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When should you issue a written warning?

by , 09 January 2014
You probably know that a verbal warning is a reprimand for a less serious offence. But, do you know what a written warning is, and when you should resort to issuing it? Read on to find out.

Labour expert, André Claassen of the Labour Guide says because of the progressively corrective nature of disciplinary action, the sanction you apply must also be progressive in nature.

'Depending on the severity of the offense and the circumstances under which it was committed, the sanction can range from a verbal warning through to a written warning, a final written warning and dismissal,' says Claassen.

For the purposes of this article, we'll focus on written warnings.

You must resort to issuing a written warning under these circumstances

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says you must give your employee a written warning when:
  • A verbal warning has failed to produce the desired result or if the offense for which a verbal warning was issued has been repeated;
  • There have been repeated offenses of other misconduct; and
  • The offense (even a first offense) is serious enough to warrant disciplinary action stricter that a verbal warning.

You must issue the written warning after you've followed a fair procedure. This means the accused employee must have an opportunity to present his case and answer to the charges against him.

Make sure the written warning contains the following:

Claassen says a written warning must contain:
  • The identity of both parties;
  • The nature, date and time of the offense ;
  • The terms of the warning and validity period;
  • A clear statement of what action is required of the guilty party to rectify the situation; and
  • A clear statement of the consequences of the guilty party's failure to take heed of the requirements of the warning or of repeated offenses (of similar or other misconduct).

Knowing when to issue a written warning will help ensure you follow a fair procedure when disciplining your employees.

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