'Performance matrix’ dispute raises dismissal questions for HR

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Long-term employees at a Toronto English school have aired their grievances over a HR ‘performance matrix’ they say could be used later to their disadvantage.

The group of 25 Kaplan International school teachers and administrators commenced strike action on Monday, after contract negotiations with management broke down.

The teachers are disputing a contract clause allowing Kaplan to dismiss employees based on an internal ‘performance matrix’, which includes student ratings of teachers.

The Star reports the employees fear the job security implications, and that the school may use the clause proactively to oust them in favour of short-term contract workers.

They say the school has already used the performance matrix randomly and unpredictably to justify the dismissal of experienced and high quality teachers.

The staff, who are part of the Unifor Local 40 union, began to dispute the Kaplan management approach when a collective agreement expired in June 2014.

At the time, the school added a contract clause stating that seniority would determine the order of dismissals when the skill, ability and performance is equal.

However, the union claims this allows Kaplan to retain junior employees over long-term staff based on the smallest of performance evaluation differences.

The Star reports six members of staff have been dismissed in the past 18 months.

The Unifor union has said that the language used in the clause is ‘rare’ in a contract, and said it hoped that it would be applied fairly by the employer.

Kaplan has disputed the rationale for the strike, saying all the school wants is to make performance an element of reviews when assessing staffing requirements.

The teachers claim they are happy to make performance part of the matrix, but don’t want it to be the only reason for which they can be dismissed.

Kaplan is a leading provider of English language courses and other study abroad programs, and has over 45 schools in nine countries around the world.

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