One of my employees is underperforming. How long do I give them as a review period?

The answer to this question is that there’s no statutory time frame for improvements for underperformance.

Timescales for an employee’s improvement must be reasonable and will depend on the circumstances, including the employee’s role and position within your company and his or her length of service and past performance. In some cases, a review period of a few weeks may be sufficient – for tasks that are carried out every day, or for performance that can be seen every day, such as starting work on time. In others cases, a review period of several months may be more appropriate, for longer term activities such as sales.

When you agree to provide your employee with additional training or support, this will need to take place before their performance can sensibly be measured again. You should make sure that you monitor your employee’s performance during the relevant review period. The period should be long enough to allow you to assess whether or not your employee has made and sustained the necessary improvements.

The answer to this question will also be different for each different situation. If you have a member of staff whose performance needs to be reviewed, get in touch and we can talk about the situation, to help you work out the best way forward.

You can also find out more by watching one of my recent videos, by clicking here.

Do Employers have to Supply References for Employees?

As an employer, you might be asked for a reference for a member of staff who is leaving. You might also be asked to provide a reference by a bank or a landlord. You’re not obliged to provide one in any of these cases unless there is something in the contract to say you have agreed to do so. You can actually refuse to provide a reference as there is no statutory duty to do so for an existing or ex-employee.

Former employees

When one of your employees leaves, you will have to decide what to say to other employers who call for a reference. The decision could be straightforward if the employee is leaving on good terms, you can simply tell the whole glowing truth to any prospective employer who calls for a reference.

But if the employee left in difficult circumstances, you face a more difficult task. If you are not careful in your statements about former employees, you might find yourself being sued for defamation of character. If the employee who is leaving feels that you intentionally damaged his or her reputation by making negative statements about the employee, you could get into trouble. This would be a perticular problem if the employee lost their new job as a result of the reference you provided.

In all cases, it is best to have a set policy on giving references to include only basic information about the employee’s length of service, salary and position held. Your best policy is to say as little as possible and stick to facts you can prove.

Settlement Agreements

You may have an obligation to provide a reference for a former employee if it has agreed to do so under the terms of a settlement agreement (known as a ‘compromise agreement’ up to 29 July 2013). In these circumstances, specific wording to be included in the reference is sometimes agreed between the parties.


Question: Christmas is coming – Are Employees Who Work on Bank Holidays Entitled To Pay in Lieu or Additional Holidays?

Answer: This depends on the overall holiday entitlement and the terms of the employment contract. If the entitlement is the statutory minimum (which is 28 days including Bank Holidays) and an employee works on a Bank Holiday, they must have a day off in lieu so that the total paid leave stays at 28 days per year. This is for employees who work five days per week.

What about pay? If an employee is entitled to the day off on a Bank Holiday, then they will be entitled to their normal rate of pay for this, in the same way as they would for any other holiday. Contrary to popular belief, for those working on a Bank Holiday, there is no entitlement to extra pay, unless the terms of the person?s contract state otherwise. However, if employees are normally paid extra for working a Bank Holiday that should apply when additional public holiday days are announced too.

How about part-time employees?

Your obligation to part-time workers is governed by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favorable Treatment) Regulations 2000. This means that part-time workers are entitled to the same holidays as comparable full-time workers, but on a pro rata basis.

You must make sure that a part-time employee receives his or her pro rated entitlement if bank holidays are included in the employee’s statutory minimum holiday entitlement, or if you grant holiday that exceeds the statutory minimum to your full-time workers.

Because most bank holidays fall on a Monday or Friday, part-time employees who do not work on these days could be entitled to proportionately fewer days off compared with full-time employees.

To avoid a complaint of less favorable many employers provide part-time employees with a pro rated bank holiday entitlement. Te best option is to calculate pro rated bank holiday entitlement according to the number of hours that the part-time employee works, irrespective of whether or not he or she works on the days on which bank holidays fall.

We’re building up a bank of answers to questions we’re frequently asked. Click here to see the questions and answers on our website. If you have a question that you’d like us to answer, email us or give us a call in confidence.