Name of Policy: CAPABILITY PROCEDURE
This policy contains rights and/or responsibilities for all groups marked ‘++’ in
the table below. It will be of interest to any groups marked ‘+’.
Clients Employees Volunteers Contractors Trustees Donors Public
++ ++ ++
2 Informal Stage
2.1 Where a line manager believes that a worker might be having difficulties in
carrying out the duties of the job because of incapability e.g. does not have
adequate level of skill or aptitude or by reference to health, the line manager
should discuss the concerns with the worker informally without delay.
Records of all discussions about capability should be kept, signed by the line
manager and counter-signed by the worker.
2.2 The line manager should make all reasonable attempts to support the worker
in becoming capable, and establish whether there are any health-related
issues. Where health issues emerge, discuss with HR whether adjustments
need to be made in the working environment or individual’s work
programme, and/or a referral to Occupational Health. See also the Ill-Health
2.3 If there is a reasonable improvement in performance following these actions,
then the formal procedure below should not be invoked. If, however, there
is an insignificant rate of improvement or no improvement:
• Where the manager believes s/he has made reasonable efforts to support
the worker but the worker wilfully refuses to act, the manager should
contact HR with a view to initiating disciplinary action (this principle
applies at all stages in the Capability Procedure).
• Where the worker appears to be struggling in terms of skills or aptitude
despite trying to improve, the manager should contact HR to discuss
beginning the formal Capability Procedure.
3 First Formal Stage
3.1 Where, based on the evidence provided by the line manager, the HR
Manager is satisfied that the incapability is potentially genuine, the following
guidelines can be followed. The Centre will seek to treat each worker fairly
and compassionately, while attempting to minimise disruption to the work of
other workers in the department.
3.2 The Centre’s primary aim in the Capability Procedure is to obtain an
improvement in the worker’s performance, in a reasonable timescale. This
• The manager formally informing the worker (with support from the HR
manager) of where there is a shortfall in standards and why the Capability
Procedure has been invoked.
• Giving the worker an opportunity to provide an explanation at a meeting,
accompanied by a Union representative or friend.
• Giving the worker time and specific objectives (normally over a period of
one to three months, taking into account the contractual hours worked)
to achieve the required standard(s) and outlining the likely consequences
of failing to improve. Where practical, the worker will be offered
assistance in the form of training and/or closer supervision.
3.3 The manager should set out all the information referred to in 3.2 above in
letters to the worker before and after the meeting, sent by recorded delivery
to the worker’s home address. The HR manager will attend the meeting and
take minutes, which will be appended to the letter after the meeting and, if
the worker agrees, copied to the Union representative (assuming the worker
has chosen to be represented in this way).
3.4 If, despite these measures, there is a failure to improve or to maintain the
improvement at a level that the Centre finds acceptable, the worker will then
be informed of the nature of their continued unsatisfactory performance and
given an opportunity to provide an explanation. If the explanation is not
acceptable, the manager may move the worker to the next formal stage.
3.5 If there have been improvements, the manager may either cease the
Capability Procedure or maintain the worker at the current stage with
another set of timed objectives for improvement. If the latter course is
chosen, repeat the steps in this Stage.
4 Second Formal Stage
4.1 The steps in the First Formal Stage are to be repeated. The worker should
be advised of the likelihood of dismissal if the improvement objectives are
4.2 If, despite these measures, there is a failure to improve or to maintain the
improvement at a level that the Centre finds acceptable, a formal hearing will
take place with a panel consisting of two people, one of whom should be a
Director. If the case involves the Chief Executive, the Chair of the Trustees
plus one other Trustee will hold the hearing.
4.3 Wherever possible, the hearing should be arranged at a mutually convenient
time and confirmed in writing at least five working days before the hearing.
The letter will set out in writing the alleged conduct or characteristics that
have led the Centre to this point. In advance of the hearing the individual
should be advised of their right to be accompanied and provided with a
summary of the evidence to be considered. This will be in the form of a
report by the line manager, acting as the ‘investigating officer’ in the case.
4.4 At the hearing:
• The investigating officer (line manager), supported by the HR manager,
will present the case history, stating the nature of the worker’s continued
unsatisfactory performance, and indicating the grounds on which
capability is in doubt.
• The worker will be given an opportunity to provide an explanation.
• The panel may adjourn for a short period (e.g. 15 minutes) to make a
decision on the worker’s capability in the job.
4.5 If the panel believes that the worker is capable in the job, then the Centre
will regard the case as closed.
4.6 If the panel accepts the investigating officer’s case, then the Director will
issue notice of termination, which for an employee will be in line with the
contractual notice period. The notice period provides a last opportunity to
identify suitable alternative work if any exists. If efforts to find suitable
alternative work are unsuccessful, an employee’s last paid day will be at the
end of the notice period.
4.7 A worker will not normally be dismissed because of unsatisfactory job
performance unless a formal warning and an opportunity to improve have
5.1 Where a worker’s capability appears to be seriously affected by ill-health, the
• Make a thorough investigation of the worker’s medical condition and its
effect on the department, obtaining a medical report on the worker’s
condition through referral to Occupational Health (permission must be
sought first from the worker).
• Meet with the worker, in order to ascertain their own assessment of
their health and the likelihood of the worker’s ability to undertake their
duties to a level that the Centre finds acceptable. The worker may opt to
be accompanied by a Union representative or friend.
• Consider other options / possible solutions i.e. suitable alternative work,
return on a part-time basis, or early retirement on the grounds of ill
health where a full return to work is not possible.
5.2 The contract of employment will not be terminated on the grounds of ill-
health until this procedure has been exhausted.
6.1 A worker who wishes to appeal against a decision to dismiss on grounds of
capability should inform the Chief Executive of the Centre in writing within
ten working days of receiving the decision, detailing their grounds for appeal.
6.2 Appeals will normally be heard within twenty working days by the Chief
Executive and another Senior Manager, selected by the Chief Executive, who
was not involved in earlier stages of the process. Their decision is final.
6.3 If the Chief Executive was the investigating or dismissing officer, s/he cannot
hear the appeal. The Appeal panel in this case will be a Director, who has
not been involved in the process to date, plus one Trustee.
6.4 At the appeal hearing, the decision to dismiss will be reviewed and may be
confirmed or cancelled. The decision of the appeal panel will be put in
writing to the worker within three working days.
6.5 The worker has the right to attend the appeal hearing and if the worker so
wishes, his/her representative may be present. The investigating manager will
also be present. Witnesses may be called from either side.
Date Policy Adopted: October 2009
Date of Review: October 2010
Date of Next Review: