Q: Would it be permissible to transfer a long-term part-time employee who is an average to poor performer to another role and replace that position with a full-time employee?
A: Unless there is an employment contract or collective-bargaining agreement that suggests otherwise, employers do have the ability to set an employee’s work hours and job duties based on business needs. In the situation you described, you have a poor performer whom you want to transfer to another position, enhance the job, and bring in another employee to do the work. We assume that you have been addressing the current incumbent’s poor performance issues and the job that you are moving the employee into will be more in line with his or her skills and hopefully provide an opportunity for the employee to be more successful on the job. If you have not addressed your performance concerns, now is the time to do so. Explain why the change is necessary and use the opportunity to discuss the employee’s career goals and development needs. It is critical that the employee receive feedback regarding performance and behavior, as this may continue into either role and should be addressed to correct the concerns or take progressive discipline as appropriate. Have these conversations before you announce the new employee transferring into the expanded position.
The employee may have questions regarding why you are taking a part-time position and turning it into a full-time one and may suggest that he or she could be successful in the job if allowed the additional time each day to complete the duties. Be prepared to address that and provide the employee with a copy of the expanded job duties and explain why he or she is not the right fit for that job. Having a direct and respectful conversation, with specific feedback and action plans to move forward, can go a long way to making the change successful.
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