We are seeing a dramatic increase in employers basically pushing people out the door or forcing them onto performance improvement plans, rather than making them redundant. We’re seeing a concerted strategy by employers to avoid redundancies. The method of choice is going through and identifying people that may have had an entirely unblemished employment record up until now and forcing them onto performance improvement plans.
What Does the Plan Involve?
A performance improvement plan can absolutely be implemented as long as the purpose of the plan is positive and constructive. It needs to be reasonable management action which means that the concerns that are held in relation to performance need to be fair and reasonable. They need to be clearly identified so that you know how you can improve your performance. If you need support to do that, then you need to ask for it and you need to be given a reasonable period of time to improve your performance.
As a typical rule of thumb, most performance improvement plans last for somewhere between 4-12 weeks, usually between 8-12 weeks. You need to be given a real opportunity to improve against the concerns that are held so you need to understand what they are and improve against them.
Can You Dispute the Plan?
You can dispute the implementation of a performance improvement plan in its entirety if you do not believe it is reasonable management action. It might be construed to be workplace bullying if it is repeated conduct and it’s causing a risk to health and safety. If you think you are being bullied at work you can raise an internal complaint and, if it is not resolved internally, you can make a stop bullying application to the Fair Work Commission.
The reality is that most performance improvement plans are deemed to be reasonable management action before the Commission. Unless you can demonstrate there was no reasonable basis to have the plan or that the objectives that you’ve been asked to do are not fair or reasonable. The best thing you can do when you have a plan is to comply with it. If there is any reason why you can’t, then the best thing that you can do is ask your employer for the support that you need to comply against it.
If, at the start of the plan, your employer has a conversation like this:
- We can either take this unpalatable undesirable performance improvement plan process; or
- You can resign from your employment and we might offer you a payment
That’s a sign that the employer has already made a decision to dismiss you from employment.
Get in touch because that is an awful process that you have to go through, especially when the employer predetermines the outcome. If there’s evidence that it is a predetermined outcome and there is no issue with your performance, then you may be entitled to redundancy (if the job is no longer required to be performed) or you may be protected from unfair dismissal. You can book a consult with us today or call 1800 737 123.