A recent case in the NSW Personal Injury Commission has again highlighted the importance of providing appropriate notice of a performance management meeting after it was found that a surprise meeting resulted in a phycological injury to a worker.

The provision of appropriate notice of a performance management meeting is vital to a fair management process.

“Notice is to be provided for a few reasons.  Firstly so that the employee can arrange for a support person to be present if they choose, but also so that they can mentally prepare for the meeting” outlines ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski.

“Notice of the meeting is about more than that a meeting is happening, in order to prepare the employee must also be told broadly what the meeting is about” adds Elisha.

In the case at hand the employee was contacted by her manager and told that she was needed for a conference call with HR the next day.  On this initial call the employee asked her manager what the call was about, her manager refused to outline.

An hour before the call was to start the employee received an email outlining 9 points of misconduct that she was to respond to in the meeting.

The email included “open ended” allegations with no detail.  In the meeting the employee asked for further detail and more time to digest the email and prepare her response, this request was followed with an email suspending her.

While the business argued that it was not responsible for her stress injury because the action that gave rise to it was reasonable management action, the Commission found that being “presented with such accusations, which were without particularisation, shortly before a meeting, would have caused the [employee] shock, horror and confusion”.

“In this case the business argued that the employee was aware there were issues with her conduct based on casual conversations prior to the call, however the lack of clarity in calling the meeting, the lack of detail in the breach email and the knee jerk suspension all worked together to undermine the fair process and contributed to the phycological injury” adds Elisha.

“It is vital that businesses remember that no performance management process is fair unless it follows a full fair process” concludes Elisha.

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Here to Help

ACAPMA members are reminded that ACAPMA has a series of resources from Quick Reference Guides to template letters and investigation and reporting checklists that can assist with ensuring compliant and consistent responses in this area, and can call on the advice and support of the ACAPMA Employment Professionals via employment@acapma.com.au .

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business.

They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by emailing employment@acapma.com.au it’s free for members.

ACAPMA Membership is affordable at only $860 per year for a single site and valuable with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts.  Click here to learn more about ACAPMA Membership.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM &IR)