A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a formal warning of underperformance and admitting one’s failure to meet predetermined targets, even if it is not a means of discipline. A PIP outlines a set of actions to assist struggling employees in meeting employer expectations and helping them fulfill the requirements of their position.
When a PIP is provided, it is crucial to make sure that it lays out a realistic path to achievement. If it does not seem possible, you should request adjustments that will enable you to meet the requirements. If needed, you should get legal advice.
These factors refute the idea that putting a worker on paid leave with benefits is a foolproof defense for termination for a reason.
If a person does not meet a performance criterion specified in the PIP, the company has the right to fire them, but they have to tell the employee exactly what the requirement is. If this is not done, the PIP will be meaningless, and the employer will not be able to use it to justify firing the worker for a reason.
The criteria must be logically sound in all respects.
The PIP’s criterion must be a realistic one. Companies cannot set unachievable performance standards and then use an employee’s failure to meet them to justify firing them without providing a fair warning period or compensation. In the case of a trial, the court, not the employer, has the authority to determine whether the standard that the employer attempted to impose through a PIP was reasonable.
A clear warning about not meeting the PIP’s standards
Employers must notify employees that failing to satisfy the standard may result in future dismissal, including on a for-reason basis, if they decide to use the implementation of a PIP as a pretext for terminating their employment with cause. If this is not done, the employer would not be able to depend on the PIP in the future if they decide to defend a termination for cause.
Chance for improvement
By definition, if the requirement was fair in the first place, an employee placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP) must be allowed to address valid performance issues. Depending on the situation, putting an employee on multiple PIPs could be acceptable. The PIP will become legally meaningless if the employee is not given enough time to improve performance.
A PIP ought to be carried out with sincerity.
A PIP cannot be applied in ill faith. It is surprising how frequently workers who have been doing well for years get put on a PIP because they have a new supervisor trying to eliminate them. Usually, when a new supervisor starts to “nitpick” about an employee’s work, it is not because there are legitimate performance issues; rather, it is because the new supervisor deliberately tries to let the employee down under the pretext of “company expectations.”