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Performance improvement plan for PASS staff

Performance management process | Performance Improvement Plan

Procedure to be followed where a staff member does not meet the position performance requirements and performance objectives

The objective of this procedure is to correct and/or improve performance. The procedure is a positive one and is not meant to be punitive. However, to accommodate the possibility that poor performance may not always be corrected, the procedure has to also cover the possible termination of the employment contract.

  1. Performance management process
    1. 1.1. New staff need to be given a current position description and a clear understanding of objectives/tasks and standards of performance expected. The objective-setting exercise must be completed within weeks of a new staff member commencing duty.
    2. 1.2. All permanent staff, whatever their length of service, should have a discussion with their managers each year regarding objectives and tasks for the year. This is part of the Development Dialogue (DD) process agreed with the UCT Employees Union.
    3. 1.3. Where a manager believes during the performance review process that a staff member is failing to meet the position performance requirements based on the agreed and understood objectives a Performance Improvement Plan can be initiated.
    4. 1.4. If the staff member wishes to appeal against the assessment then this process is aligned with the principles of the UCT grievance procedure.
    5. 1.5. The staff member is to first discuss the issue with the immediate line manager and attempt resolution. If there is no satisfactory resolution then the staff member has recourse to the next management level. The immediate line manager and the HR Practitioner need to be informed by the staff member of this action.
  2. Performance Improvement Plan
    1. The number of Performance Improvement Plan meetings is not prescribed in this procedure but rather depends on the circumstances of each case. The number of meetings may be indicated by factors such as the degree of poor performance, the possible consequence for the University, etc. The process described below suggests three meetings but this is just a guide; one may have fewer or more meetings depending on the circumstances.
    2. 2.1. Preliminaries to the first Performance Improvement Plan meeting
      1. 2.1.1. Where a staff member does not meet the position performance requirements or the performance objectives the manager shall inform the staff member that he/she is required to attend a meeting to discuss a Performance Improvement Plan. It is desirable that this meeting be held as soon as possible after the review process.
      2. 2.1.2. A copy of the outcomes of the review process will be given to the staff member in order for him/her to plan for the Performance Improvement Plan meeting. Sufficient notice (at least 2 working days) shall be given to the staff member.
      3. 2.1.3. The staff member shall be informed that he/she has the right to be assisted by a representative of his/her choice at this and all subsequent review meetings while performance does not meet the performance requirements, provided the representative is a UCT staff member. Should a staff member elect not to have a representative, this should be recorded in the Performance Improvement Plan notes.
      4. 2.1.4. If the representative of the staff member's choice is not available and if sufficient notice of the Performance Improvement Plan meeting has been given, the staff member has the option of finding an alternative representative before the scheduled meeting or proceeding without a representative.
    3. 2.2. The first meeting: Performance Improvement Plan
      1. 2.2.1. Sections 1 to 4 of the Performance Improvement Plan form (HR170) must be discussed. The performance requirements that are expected must be clarified. Corrective measures must be discussed. These may include, if deemed necessary, additional on-the-job training, courses, reading, counselling etc.
      2. 2.2.2. A date for a follow-up meeting shall be set to review the staff member's performance. The period between meetings depends on the nature of the work performed, the period over which performance can be measured and the seriousness of the poor performance. Informal feedback between the formal reviews should take place.
      3. 2.2.3. The Performance Improvement Plan form must be completed. A copy shall be given to the staff member.
    4. 2.3. The second meeting: Review of Performance Improvement Plan
      1. 2.3.1. Regardless of whether performance has improved, remained the same or deteriorated, the follow-up meeting shall take place on the scheduled date, or within 3 weeks of the scheduled date, if either staff member or manager has to change the prior arrangement.
      2. 2.3.2. A form called Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Review shall be completed (HR171).
      3. 2.3.3. If performance has improved to an acceptable level the staff member will be given a copy of the completed form and thereafter, the progress reviews that are part of the general performance management system will be used for feedback. This would mark an end to the use of the procedure in this agreement.
      4. 2.3.4. If performance has not improved, however, the manager shall substantiate any remaining areas of unsatisfactory performance and give the staff member an opportunity to respond. If performance has not improved to an acceptable level, and depending on the seriousness of the failure to meet required performance standards, the manager may indicate the possibility of the employment relationship being reviewed with the possibility of the contract being terminated if performance does not improve by the next meeting. A date to review performance again shall be set. Informal feedback between the formal reviews should take place.
      5. 2.3.5. After the meeting, the staff member shall be given a copy of the completed Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Review form (HR171).
      6. 2.3.6. Where, in 2.3.4 management has indicated that the employment contract could be terminated should there be no improvement in performance by the next meeting, a letter to this effect shall also be given to the staff member.
    5. 2.4. The third meeting
      1. 2.4.1. Regardless of whether performance has improved, remained the same or deteriorated, the follow-up meeting shall take place on the scheduled date, or within 3 weeks of the scheduled date.
      2. 2.4.2. If the manager believes that the staff member's performance has not improved, a senior manager (e.g. HOD or section head) must chair the meeting. A member of the Human Resources Department may also be invited to attend.
      3. 2.4.3. Another Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) Review form must be completed (HR171).
      4. 2.4.4. If the Chair finds that performance has improved to an acceptable level, this would mark the end to the use of the procedure in this agreement. Future feedback would follow the procedure detailed in the performance management agreement.
      5. 2.4.5. If, however, the Chair finds that the staff member has not achieved the required standard of performance, the Chair may decide to hold further review meetings or to terminate the employment relationship. The contractual period of notice, or payment in lieu of this notice, shall be honoured in the event of dismissal.
      6. 2.4.6. Formal notice of the outcome of the review meeting shall be given to the staff member by the Chair. The Chair shall keep a full record of the third review meeting and shall make it available to the staff member, or his/her representative, on request.
    6. 2.5. Alternatives to terminating the employment contract
      1. 2.5.1. In special circumstances, i.e. on the request of the Chair of the review meeting described in 2.4, attempts shall be made where appropriate to redeploy/demote the staff member to a vacancy at a lower level of responsibility within the university.
      2. 2.5.2. Where the staff member concerned rejects a proffered transfer and/or demotion, termination of the employment relationship shall follow.
      3. 2.5.3. Where the staff member accepts a demotion, a new contract shall be entered into at the payclass of the new post. The staff member's salary, where higher than the standard package of the new payclass, shall be brought in line immediately with the new payclass standard package.
    7. 2.6. Appeal
      1. 2.6.1. A staff member has the right, either personally or through his/her representative, to appeal against any decision to terminate his/her employment contract on the basis of poor performance.
      2. 2.6.2. The basis for the appeal must be stated.
      3. 2.6.3. The appeal should be made in writing to the Registrar, via the Employee Relations Section of the Human Resources Department, within 7 (seven) working days of the dismissal. The Registrar, or Registrar's nominee, shall decide the appeal. If the Registrar or Registrar's nominee considers it necessary, he/she shall convene an appeal hearing to hear oral evidence within 14 (fourteen) days of receipt of the appeal.
      4. 2.6.4. The Registrar or the Registrar's nominee may accept a notice of appeal lodged after the expiry of the said time limits.
      5. 2.6.5. A decision on the appeal shall be given within 7 (seven) working days of receipt of the appeal if no hearing is called, or within 7 (seven) working days of the conclusion of the appeal hearing. This decision will be given as soon as possible thereafter in writing. This decision shall be final and shall indicate the end of the procedure for addressing unsatisfactory performance.

Updated and reviewed: 13 July 2005

Page last updated: 18 May 2015