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<Can an employee refuse to sign their performance review?>

Can an employee refuse to sign their performance review?

Yosie Saint-Cyr LL.B., Managing Editor, HRinfodesk.com---Canadian Payroll and Employment Law News, April 2012

The dreaded performance review period is at an end for most workplaces, but it continues for some. Our latest HRinfodesk poll asked participants: Can an employee refuse to sign their performance review? The majority of respondents (83.43 percent) carefully chose the correct answer: an employee can refuse to sign their performance review and there is no but about it.

Before I explain, here is a small but clear sample of what some of you had to say:

  • They can refuse but you need to make a note that they refused to sign when requested and date it!
  • Signing one's performance review need not be an agreement as to the contents. The employee should be able to add their own comments including the fact that they are not in agreement with what is written. The signature is only attesting to the fact that they are aware of the review and that they have seen it. Without a signature, the employee would be able to say that they did not know that the review existed.
  • The poll does not have a straightforward response. If the employee disagrees with the performance review, then they can clearly write on the review that they disagree with it along with their signature. Most performance reviews these days have both the employee's and the supervisor's responses on the review questions; this is where it is clarified what is in dispute.

So what is the point of a signature?

Everyone who directly manages one or more employees is accountable for conducting and completing a performance review. Most workplace policy requires that these reviews be done in writing (documented) and that both the manager and the employee sign the performance review form.

The point of the signature is to signify that the employee has received the said document, has read it and understands the content, but not that the employee agrees with all of its content. You could add language to that effect above the signature.

You could also have a section under the signature for the employee to add any comments or disagreement with the review. Nonetheless, an employee may still refuse to sign the review, if she or he chooses.

More information on how to deal with an employee who refuses to sign an evaluation or written warning and an overview of common law requirements regarding performance reviews can be found in a previous poll commentary here.