The difference between poor work performance and misconduct

Mar 8, 2017

Many employers confuse poor performance with misconduct and vice versa. This can only mean that these employers are not dealing with poor performance and misconduct correctly and they are exposing themselves to labour disputes.
Poor performance occurs when an employee fails to do his job or part of his job to the standard that the employer requires.
The focus is on the quality or quantity of the employee’s work as compared to what the employer expects in respect of his behaviour. The focus may also be on the speed of the work or whether the employee is keeping to set deadlines.
Misconduct, on the other hand, occurs when an employee’s behaviour is unacceptable or in breach of workplace rules.
If an employer has reasonable workplace rules about time keeping, attendance, honesty, safety or other conduct, the employee must adhere to them. If the employee fails to do so, he is committing misconduct.
Because poor performance and misconduct differ, the procedures for dealing with them are also different.
If an employee’s misconduct is serious and if dismissal is possible, the employer needs to hold a disciplinary enquiry. When it comes to poor performance, the employer must follow a poor performance management procedure. If poor performance persists after a reasonable period of time, a disciplinary enquiry for poor work performance must be instituted.
Knowing the difference between poor performance and misconduct will ensure that employers deal with them correctly and avoid legal comebacks.

Disclaimer: LabourMan exclusively provides services to employers.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on or 021 556 1075 to speak to one of our consultants.


Wallace Albertyn

Wallace Albertyn is a Senior Associate and Legal Advisor at LabourMan Consultants.

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