If an employee fails to meet an acceptable performance in a Critical Element by the end of one fiscal quarter (for an examiner, this means achieving under 88% in Production or Docket Management (DM), or accruing a 9.99% error rate in Quality), then they may be placed on an Oral Warning.
Oral Warnings can be issued via discussion or writing, but verbally given Oral Warninings must be followed up with written confirmation. The Written Confirmation will list the details relevant to the employee's case. The employee will then have the following quarter to raise their performance. If they are not able to do so, they will receive a Written Warning.
Oral Warnings do not immediately lead to a reduction in grade or proposed removal. If the employee receives a Written Warning, is placed on and then fails their Performance Improvement Period (PIP), then they will be reduced in grade or removed. The OPM requires that agencies inform their employees that those who fail their PIP "may be reduced in grade or removed." The "may" stipulation allows for leniency in times of emergency or catastrophe (examples being a death in the immediate family, or a house fire.) Unless an employee has experienced such an event, then they will be reduced in grade or removed following their failed Written Warning PIP.
Employees are limited to receiving up to three Oral Warnings, regarding a particular Critical Element, in any rolling five-year period. The fourth time in that period that the employee fails to meet perfomance standards in that particular Critical Element, they will automatically receive a Written Warning.
Critical Elements are based on an employee's Perfomance Appraisal Plan (PAP.) Examiners have access to information about their performance on a bi-weekly basis. An examiner can use their Production and Award Calculatior and DM Workflow Planner, both available on the PALM Examiner Dashboard, to track their production and DM levels. More so, supervisors provide information on performance quality via emails.