How am I doing? To appraise or not to appraise

Who would have thought that performance appraisals would emerge as a hot topic in employment law? Yes it is true, this area of employment is emerging as an area with which employees are becoming increasingly disgruntled.

Recently I have received cases where the fact of having no appraisal at all is being tacked onto any personal grievance that comes through the door, in the same way that having no signed employment agreement has done in the past. I am pleased to advise that employers mostly seem to be great now at having a signed individual employment agreement for each of their employees, one which they can produce on demand.

Not so with performance appraisals. Let me give some examples of the type of actions that are attracting negative attention.

EXAMPLE 1: The employer sets time and place for the appraisal. The employee prepares with examples of his best work throughout the period. The employer enters the room and before sitting down says, well there is no money. (She knew previously that he was interested in a pay increase). The employer then proceeded to castigate the employee for failing to show initiative in raising money-making opportunities despite this not being his main area of work. The interview, over more than one hour, was a bombastic tirade by the employer regarding the poor financial situation the business was in and how that must be alleviated. No attention was paid to the work provided for assessment., or indeed to the employee’s work at all.

EXAMPLE 2: The employment agreement says appraisals will be conducted annually and the employee is expected to participate if required. The employer is too busy to undertake the appraisals. Clearly with 22 staff the employer needed to have set time into the diary at the beginning of the year. 22 hours is a lot of time and needs to be allocated as a priority.

EXAMPLE 3: The employee is assessed on things that are not in the Position Description. “Oh well things do vary overtime”, says the employer. That may be the case but one would expect the employee to know of the changes or the change of emphasis given to certain tasks.

MORAL OF THE DAY: Timetable next years’ appraisals into the diary today, or at least before the end of the year. I say today because it gets a bit busy from here on. It is a simple task that can avoid additional aggravation in an employment that has soured.

Glenys Steele LLB, Director, About Best Practice Ltd Employment Law. Ph 07 854 3384 or 027 6996 953, email,