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This guidance supports staff and institutions in implementing the Capability Policy and provides information on good practice. It is not University policy and does not form part of employees' terms and conditions of employment.

Defining Capability

Capability refers to an employee's ability to perform the work expected of them to the required standards. This may be assessed by reference to an employee's skill, aptitude, health or any other physical or mental quality in relation to the job that they are employed to do.

A lack of capability (also defined in this guidance as underperformance) exists where an employee is not performing the job to the standard required. The Capability Policy provides a framework to address underperformance where this appears to be due to an employee's capability to do their job rather than conduct or behaviour i.e. in broad terms the employee ‘can't’ rather than ‘won't’ do something (see Selecting the appropriate procedure).

It should be recognised that capability problems may be outside the employee's direct control and may be symptomatic of underlying work problems or other personal issues. Very few employees choose to perform their work badly, make mistakes or fail to complete tasks. Consequently in the event that an employee is underperforming, a manager should examine the circumstances to identify underlying causes and give support to the employee to help them to improve to the required standard of performance. Particular care should be taken when disability or health issues are involved and advice should be sought from the Occupational Health Service and HR Division as appropriate.

Appropriate action should be taken promptly as soon as it is noticed that an employee is not performing certain aspects of their job satisfactorily. Delaying or doing nothing may cause the performance problem to escalate and cause delay in providing the necessary support to the individual. Further guidance on timescales is provided.