A guide to warnings in the workplace

Warnings are an important workplace tool in helping to ensure that employees understand their employer’s expectations.

They also serve as evidence of a fair performance management process and provide supporting evidence should the employee be terminated.

A workplace warning is defined as a communication, be it verbal, or written, to an employee about their performance or conduct at work. Warnings are a tool used to communicate an identified area where an employee needs improvement, or where their conduct does not meet the required standard.

The aim of delivering a workplace warning is to give the employee an opportunity to improve their workplace performance or conduct.

A written warning should be issued after a warning meeting has taken place. At the conclusion of the meeting, the employee is advised that they will be receiving a written warning in the following couple of days.

Generally, most written warnings will comprise of the following:

-record who was present at the warning meeting

-record the fact that the employee was invited to have a support person present

-outline the conduct or performance which is the reason for the warning

-where appropriate refer to a relevant policy or the employment contract

-refer to previous warnings that were issued

-record the employee’s responses to the matters in issue

-clearly state that the employee needs to improve, including an explanation of the consequences for failure to improve

-where relevant, provide support the employee to improve such as training

-preferably be countersigned by the employee as evidence of their understanding of the warning

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