“I did not pass my Performance Improvement Plan. Is it too late to contest it?”

Question: I was put on a Performance Improvement Plan. This week after I completed the 30-day performance review period, I was told I had not met the job performance requirements. Therefore, I have two weeks of employment left, and will then be terminated with three weeks of severance. 

Is it too late to address the Performance Improvement Plan? 

San Mateo, California

Answer: Dear Diana: While it may be late to address the underlying truth or fairness of your Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”), it is never too late. With me, so long as there is life, there is hope. Here are my thoughts:   

1. There is nothing wrong with trying your best to “pass” or “survive” a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”), but it rarely – and I mean rarely – ever works. Many people who are placed on PIP’s say to themselves “I am going to do my best to succeed and fulfill the requirement of this Performance Improvement Plan.” Actually, I find that quite admirable. If (a) an employee is placed on a Performance Improvement Plan for honest and valid reasons, and (b) if the Performance Improvement Plan is administered in good faith, then that approach is probably the best approach to take. It’s simple: try to improve your performance with all the efforts and intelligence you have in you, and hope for the best.    

However, in my extensive experience over many years with employees and their PIP’s (also called Performance Action Plans), it is far, far more often the case that (a) employees are placed on PIP’s for the very purpose in mind of terminating them, with a “protective paper trail” and usually without any or any decent amount of severance, and (b) they are administered with little or no good faith. For these reasons the “I’ll do my best” approach almost always fails. I wish it was not so.  

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Performance Improvement Plans – How to Push Back.” To do so, just [click here.]

2. Better late than never. Sure, it is rather late to raise the issue of the validity, honesty and propriety of your Performance Improvement Plan. And, too, it may look like you are now nothing more than a “sore loser” who failed to succeed at the task before you. All of that said, I am 100% in favor of your contesting your PIP now, in writing, along the path that I suggest in all of my writings and videos. You can read and view them from the blog.   

If you would like a helpful Model Letter to contest your Performance Improvement Plan, that tells you “What to Say, and How to Say It,” we offer one that you can obtain by simply [clicking here.]

3. Bear in mind that you will likely be asked to sign a Release of Claims in order to get any severance, and that release would surely include any claims related to your Performance Improvement Plan. It is almost always the case that employers require from departing employees a release of all claims in order to receive any severance. When an employee is terminated after a PIP, that severance is usually quite minimal. Indeed, in my opinion, that is usually the whole idea of Performance Improvement Plans: save money on severance. Bear in mind that your three weeks of severance pay, after taxes, may amount to less than two weeks of your usual pay.

4. Far worse is that, it is possible that in any Release of Claims you will be required to sign to get severance, you may be required to include a resignation, which would almost surely result in denying you the right to collect unemployment benefits. Yes, it is a fact in almost all states that, if employers can cut down on the number of their employees who collect unemployment benefits, the “rate” of contribution they pay for unemployment insurance coverage for their other employees is reduced, saving them a lot of money. You see, in industries with high or regular layoffs, such as construction, employers must pay more than they do in industries with low or rare layoffs, such as hospitals. This may be a great problem for you, because to gain three weeks of severance by losing perhaps 99 weeks of unemployment benefits makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Yet, many employees are tricked into doing just that – hurting themselves in the process.

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “The 12 Basics of Unemployment.” To do so, simply [click here.]

5. By contesting your Performance Improvement Plan, you can also ask for greater severance, because a false Performance Improvement Plan can be the perpetration of a fraud against you. The last step in my recommended path to contest a PIP is to suggest to your employer the wisdom of an alternative outcome to the one their HR team has planned for you. For you, that would surely include both (a) more severance, and (b) a confirmation that they will not contest any application you may make  for unemployment benefits. You should also request (c) that they will not say anything about you or your performance to your prospective employers. It is the fraudulent – or at least misguided –PIP that gives you the legal right to sue your company that they want to get a release  from.

You might be interested in obtaining our Ultimate Guide to Contesting Performance Improvement Plans, which offers a step-by-step Guide to this entire process. If interested, just [click here.]  

6. Another alternative might be to present what we have invented called an “Involuntary Resignation” that helps to preserve your rights, including those to severance and unemployment benefits. An alternative to being terminated is to resign, and an Involuntary Resignation – though it may sound like a contradiction in terms –is your best path forward if you decide to do so. It is a proactive way to put yourself in the best light when leaving. We invented the concept, and employees worldwide are now using it daily to their benefit.

One of our most popular Model Letters is our Model Involuntary Resignation letter. To obtain a copy, just [click here.]

Diana, I hope this is helpful to you. Performance Improvement Plans can be humiliating, infuriating and intimidating. The message for you is that they do not have to be any of those things. You can “turn the tables” on your employer in this process by using our methods and materials.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but as they say “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, either way, you are right.” Good luck!!

Al Sklover

P.S: Our Model Letters help people stand up for themselves at work. For a friend facing Job Loss, Severance, Resignation, Bully Boss, or Performance Improvement Plan, they are a “Helping Hand Gift for a Friend in Need.” Just [click here] to view our list.


Repairing the World –
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© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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