Many Companies use Performance Improvement Plans, also known as a PIP or a Performance Action Plan, or a final written warning as a basis for terminating an employee. They are also used in an effort to push the employee to resign from employment thereby potentially denying the employee of items to which the employee would be entitled if they remained employed (i.e. bonus, vesting, matching, commissions, promotions, etc.). At times the employee is offered a severance package in lieu of moving forward with the action plan.
The employee is given a written document outlining the supposed issues with the employee’s performance and a set amount of time to supposedly fix or “cure” the problems with the employee’s performance. The written document sets forth the goals that must be met in order for the employee to keep their job. The document generally comes after the employee has received a written performance review. These poor performance reviews are generally given for the sole purpose of placing the employee on a performance plan (click here for more information on this topic).
So what should an employee do if they receive this type of plan/warning? Do they have any options?
Yes, employees should not simply accept the performance plan they have received. In fact, many times, these plans are given to long-time employees who have previously been top performers, but have recently objected to some apparent impropriety or violation of law. They are used to create a paper trail – a record – for termination of the employee who the employer would otherwise not have any reason to terminate.
Employees should take the following steps, among others,
- review the document given;
- sign acknowledging receipt only and not agreement with the content;
- be prepared to provide a written response;
- question the goals that have to be met: are they objective or subjective? can they truly be met?
- determine who will be deciding if the employee meets the terms;
- determine the timing to do so;
- find out what happens if the employee does not meet the goals;
- speak with legal counsel to determine if the employee has legal recourse for receipt of the performance plan and the employee’s rights and options
EMPLOYEES CAN TAKE ACTION WHILE THEY ARE STILL EMPLOYED AND DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THEY HAVE FAILED ON THE PERFORMANCE PLAN OR ARE FORCED TO RESIGN!!!!
Employees should not wait to seek counsel or assistance. If you have received a Performance Improvement/Action Plan or final warning and want to determine how you should proceed, contact Sheree Donath to schedule a consultation.