The Chartered of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has warned that Government plans to make it easier for employers to terminate under-performing staff contracts with new settlements could create more conflict and confusion.

The Government’s consultation draws to a close and commenting on the proposal, Employee Relations Adviser at the CIPD, Mike Emmott, said:

“There is a real danger that a measure intended to make things easier for employers could cause unnecessary arguments about what does and does not constitute a fair and legal approach to broaching the topic of poor performance with a member of staff.

“There are existing, well-used routes to managing poor performance, and effort would be better spent ensuring more employers understand and are able to make use of them.

“The reality is that many employers already make use of compromise agreements as a basis for terminating employment – and those that need more confidence to do so will be no more empowered by settlement agreements.”

In its response to the consultation, the CIPD has recommended an alternative to bringing in a new agreement. Mr Emmott said:

“We would propose instead of introducing a separate code on settlement agreements, to amend the Acas Code and guidance on disciplinary procedures to focus more clearly on promoting good practice in performance management. The consultation paper appears to rule this out.

“If settlement agreements become an excuse for not following basic good management practice – such as identifying performance issues and giving employees an opportunity to address them before moving to terminate their employment –employee engagement could well be undermined, to the detriment of productivity and competitiveness.”