Three strikes rule a myth

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Why ‘three strikes, you’re out rule’ is a myth

By Robyn Molloy, CCIWA

Applying a one size fits all approach to performance management may seem like the easiest option, but it’s all about assessing the case at hand, says CCIWA employee relations adviser Erin Verzandvoort.

 “A lot of employers think there is a three strikes rule, but this is an old wives’ tale,” she says.

“There are no three warnings and then you’re out, it depends on the seriousness of the situation, whether it be conduct or performance.

“Depending on the seriousness, it may warrant a final written warning before termination for further breaches or it could warrant three or four warnings before resulting in termination.”

Verzandvoort says in in some performance management cases the process may need to be extended.

“We often get calls where the employee is dealing with mental health issues,” she says.

“That’s not to say an employer cannot performance manage in these circumstances, but we always recommend that the process is extended and that the employer provides additional support – both emotionally and professionally.”

Verzandvoort, who works at CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre (ERAC), says the centre receives 10 to 15 calls per day in relation to performance management.

“I think it is really important for employers to know that the purpose of the performance management process is not to get to termination quicker but rather to assist the employee to improve,” she says.

“Claims arising from a poorly handled performance management process could cost the employer far more than a solid process resulting in the improvement of the employee’s performance,” she says.

“Poor performance can include different areas including but not limited to, not meeting role expectations, breaches of policies and procedures and misconduct. The disciplinary process and the performance management process will often intertwine.”

She says the best advice is to call ERAC early in the process as every scenario is different.

Nicola Edwards