Advice on appraisals and performance reviews

Is your employer legally obliged to give you a performance appraisal?

A performance appraisal (PA), also referred to as a performance review, performance evaluation, (career) development discussion, or employee appraisal is a method by which the job performance of an employee is documented and evaluated.

Performance appraisals are a part of career development and consist of regular reviews of employee performance within organisations.

Whilst there is no legal requirement to carry out appraisals, it is good practice to set up a performance appraisal annually or every 6 months. These meetings should be set up by your employer and they should allow both you and your employer to discuss your performance at work.

Appraisals are a useful tool in order to be able to make an informed decision about career plans, future work and in some cases bonuses and any pay rises.

For the appraisal to have any benefit, it is important that both parties are allowed to speak openly and honestly about the role. An appraisal will normally be conducted by your line manager.

Appraisal procedure

It is common practice that before an appraisal goes ahead all parties are told what to expect from it.

It is important that an appraisal is held in private. It is recommended by many that appraisals are on a one to one basis, however whilst the person who would ordinarily lead the appraisal would be a line manager, some commentators believe that it is important for a third person to record what is discussed.

The employee should be given enough notice of their appraisal meeting date and it is likely that both the employee and employer will be asked to complete appraisal documentation before the meeting as part of the process. Any documentation completed will assist when going through any issues.

After the meeting, you should be given a written report of your appraisal, which should include:

 personal details, including job title and description;
 a performance review of specific areas of work;
 a rating of your overall performance;
 comments from the appraiser;
 your comments about your performance;
 a personal development plan.

How your employer may approach your appraisal

Appraisals may include rating your performance in different areas numerically. Each point is discussed and a score given, leading to an overall performance score. You should be allowed (along with the appraiser) to make comments on each point.

Another way of rating employee performance in different areas is by using a standard, or categories such as “meets expectations” or “exceeds expectations”.

Outcome of the performance appraisal

After an appraisal is completed and signed off by the line manager and employee. The appraisal is kept as a record of the employee’s development and progress.

If minor issues are in dispute, but the employee is satisfied with the appraisal overall, a record of the areas that have not been agreed can also be kept.

It is important to remember that an appraisal is not a disciplinary process and should not be used by your employer to impose disciplinary sanctions. The appraisal is also not an appropriate meeting for an employee to air a grievance.

Article written by Nicola Roe, Employment Lawyer at Ironmonger Curtis