By Mary Wright, Editor
What is a written warning?
A written warning is a disciplinary action given by a manager or supervisor to a subordinate employee. It identifies, in writing, observed performance deficiencies or misconduct of an employee and the employer’s expectations of improvement. A written provides notice to the employee of the consequences for failure to improve and/or meet those expectations.
What is the purpose of the written warning?
The purpose of a written 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. A written warning is considered a formal disciplinary action.
What should the written warning contain?
Like a verbal warning, a written warning should identify the misconduct or performance deficiencies observed by the supervisor a manager. It should communicate whether the conduct violates company policy, constitutes affirmative misconduct some kind or demonstrates inadequate performance. A written 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 spitting consequences of failure to meet those expectations. Where appropriate, the written 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.
How is the written warning delivered to the employee?
A written warning is typically given to the employee by the supervisor or manager in a face to face meeting. There should be three people in meeting: the employee being counseled, the manager or supervisor, and a witness. The witness should be someone from human resources or it administration, and their primary purpose is to be an observer and note taker. The supervisor or manager should be prepared to go over the warning point by point with the employee and explain the employer’s expectations in detail. The supervisor or managers should also be prepared to answer questions about the manner in which improvement is to be accomplished and the consequences for failure to meet those expectations.
Who signs the written warning?
The manager or supervisor who gives the written warning should sign it. The witness should sign it to acknowledge participation in the meeting. It may also be signed by any human resources representative who participated in the creation of the written warning.
The employee should be asked to sign the document. The manager or supervisor should explain to the employee that execution of the written warning does not constitute agreement with its contents, but, rather, an acknowledged that of receipt.
If the employee refuses to sign the written warning, the manager or supervisor should note “Employee Declined to Sign” beside the blank signature line.
Does the employee get a copy of the written warning?
Yes. The employee should get a copy regardless of whether they agree with the content or whether they signed it.
Where is the written warning stored?
The employee’s personnel file.
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.