Issuing an employee with a written warning

signexclamation.jpgReprimanding an employee for non-performance or misconduct is sometimes necessary, but never pleasant. Once you have done so verbally, it may become necessary to put the warning in writing.

Written warnings may be given with or without a disciplinary hearing being held. Employees normally indicate on the letter of warning whether it is a first, second or final written warning, depending on the number of previous warnings given and/or the severity of the alleged offence. 

An employee can appeal against a final written warning and the employer can hold an enquiry if the employer believes that it is only on hearing evidence that the outcome can be determined.  

When receiving/ issuing a letter of warning the following should be remembered:

  • Written warnings will remain valid for 3 to 6 months.  
  • Final written warnings will remain valid for 12 months.
  • A warning for one type of contravention is not applicable to another type of offence. In other words, a first written warning for late-coming could not lead to a second written warning for insubordination.

Signing for receipt of a letter of warning

Employees may be requested to sign for receipt of a warning letter and will be given an opportunity to state any objections. Refusal by the employee to sign a warning letter does not make the warning invalid. A witness may be requested to sign the warning notice stating that the employee refused acceptance of the warning.

Click here to view a sample letter of warning from the South African Labour Guide, if you do not have a template you are currently using.

To avoid any complications for not following the correct procedures, it may be in your best interest to consult a labour advisor for advice in this regard.


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