How easy is it for an employer to dismiss you for poor performance?
Your lack of performance at work, or “capability” as it it known under employment legislation, is something that can trigger a dismissal.
An essential ingredient required to make such a dismissal fair, however, is to follow a proper dismissal process. If therefore your employer would otherwise have a good reason to dismiss you on capability grounds, but fails to carry out a fair procedure, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal.
Under the ACAS Code of Practice, if your employer has concerns about your performance, they should inform you of it and give you an opportunity to improve, as well as providing support and assistance in allowing you to do so. You should be provided with a number of warnings (usually, verbal, followed by one written and one final). If there are objectives to be set, these need to be made clear to you and they should not be unachievable.
If a performance programme is coupled with disciplinary proceedings where you could be dismissed, you should be informed in writing of this in advance.
Of course, this assumes that there is genuinely poor performance. In some cases, employers will use this as a bogus reason to try to dismiss you. If this happens, the question of process is only part of the issue- a more fundamental one is that there were no grounds to suggest there was poor performance in the first place.