It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of issuing a warning is to try and correct a situation. The severity of a sanction can progressively increase each time only if an employee repeats the same offense or continues to commit offenses and disregards all previous attempts by the employer to rectify the situation.
Depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the offense, disciplinary action takes the form of one of the following:
An employer may discipline an employee where the employee’s conduct is regarded as being unacceptable and the employer considers further steps to be unsuitable or unnecessary.
A verbal warning is usually applied for a very minor offense, where the matter is resolved at shop floor level. Where a verbal warning is warranted, it is seldom necessary to embark on formal disciplinary procedures.
A written warning is usually the second step in a disciplinary process. If an employee engages in behavior that is contrary to the employer’s work policies and has already been warned verbally, the next step is to provide an employee a written warning that notifies the employee of his or her inappropriate behavior, often referencing a particular employment policy and usually warns the employee of the consequences if the employee continues to engage in the behavior.
A final written warning is usually the last resort. It is a result of the employee not taking previous warnings seriously, and continues misbehaving. This warning should not be taken lightly, as the next step could result in dismissal.
It is important to note that the final written warning can be used as a first step if the employee’s infringement is of a serious nature – even if the previous warnings were for different types of misconduct.
Prior to issuing any warning, the manager concerned must follow a fair procedure and allow the employee the opportunity to state his or her side of the case.
In a Nutshell – The aim of discipline in the form of warnings, is to correct unacceptable behaviour and adopt a progressive approach in the workplace. This also creates certainty and consistency in the application of discipline.
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