Must I Sign a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”)?

Question: Are you required to sign a PIP? If I refuse, what are the repercussions?

Chicago, IL

Answer: The answers to your questions depend on what you mean by “sign a PIP.”

A. If you have been asked to sign only to “Acknowledge Receipt” of a copy:

If you are asked to “Sign Here to acknowledge that you have today been given a copy of your Performance Improvement Plan” (or words to that effect), you should sign it, because all you are doing is admitting that you did, in fact, receive a copy. Signing something that says only that (or words to that effect) is not anything that can harm you. In fact, if you refuse to do so, you can be accused of insubordination, which is “cause” for firing you, although most companies would not go that far.

B. If you have been asked to sign to show “You agree with, or Admit, the list of Deficiencies” in your performance:

It is rare that employers request that you sign a PIP to show that you agree, or admit, the contents of a PIP. However, if you are asked to do that, I would suggest that you not sign such an admission. Instead, I would suggest you write the following: “I, Terry Jones, have been given a copy of this PIP, but I Do Not Agree with its contents.”

C. Either way, I strongly suggest you “Push Back” whenever you receive a PIP:

A Performance Improvement Plan most often represents a route to termination of an employee. I strongly suggest you (1) acknowledge receipt, (2) but at the same time write “Do not believe it is an honest assessment; response will be forthcoming,” and (3) prepare and send by email a detailed response, which must be respectful and detailed.

I always say, “Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself at work; rather, be afraid not to.”

You might want to review our other Newsletters and Q&A’s written on this topic. To do so [click here].

If you would like to obtain a “model” memo to help you respond to a Performance Improvement Plan or Performance Review [click here].

I have also prepared a unique 152 Point Guide to Pushing Back Against a PIP. To obtain a copy [click here].

Best, Al Sklover


© 2008 Alan L. Sklover. Commercial uses prohibited. All rights reserved and strictly enforced.

Print Article