Why follow up on employees who do not work well?
How to follow up on employees
What do you do if the follow up does not help?

In order to optimise business, it is important that employers address situations of poor employee performance, even if it may be uncomfortable. Poor performance includes not working to expectations, failure to keep deadlines and other cooperation problems. This article provides an overview of how employers should proceed in such circumstances, taking into consideration the relevant legislation in Norway.

Why follow up on employees who do not work well?

The follow-up process can be time consuming but offers advantages for both the employee and employer in question. It can lead to improvements in the employee's performance or give the employer sufficient grounds and documentation for dismissal.

In many cases in Norway, it is not the basis for dismissal that causes uncertainty, but the relevant documentation. It is also often the case that the employer has not confronted the employee and given them the opportunity to improve.

If the company has strong practices for following up on challenging employees, there is no need for assistance from lawyers because the follow up will lead to a positive change. Similarly, the termination process can be executed faster if such practices are already in place.

How to follow up on employees

Firstly, the employer should speak with the employee in question and try to establish the reason why expectations are not being met. It is helpful to address the issues directly, clarify what expectations and requirements have been set and give the employee the opportunity to express their opinions and make improvements.

It is also important to establish a clear plan during these discussions for regular meetings to review specific goals and tasks with clear deadlines and evaluate previous work.

If the employee points to a lack of aid or equipment, or the need for further training and guidance, the employer should attempt to provide support in this regard.

Secondly, the employer must document each step of the follow-up process. For example, the employer could send invitations for follow-up interviews by e-mail and write a summary afterwards. Minutes and summaries should be sent to the employee so that they can correct any errors.

If the employee has received sufficient time to improve upon the established issues but still does not work well, the employer may consider issuing a written warning. Before a warning is given, a meeting should be held between the employer and the employee where the employer explains the reason for the warning and the consequences if there is no improvement.

The employee should be allowed to bring a counsellor to the meeting and be given the opportunity to give their input in the meeting. The notice of the meeting should be sent in writing. Minutes from the meeting should also be taken. The decision to issue a written warning should only be made after such a meeting has taken place.

It is important to remember that a warning is restricted to the issues that are set out therein. This means that if a warning is given because the employee arrived late for work three times, they cannot be dismissed because of those three late arrivals.

If the employee continues to arrive late after the warning has been given, that would constitute new conditions to which the employer can respond, such as by giving notice. The previous warning will strengthen the basis for dismissal because the employee continued to make the same mistakes, even after they had been pointed out. However, there is no requirement for a warning to be given before a dismissal, although this does provide useful supporting evidence in such cases.

What do you do if the follow up does not help?

If the follow-up process does not lead to improvements, it may be relevant to consider dismissal. Legal expertise should be used to assess the grounds for the dismissal, the documentation and the risks involved.

In Norway, the threshold for dismissing an employee after the probationary period is high, and it is the employer who must document the basis for the dismissal. The employer should also consider whether there are alternatives to dismissal and how they can be implemented (eg, a reallocation of duties or position).

When implementing a dismissal, it is important to keep in mind the case processing rules in the Working Environment Act. These rules provide for an individual meeting with the employee before a possible dismissal is given and a review in which the employer's argument for the dismissal must be weighed against the disadvantages that the dismissal has for the employee. If the employer has maintained a robust follow-up process, this will help avoid risks that emerge during dismissal processes.

For further information on this topic please contact Ole Kristian Olsby or Lise Gran at Homble Olsby | Littler by telephone (+47 23 89 75 70) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Homble Olsby | Littler website can be accessed at www.homble-olsby.no.