Both production and quality targets/expectations are set by the client for each engagement and should be reviewed periodically and/or when significant changes are made to the processes.

Targets/expectations are set for associates based on the contractual targets set by the client.

There are occasions when an associate may struggle to achieve quality or production targets/expectations or both.

In those circumstances steps need to be taken to support the associate in improving their delivery to enable them to achieve the agreed targets/expectations.

The Service Improvement Plan template can be found here.

Informal Support

Where possible, you should seek to address any areas of concern as they occur through informal support. This allows, at the earliest stage, for individuals to be provided with feedback regarding a shortcoming and provides an opportunity to encourage open discussion of the issues involved whilst seeking effective solutions.

An informal discussion should take place with the associate to talk about areas of concern (i.e. quality, production, attendance, behaviour, attitude) which should be supported with facts and feedback. The discussion should be ongoing, constructive and focus on what might be causing the issue and what can be done to support the associate in delivering to the required standard. Consideration should be given to what support is needed, including additional training, reasonable adjustments (more information on reasonable adjustments can be found in here. An appropriate time period for the improvement to take place should be agreed. It is recommended that the informal discussion and any support agreed is documented in an email to the associate.

Formal Process

Should informal support not generate an improvement to the necessary standard, or the nature of the issue is serious (for example repetitive, frequent in nature or causes serious repercussions), the following formal process should be used.

Step 1: Notify Line Management of Concerns

Step 2: Service Improvement Discussion

Before the meeting:

  • Collate information and data to understand where the area of concern is
  • Compare the performance with the required performance when benchmarked against other associates
  • If the concerns remain, these should be discussed in a face-to-face meeting with the associate, using examples and the information gathered

At the meeting:

  • Present concerns using the supporting information and allow the associate to raise any reasons for the poor delivery of the services and how the level of service can be improved
  • Discuss what support is needed to address the area of concern
  • Advise the associate on the improvements required and that any additional time required to be invested to improve delivery rests with them

The following steps should be used:

  • Consider and agree what would be reasonable timescales and outcomes
  • Agree a review date and diarise
  • Complete the Service Improvement Plan (SIP). The template can be found here
  • Document the discussion and email the associate a copy of the completed SIP so that they are clear on what the issues are and the agreed improvement plan. Include the agreed review date your correspondence to the associate
  • Email the Huntswood EM/SDM/Operations Manager to make them aware that a conversation has been had, and the agreed review date
  • If at this stage you feel that it is necessary to give notice (i.e. where there is a long notice period and notice would be rescinded if SIP is successful) at the beginning of the SIP process, this should be discussed with your EM/SDM/Operations Manager and recorded on the SIP

Step 3: Service Improvement Review Meeting

  • Undertake a review of the relevant data and information, including timesheet information to see if the associate has invested any additional time to improve performance of the services ahead of the review meeting
  • Ensure review meeting happens on the date agreed
  • If the required improvement has occurred and the associate has responded to the areas of concern, inform the associate but clarify that we require the associate to continue to monitor service delivery to ensure that the standard of performance continues to meet the requirements. Email the EM/SDM/Operations Manager to make them aware of outcome
  • If the associate has failed to remedy the service delivery issues escalate the issue to the EM/SDM providing all relevant information, the EM/SDM will then advise on next steps including termination of the contract (see Step 4)

Step 4: Termination for Breach of Contract/Poor Service: See Contract Termination

The procedure for removing an associate from an assignment can be found here.

Before releasing an associate, the following points should be considered:

  • Are you releasing the associate for the right reason?
  • Are the reasons for releasing an associate consistent with previous behaviour/issues arising in the performance of the services?
  • Do you have sufficient evidence to support your reason for releasing the associate (e.g. evidence to support a failure to reach the required targets)?
  • Ensure any previous discussions have been documented and shared with the associate along the way with a view to producing a final document
  • Whilst all associates engaged by Huntswood remain independent contractors and are not employees of Huntswood, in line with Huntswood values and culture, we ensure respect and fair treatment for all individuals supplied under an associate contract
  • We therefore need to consider whether there are any health issues, for example could an individual’s poor performance be because of a disability or is an individual’s level of sickness absence as a direct result of pregnancy?
  • If the associate has a disability you should also consider whether:
    • there were no further adjustments that could reasonably have been made or that any possible adjustments would not have helped the individual
    • appropriate and up-to-date medical advice was sought and considered (if applicable) prior to the decision to terminate, the individual was given a full opportunity to put forward representations about his or her condition, its effects and his or her abilities; and
    • termination was a course of action that was justified on grounds that were material and substantial

Where the associate has breached contract by failing to make the required service improvements, and in agreement with the EM/SDM, a final formal meeting should be undertaken with the associate.

N.B. The ‘Associate Release Request Form’ (which can be found here) MUST be completed and approved by the EM/SDM prior to any meeting taking place.

  • If you are terminating an assignment, refer to Contract Termination for the necessary steps, including ensuring that all personal belongings are removed, that equipment is returned, that data security may mean that individuals are required to be escorted from the building, and that this should be done with minimal attention, and with dignity for the individual concerned
  • All subsequent termination forms should be submitted as soon as is practical

The following should be discussed during the meeting:

  • Present the information in support of the associates’ continued poor performance and refer to the agreed improvement plan from the previous discussion(s) and clarify that the associate has continued to fail to comply with such plan
  • Ask the associate for any feedback
  • Advise the associate that the assignment is being terminated for breach in accordance with the terms of the contract and that they are going to be released from the engagement with immediate effect (*see relevant section on points to consider prior to making the final decision). This should be confirmed in writing
  • Ask the associate to complete their timesheet that day with agreed times and billable days
  • Confirm outcome in writing to the EM/SDM that day, including feedback and summary of the conversation, cc’ing in the associate
  • Complete and return the Leavers Form accurately to enable Huntswood to maintain accurate records
  • Ensure the associates’ cases are handed to other members of the team to limit impact to the client engagement

During both the informal and formal stages of the Service Improvement process, it is important to ensure the following:


  • Offer support to enable individuals or the team to achieve targets
  • Set out the consequences for not achieving targets, e.g.:
    • The assignment is at risk
    • Failure to achieve targets may/possible could lead to release depending on the outcome
  • Use
    • A service improvement plan to specify what improvements are required, etc
    • The umbrella company to leverage some of the conversation, through your EM/SDM
  • Document
    • Every conversation
    • Formalise the service improvement plan in writing and provide a copy to the associate and ensure receipt and understanding is acknowledged
  • Ask what you can do to support them


  • Use the words “sack”/”fire”/”job”. Associates are engaged through a contract for services
  • Threaten, bully, or over-pressurise the team or individuals to achieve quality or production targets

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