might be appropriate.
The manager should agree with the individual a timescale for review and advise them of the potential consequences of a failure to improve (ie formal action may be taken under this procedure).
Whilst the meeting is an informal one, the manager should nonetheless ensure that a note is kept of the meeting, and of agreed outcomes, targets, review date, etc, and that this is sent to the individual after the meeting.
Before convening a formal hearing, the manager should gather appropriate further information, following advice from the Faculty HR Manager. When dealing with issues of misconduct, it will normally be essential to have conducted appropriate investigations before convening a formal hearing.
The manager will need to determine whether they should involve another member of staff in the hearing. This might be the supervisor or immediate line manager who may be much closer to the detail of the case. It is good practice to use the following format:
Where appropriate, the manager should also consider what “SMART” targets (see above) should be defined for the individual, and the implications if they do not meet the targets. The manager/ HR Manager should also consider what support/ training etc should be offered to the individual to assist them in meeting the targets.
Hearing to reconvene and the manager to convey their decision to the individual.
The manager and individual should discuss any targets and timescales for their achievement. The arrangements for regular reviews of performance, and the training/ support to be offered should also be discussed. The manager will advise the individual of the duration of any Warning/ Extension of initial service review period, and the implications of failure to achieve the improvements specified.
Where the decision is dismissal, HR will formally notify the individual of the effective date of the termination of their employment.
Preparation and investigations before any Hearing are the key to ensuring that appropriate outcomes are established. Ensuring that the Manager has as full and factual account of the situation as possible is crucial. It may transpire that formal action is not appropriate under the circumstances – it is always better for everyone that this is decided before a hearing is convened rather than in the course of the hearing!
Follow up responsibilities and Actions:
Head of School/Division/Line Manager (where the Head of School/Division/ Line Manager has heard the case)
Responsible for ensuring that the individual is properly notified of the outcome of any hearing, in writing giving:
The Head of School/Division/ Line Manager is also responsible for ensuring that the individual receives a note of the hearing; for ensuring that on-going performance is monitored appropriately; for establishing the agreed review meetings and conducting them appropriately; for ensuring that requirements remain consistent with those outlined in the letter above; for ensuring that any agreed support, training or other assistance is provided within agreed timescales; for initiating further action under this procedure where performance does not meet the required standards.
Responsible for ensuring that the individual is properly notified of the decision, in accordance with the procedure; responsible for ensuring that the individual receives a note of the hearing; responsible for assisting and advising the Head of School/Division/ Line Manager in their follow-up responsibilities; responsible for ensuring ongoing fairness and consistency in relation to the case.
Responsible for trying to achieve the targets and improvements outlined; responsible for taking up any follow up action agreed between themselves and the Head of School/Division/Line Manager (e.g. training, support etc); responsible for ensuring that the Head of School/Division/Line Manager is provided with any information relevant to their ongoing performance.
HR have a responsibility to advise the Head of School/Division, Line Manager or individual on all aspects of this procedure
Trades Unions can advise individuals on all aspects of this procedure, and may represent/ accompany the individual at meetings/ hearings.
Updated 3 April 2013 by Human Resources
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TH, UK. Tel: +44 (0)117 928 9000