By Mary Wright, Editor
What is a verbal warning?
A verbal warning is a disciplinary action given by a manager or supervisor to a subordinate employee. It orally identifies observed performance deficiencies or misconduct to the employee. It communicates the employer’s performance expectations. A verbal warning also provides notice to the employee of the consequences for failure to improve and/or meet those expectations.
What is the purpose of the verbal warning?
The purpose of a verbal warning is to provide notice to an employee that they are not meeting employer expectations and that there could be disciplinary consequences for failure to improve. It is also given for the purpose of correcting or changing the observed behavior.
Who gives the verbal warning?
An employee’s direct supervisor or manager typically gives a verbal warning. It may, however, be given by any agent of the employer in a superior position to the employee. The warning should be given in private.
What is said in the verbal warning?
Ideally, a verbal warning should identify the misconduct or performance deficiencies observed by the supervisor or manager. It should communicate whether the conduct violates company policy, constitutes affirmative misconduct of some kind or demonstrates inadequate performance. A verbal warning should request improvement within a certain period of time, i.e., immediate and sustained improvement, within the next 30 days, etc., and identify the specific consequences of failure to meet those expectations. Where appropriate, the verbal warning should identify the manner or means for corrected behavior. For instance, requesting that the employee obtain further training or instruction, engage in constructive conversation with coworkers or improve work habits or ethics.
Should the employer document the verbal warning?
Yes. The employer should make a written record of the performance deficiency or misconduct observed, the time and place of the observation, what was said too (and by) the employee, and the time frame given to the employee for improvement.
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Mary Wright, Esq.
This is my opinion. It is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your internal legal department or employment attorney before using this or any other information obtained through the Internet. Remember, nothing takes the place of advice from a lawyer who knows you and your business.