Understanding Capability and Conduct

Having clear expectations of employee performance and managing these on a daily basis are critical success factors for every business.  A high performing business knows which employees are delivering and which are failing but addressing issues of underperformance is no easy task.

It can be difficult to establish if poor performance is due to inherent incapability or misconduct.

Capability refers to an employee’s skills, ability, aptitude and knowledge in relation to the job that he or she is employed to do.  The key feature of lack of capability is that it is not the employee’s fault. Very few employees choose to perform their work badly, make mistakes, fail to complete tasks or have poor relationships with colleagues or customers.

Misconduct refers to any behaviour that falls below that of the standard required by your business or behaviour which fundamentally breaches a contract of employment such as fraud, theft, damage of company property, harassment or bullying.  There is no legal definition of misconduct, it is very much dependant on the type of business you operate, the nature of work undertaken by your employees and the risks to your business.

A lack of capability exists where no matter how hard an employee tries, he or she is simply unable to perform the job to the standard required by the employer. If an employee fails to come up to the required standard as a result of his or her own carelessness, negligence or idleness, this will not constitute incapability, but could be regarded as misconduct.

One of the key distinctions between capability and conduct is that lack of capability will usually be outside the employee’s direct control, while the same employee obviously will have control over his or her conduct at work.

To find out more about managing capability and conduct issues and the ways in which these can be dealt with to ensure that employees are treated fairly and reasonably whilst preserving the interests of your business read the latest copy of our Working Together newsletter.