Dismissing employees

Dismissals on capability grounds


Sometimes an employee is incapable of doing their job to the required standard. This may be because they don't have the right skills or aptitude for the job.

They may also be capable of doing their job, but unwilling or reluctant to do it properly. In these particular circumstances, you would deal with the issue as one of misconduct and follow your company disciplinary procedures and the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedures (if they apply). Otherwise capability is a separate dismissal category to misconduct. See the page in this guide on dismissals on conduct grounds.

In most cases involving capability, you can help an employee improve by taking informal action, eg by offering training/mentoring or another suitable job (you would only redeploy to another suitable job if this is something that they agree to at this stage).

Capability dismissals: lack of skills/aptitude

To ensure that any resulting capability dismissal is fair, when formal action is taken - you should:

  1. Inform the employee in writing of the performance issues that exist and invite them to a meeting to discuss these issues.
  2. Following the meeting, give an employee who is found to be performing unsatisfactorily a written note, as a summary and explanation ideally, setting out the performance problems identified at the meeting, the improvement that is required, a reasonable timescale for achieving this improvement, a review date and any identified measures of support you will provide to assist them meeting the required standards.
  3. Inform your employee that the note represents the first stage of a formal procedure and that failure to improve could lead to a final written warning and, ultimately, dismissal. You should keep a copy of the note and use it as the basis for monitoring and reviewing performance over the specified timescale - see managing staff performance. You should also inform the employee that they may appeal at any stage of the formal process.
  4. If there is a failure to improve in the timescale outlined, repeat the above procedure and issue a final written warning.
  5. If again there is a failure to improve within the timescale set out in the final written warning, this may result in dismissal.
  6. Finally, you should note that some exceptional acts of incapability can merit summary dismissal.
  7. Throughout the formal process, employees have the right to be accompanied to all meetings and appeal meetings and to appeal to a more senior manager - ideally one not involved in the initial meetings. To read more on the right to be accompanied, read the LRA Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
  • LRA Workplace Information Service
    03300 555 300
Developed with:
  • Department for the Economy
  • LRA