Performance Improvement Plan FAQs

How do I know whether I should use a PIP?

A PIP is an optional supervisory tool that gives OAs the opportunity to succeed while still holding them accountable for past performance.A PIP can be helpful when an OA is likely to benefit from a clearly documented plan that is specific about problem performance, behavioral expectations, steps to meet identified goals, and timelines.It is important to consult with HR’s Employee Labor Relations team to determine whether a PIP is appropriate for a given situation.

At what point is a PIP developed?

The timing of a PIP will depend on the situation.Most typically, it will be used alongside or after a letter of clarification or a letter of reprimand.

Is a PIP a disciplinary step?

The PIP itself is not considered a disciplinary step, but rather an opportunity for an employee and their supervisor to work together to address significant concerns regarding an employee’s performance.  There is a clear connection between a PIP and discipline in that a PIP is often used alongside other disciplinary steps, and a PIP that is not successfully completed typically leads to discipline.

How is a PIP different from a letter of clarification or written reprimand?

The contents of a PIP will often overlap with the contents of a letter of clarification or reprimand.A letter of clarification is intended to put an employee on notice of performance concerns that could lead to discipline if not addressed.A letter of reprimand is a disciplinary step that is documented and placed in an employee’s personnel file.A PIP is a documented plan that includes detailed metrics for improvement, including timelines.In addition, a PIP will include a documented follow up schedule to ensure that the supervisor is current on the employee’s progress.

What if I don’t know what steps the employee should take to improve?

Contact HR’s Employee and Labor Relations team for assistance in developing the contents of a PIP.  Once an initial draft is completed, it is important to get input from the employee to ensure the steps are effective from their perspective.

If more than one of my employees has the same performance issues, can I use a PIP for only one of them?

To some degree, it will depend on the situation (i.e. Does one employee have a history of performance concerns that others do not?), but generally, consistency is important.HR’s Employee Labor Relations team is available to consult about individual situations.

What if performance improves during the period of the PIP and then gets worse again?

In order to address this concern, the PIP process has two phases: The Evaluation Period and the Post-PIP Period.The evaluation period is the time covered by the contents of the PIP.It starts on the day the PIP is delivered to the employee and ends 60 days later (or longer depending on whether an extension is granted).The post-PIP period includes the 12 months after the completion of the evaluation period.During these 12 months, the employee and supervisor are expected to meet at the 6-month point and the 12-month point to review the PIP and ensure that the employee is continuing to sustain satisfactory performance.If satisfactory performance has continued, the PIP is officially closed 12 months after the completion of the evaluation phase.

How do I know if the employee was successful in completing the PIP?

The PIP should have specific, measurable goals, which should make it clear to both you and the employee whether they have been successful in meeting the goals.Situations may arise that make it difficult to determine whether there has been enough improvement to consider the PIP successfully completed.For example, an employee might complete some goals successfully, but not others. If you are unclear about the outcome of a PIP, contact HR’s Employee and Labor Relations team for assistance.

What if my employee refuses to participate in the improvement plan?  What if they refuse to sign the PIP?

The employee should be informed that the alternative to a PIP is disciplinary action.The appropriate disciplinary steps should be made in consultation with HR. It is important to document a refusal to participate in or sign a PIP.

What are the consequences for not successfully completing a PIP? Can a PIP lead to termination?

If an OA is unable or refuses to improve after the PIP 60-day evaluation phase, or if their performance actually worsens, the supervisor may elect to pursue discipline, up to termination for cause, for poor performance with 30 days advance notice of separation.Supervisors must consult with HR prior to issuing discipline.

All PIPs should include the following language:

It is important you understand that if your [performance/behavior] does not improve or is repeated, or future violations of policies or rules occur, further disciplinary processes and sanctions may be pursued up to and including termination.  Any further disciplinary processes and sanctions, including termination must be determined in consultation with HR. 

Can an employee grieve a PIP?

Employees cannot typically grieve the contents of a PIP. However, allegations of discrimination, retaliation or other problematic behaviors associated with a PIP can lead to a grievance.In addition, employees can grieve disciplinary steps taken when a PIP is not successfully completed.

Why do I have to contact HR if I plan to use a PIP with my employee?

It is critical to work with HR to ensure compliance with policy, procedure and law.In addition, HR staff can be an important resource related to PIP development, delivery, and management.

Will a PIP be placed in the employee’s personnel file?

Yes, once completed either successfully or unsuccessfully, a PIP will be kept in the employee’s personnel file for 5 years.