What is a Performance Improvement Plan?
A Performance Improvement Plan (or ‘PIP’ as it is commonly known) is a process frequently used by employers where it is being alleged an employee has not carried out work to satisfactory standard. It is usually set out in writing for the employee to acknowledge and accept, and is often also coupled with a formal disciplinary process.
The PIP should:
- clearly and objectively set out where you are failing;
- set out the improvement expected of you using measurable objectives;
- state whether any support or training will be provided;
- provide for the timescales and frequency of reviews; and
- make clear what sanctions there will be if you fail to improve.
Although a PIP is usually presented to you by your employer as a means of “supporting and assisting you” in improving your performance, often the reality is that your line manager will have already decided that you are no longer right for the role. By following a PIP, your employer is ensuring that a correct process has been followed, and that you have been given you the chance to improve. This is what good performance management entails,and what an employment tribunal would expect as a minimum process.
If you do improve after being put on a PIP, then all well and good- assuming your relationship with your employer still remains intact. If on the other hand you fail the PIP, a correctly followed process will offer some good protection to an employer in respect of any unfair dismissal claim you may bring, especially where it based on an alleged failure of process.
From the employee’s perspective, the indignity of being put on a PIP in itself will often be enough to result in a breakdown of trust and confidence with their employer, especially where the PIP perceived to be totally without foundation. Indeed, in extreme cases where being placed on a PIP makes the continuing relationship untenable, it can amount to constructive dismissal. Legal advice should always be sought before going down this route, however.
If you do not you agree with the reasons for your being placed on a PIP, it is best that you register your objections sooner rather than later- otherwise your silence could be deemed to be an acknowledgment and acceptance by you of the process (namely that you are under performing).