If you’ve been facing challenges at work, struggling to make sales quotas, productivity targets or hand in quality work, it’s to be expected that your supervisor or employer will tell you as much during performance reviews and one-on-ones. If your performance doesn’t improve, you could very well be placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP.)
As the name suggests, a PIP is plan that outlines the performance standards expected at your workplace, and shows that you have been consistently underperforming by citing specific examples or numbers. The PIP will then set specific goals for you to achieve, a timeline to achieve them in and can give you a step -by-step breakdown of smaller tasks to complete that propel you forward to hit your targets within the stipulated timeframe. The PIP will also likely serve as a formal, written warning and will outline disciplinary actions to take place if you still aren’t meeting expectations and that could very well include termination.
At least, that’s how they should be used by employers and managers.
Unfortunately, PIPs are far too often based on fabricated or generic grounds by employers who simply wish to terminate an employee for cause so they can refuse them the severance they’ve earned during their employment.
If you’ve been placed on a PIP and feel it was unwarranted, untrue and/or is completely generic, reach out to a firm of Toronto employment lawyers right away as your PIP was likely a way to get anything down on paper to make it look like your employer did everything they could until they were forced to take the unfortunate next step.
If you know you have a substantial severance package coming and/or need to continue working, time is of the essence. You can expect them to terminate you as soon as they can, so you and your lawyer need to start planning immediately.
What Can an Employment Lawyer Do?
An employment lawyer will ask what you would like to have happen and base the response to your employer accordingly. If you wish to continue working there as long as it takes you to find a new job, your lawyer can assist you with a response email which disputes any and all misleading or untrue allegations, requests specific clarifications on any vague criticisms or performance standards and, most importantly, creates a paper trail of your own. This often is enough to make the employer back off and give the employee time to find new work.
Other options include having your lawyer respond to your employer directly, possibly to negotiate a settlement that works for you. There is also the possibility that your employer has already crossed a line and that legal action is warranted.
It is important to note, however, that not all PIPs are created equal and each case is fact specific and unique to you. An experienced employment lawyer can advise you whether their intervention is necessary or if you have to gather more evidence or document more situations at work before they can get involved. Remember, a PIP is an internal tool used by companies and a lawyer cannot legally require an employer remove a potentially unwarranted PIP.