Performance improvement plans in the workplace – a quick guide for employees

by Redmans Solicitors on February 17, 2021

Performance improvement procedures (“PIPs”) are known by a variety of names: performance improvement plans, capability procedures, improvement plans, and more. This article explains what performance improvement procedures are, what your rights are, and what you should look out for if you’re participating in a PIP.

Links to further sources of information are included throughout this article, and we have included a ‘helpful guide’ to other articles you may wish to review at the end of this article

  1. What is a performance improvement process?
  2. Why do employers use performance improvement processes?
  3. What are your rights in a performance improvement process?
  4. What should you do if you’re in a performance improvement process?
  5. What steps will normally be followed in a performance improvement process?
  6. Other sources of information

What is a performance improvement process?

An employer will generally instigate a performance improvement process if it believes that you are underperforming at work – examples of poor performance could include not demonstrating particular skills, missing targets set or a failure to establish good working relationships with colleagues or customers.

Why do employers use performance improvement processes?

Employers use performance improvement processes if they think that you are not performing sufficiently well at work.

The primary purpose of a performance improvement process is, of course, to try and improve your performance at work to a level that your employer finds is acceptable. Should your performance not improve to the threshold required – and if your employer does not believe that it is likely to improve to such a level – then they may choose to dismiss you.

Another reason why employers use performance improvement processes is that, if you have the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal (if you have two or more years’ continuous employment), then if the employer fails to undertake a performance improvement process and then dismisses you it is likely that the dismissal will have been unfair. Employers will therefore normally follow a performance improvement process in order to limit the chances of a successful Employment Tribunal claim against them.

What are your rights in a performance improvement process?

You generally have the following rights in a performance improvement process (please note that this list is not exhaustive):

  1. To be provided with clear (objective) evidence of underperformance;
  2. To be given the time, resources and training to improve your performance;
  3. To receive feedback on your performance and how you are meeting targets; and
  4. To (normally) be given at least two warnings before being dismissed for poor performance (under the ACAS Code on Disciplinaries and Grievances)

What should you do if you’re in a performance improvement process?

If you are put into a performance process then you should normally take the following steps (again, please note that this list is not exhaustive):

  1. Record in writing what has happened and when in the process – make sure to record anything that you think is unfair in the process and ensure that the notes are as detailed as reasonably possible;
  2. Take good notes of any meetings;
  3. Raise any complaints that you have with the process in writing with your employer;
  4. Comply as much as you reasonably can with the process – a lack of cooperation with the process can give your employer cause to dismiss you and may weaken your leverage; and
  5. Appeal any decision if it goes against you (whether it is a formal warning or dismissal) – there is always the chance that your appeal will be upheld

What steps will normally be followed in a performance improvement process?

The followings steps should normally be followed by an employer in a performance improvement process:

  1. Your employer should inform you of the nature of the alleged shortcoming with your performance (and also provide you with evidence of such);
  2. Arrange a meeting to discuss the areas of underperformance and to set you targets for you to meet
  3. Provide you with a summary of any relevant information and any relevant documents
  4. Provide you with details of what the performance improvement process will be;
  5. Inform you of what the possible consequences of continued underperformance will be;
  6. Give you the time, resources, support and training to improve your performance;
  7. Provide you with mentoring and guidance throughout the performance improvement process;
  8. Objectively measure your performance at the end of the process and make a fair and reasonable decision as to what sanction (if any) should be imposed

At the start of the performance improvement process or during the performance improvement process your employer may choose to have a protected conversation with you to have a full and frank chat about the fact that you might be dismissed and to offer you a settlement package. If your employer takes this step then you may wish to consult an employment solicitor to discuss the package you are being offered and your options.

Other sources of information

Redmans Solicitors are London employment lawyers and settlement agreement solicitors

Redmans Solicitors

Redmans Solicitors

Commercial law, employment law and litigation firm based in Richmond, London
Redmans Solicitors

Previous post: