As an employer should I impose an employee assessment scheme?

Employee assessment scheme

Many employers implement a scheme whereby they can assess their employees. This may be done when an employee first joins the company, for example new employees may be put on a probationary period for a certain amount of time. Following the completion of the period they will be subject to an employee assessment. Other employees feel the need to continually assess their employees throughout their employment as they feel that this is imperative to understand the performance of their workforce.

Is there a legal obligation placed on employers to assess their employees?

There is no legal requirement on an employer to have a system in place in order to appraise and assess their employees.

If there is no legal obligation, why is this necessary?

Despite their being no legal obligation on employers to impose such a scheme, there are however, clear benefits to putting a system in place. They are as follows:

  • If an employee knows they are being assessed they will focus directly on the work they are required to do – this will not only enable the employee to progress but productivity will also be high
  • An employee assessment will give the managers and supervisors to the chance to assess an employees’ work
  • Both short term and long term action plans can be created for an employee – both the employee and the supervisor or manager can be involved in this process, often an employee will work better towards a target which they themselves have been involved in setting
  • Vital feedback will be provided to the employee – this will often cause they to feel encouraged and focused on the work, thus increasing productivity
  • If the employee continually performs well during their assessment period it will provide them with possibilities for promotion and growth in their career – if the employee is aware of this during the assessment they are much more likely to be focused which in turn will increase the productivity of the company

Are there any legal considerations that I should take into account when implementing an employee assessment scheme?

There may be no legal obligation on an employer to implement an employee assessment scheme but there are certain legal issues that must be taken into consideration when implementing the scheme.

The following legal issues must be taken into consideration:

  • Trade Unions
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Discrimination Law

Trade Unions

For those employers who recognise trade unions, they must – if a request is made by the union – disclose information for the purposes of collective bargaining, particularly in the situation where performance is linked to pay.

Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act 1998 covers the processing and use of personal information. An employee is able to make a request under the Data Protection Act to know the information which is kept about them. An employer can charge for this and they are also entitled to protect third parties, and withhold any information which might prejudice their business. However, if there is any information which is personal to that employee, the employee is able to view that information under the Data Protection Act.

There are also codes of practice which will help an employer in relation to information held about employees. They are as follows:

  • Code 1 – covering recruitment and selection
  • Code 2 – covering employment records
  • Code 3 – covering monitoring at work
  • Code 4 – covering information about the health of workers

Discrimination Law

Under the Race Relations Act 1976, the Sex Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 an employee who feels that they may have been refused promotion or access to training on grounds of their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation or due to their disability have a right to make a complaint to an employment tribunal.

When an employer undertakes an employment assessment all the above legal issues must be fully taken into consideration.

Is there anything else an employer should take into consideration when implementing an employee assessment scheme?

When an employee is implementing an employee assessment scheme the following issues should be taken into consideration:

  • Who should be assessed
  • Who should carry out the assessment
  • How frequently should the assessments be carried out
  • Whether the employees should be able to view their completed assessment forms

Individuals to be assessed

All employees of a particular company should be assessed. The reasoning behind this is that an employee may be able to improve their motivation at work. They will also be able to make certain suggestions and improvements to their superiors if they are in continual contact throughout the assessment. An employer will also be given the opportunity to make certain suggestions to an employee and provide them with certain areas of their job which may require more focus. An employee may be more willing to do this if they feel they have a say in how their job is run.

Individuals to undertake the assessment

In most cases it will be the immediate managers which will undertake assessments of particular employees. However, if a more senior member of staff undertakes the assessment it will give them the opportunity to full understand some of the issues felt by some of the staff. This will also give staff the chance to connect with their superiors to create a more harmonious working relationship  whenever they are required to carry out tasks for them.

Assessment frequency

Many employers will undertake assessments on a yearly basis but it is often better to carry out assessments on a continual basis in order to maintain a consistent productivity. However, this will often depend upon the nature of the employment and will be the decision of the individual employers.

Employees viewing their assessment forms

An employee should be given the opportunity to view their assessment. This will enable them to air their views as to whether they have been given a fair assessment and that the employer has adhered to various legal requirements. It may also give the employee an opportunity to learn where their strengths are and an opportunity to understand in which areas of their work they may need to improve.