Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure

I am absolutely sick and tired of reading on assorted pages on t’interweb about the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure or UPP.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully in favour of Unsatisfactory Performance being addressed under the right circumstances. I’m sure we’ve all worked with Shirkers, people who seem totally incapable of doing their job, the chap who always seems to be last to arrive on scene of a shout. People like that probably deserve a UPP, and I wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep over it.

What gets my goat is constantly reading about UPP being used against people who are clearly sick or injured. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t read on Twatter or Farcebook about someone who is long-term sick, possibly with cancer, or the results of an injury on duty. We all know people, I’m sure, who take a day’s Sick Leave because they can’t get time off, treat it like an extension to their Annual Leave. Those are not the people I’m referring to. The Stalwarts who would drag themselves in on a stretcher if they could. Those people. Those are the ones who should not be subjected to UPP.To be fair I have only plundered one Force’s Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures Policy, but I imagine they should all be very similar, and it has this to say about Unsatisfactory Performance due to health reasons;

Where performance issues may be due to ill health then a medical review can be put into
action. The line manager should contact the HR Officer for further advice and guidance.
The purpose of the medical review will be to determine if the employee is: –

  • Fit for work.
  • Fit for employment but not for that particular job.
  • Fit for employment but with reasonable adjustments.
  • Permanently unfit.


The medical prognosis will dictate the next course of action. Where the employee is deemed fit to work then poor performance is likely to be due to another factor. Where the employee is deemed permanently unfit, then ill-health retirement may be considered. The HR Officer should be consulted. Sometimes the medical review will determine the employee fit for work but unfit for a specific job. In these circumstances consult the HR Officer so that arrangements can be put into place to look for a suitable alternative role within the Force. Sometimes the medical review may identify that the employee’s performance is affected by disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010, i.e. physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on an individual’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities. In these circumstances, reasonable adjustment such as the acquisition of a specific piece of equipment, or working shorter hours should be explored. Employees should not be discriminated against because of their disability. Dismissal should only be contemplated when the cause of a poor performance cannot be mitigated by making reasonable adjustment/s.

So, there we have it in blue and white, UPPs may be instigated by ill health, but that should only be the beginning, not the means to the end.  And it clearly states that persons may be identified as having a disability which is hindering their best efforts to do their job.  Such employees should not be discriminated against on the grounds of their disability.

I have heard several stories (albeit only one side of the side of the story) where the person has a long-term condition such as cancer, and is feeling discriminated against by virtue of UPPs.

This really needs to stop.  In my head this is tantamount to bullying.  Bullying someone who is already fighting a tough and personal battle. The Job should be supporting them, not trying to force them out.  If Medical Retirement is the appropriate course of action, then that is a decision for a Medical Professional, not an HR Manager, or angry Chief Inspector (or DCC in some cases), and it brings with it the appropriate benefits. The criteria are quite clear.

Stop the bullying and support your staff. UPP on health grounds is not the way to avoid cuts elsewhere, Do It Right.