Kate Rigby, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Boston office, was quoted in SHRM, in “PIPs: Write, Implement, and Time Them Precisely,” by Allen Smith.Following is an excerpt:A performance improvement plan (PIP) is typically a step in a progressive discipline policy—one that shouldn’t be rushed into too quickly or used for all types of performance deficiencies.If the performance failure is a one-time event, it may be too soon to implement a PIP, said Katherine Rigby, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in Boston. “However, if an employee is experiencing repeated or multiple performance deficiencies, a properly structured PIP can effectively provide the necessary road map and support to meet performance objectives.”Immediate termination may be appropriate for egregious misconduct. If implementing a PIP, employers should clarify the plan doesn’t change the at-will nature of employment. …Drafting Tips …Include a specific and appropriate duration for the PIP, such as 30 to 90 days, Rigby said. “The appropriate duration should be aligned with business goals and will depend in part on the performance metrics that need to be improved and whether the duration is sufficient to allow the employee to accomplish the objectives,” she said. …Consider including a statement that the employee must demonstrate “immediate and sustained improvement,” Rigby recommended.The PIP could note that the company may determine at its own discretion to end the PIP early if the employee clearly cannot or is otherwise refusing to meet the goals of the PIP, she said.HR needs to be involved to ensure the drafting of the PIP is consistent across the organization, Rigby added.Proper ImplementationRegularly and accurately document the employee’s performance throughout the PIP with details on the date and examples of how performance has progressed—whether it has improved, stayed the same or deteriorated—Rigby said.“Obtain feedback from the employee about their performance and obstacles, if any, they have identified in progressing,” she said. “If the need for additional training and support is identified, provide that as soon as possible.”Be open to making changes to the PIP based on employee feedback, Rigby added.“If the employee has sustained consistent improved performance, consider whether to end the PIP early,” she said. “If, on the other hand, the employee has failed to make sustained improved performance, consider whether to end the PIP early and whether other action should be taken.” …Fast Termination Versus a PIP …A PIP is not typically effective if the employer has already repeatedly counseled the employee on various performance deficiencies, and the employee clearly is unlikely to perform the required job duties, assuming there is no need for a reasonable accommodation, Rigby said.