General practice tool kit

Your practice team

Managing employees’ performance

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Performance reviews

Schedule a regular performance review (at least annually) for each member of your staff so that you both fully understand each other’s expectations and requirements. For example, you can use the performance review to identify and plan goals and professional development and discuss ways the practice can make better use of their skills.

Each review must be conducted confidentially, during normal work hours, and be fully documented. You must provide a copy to the employee.

Alternatively, conduct more frequent and less formal meetings to discuss work progress and to allow each party to raise any issues, ideas or feedback. These meetings must also be scheduled during work hours and documented.

Some practices have annual reviews of staff as well as more frequent and less formal meetings during the year.

RACGP Standards

C3.2 A All members of our practice team understand their role in the practice.
C3.2 C Our practice inducts new members of the practice team and familiarises them with our systems and processes.

View the standards >

Underperformance can include:

  • failure to carry out duties to the standard expected
  • non-compliance with policy and procedures
  • unacceptable workplace behaviour.

Managing underperformance should be done as soon as the underperformance is identified, rather than in the next scheduled performance review, which might be weeks or months away.

When discussing underperformance, adopt a collaborative approach, rather than a dictatorial or disciplinary-based approach, so that you’re working with your employee, rather than imposing commands and ultimatums. This will produce a better outcome for you, your employee, and your practice.

Legal obligations

You must document all meetings and outcomes related to the underperformance, and provide the employee with a copy.

Fair Work have a number of performance management templates, and several resources available to help you manage employee underperformance and meet your obligations.

RACGP Standards

C3.2 B Our practice has performance discussions with each team member.

View the standards >

Disputes can happen in any workplace, and need to be managed quickly and fairly. Whether the dispute is between employees, or one or more employees and the employer, an effective resolution will help your practice continue to function effectively.

See Fair Work – Effective dispute resolution.

If you need to discipline an employee for a breach of policy or for other unacceptable conduct, take action as soon as possible, and adopt a collaborative approach to help you and the employee reach the best possible outcome.

Legal obligations

Whatever disciplinary action you take, you must adhere to your legal obligations, including preparing documentation of:

  • the action you have taken (eg a meeting, a written warning)
  • agreed action (eg training to be completed, counselling to be received, specific goals such as arriving on time every day for two weeks)
  • any subsequent outcome (eg continued misconduct, improvements in behaviour, achievement of specified goals). 

Terminating an employee should be a last resort, taken only after all other reasonable steps to address an employee’s performance or conduct have not been successful.

Legal obligations

Before terminating an employee, you are legally required to work through a formal process which includes giving the employee an opportunity to improve. All actions that might, or do, lead to a termination must be documented and meet a number of legal requirements.

Seek professional legal and/or HR advice if you believe that you are working towards terminating an employee, and if you have decided to terminate an employee.

See Fair Work – Ending employment.

Under the relevant Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, AHPRA-registered practitioners must report ‘notifiable conduct’ of another registered health practitioner.

Notifiable conduct is defined as one or more of the following:

  • practising whilst intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of drugs
  • sexual misconduct in the practice of the profession
  • placing the public at risk of substantial harm because of an impairment (health issue)
  • placing the public at risk because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards.

See the AHPRA website for further information on the National Law and reporting obligations. Consider seeking MDO advice about your reporting obligations.

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