Things To Remember When Creating A Final Written Warning Letter
When you are an employer, it is important for you to have proper disciplinary action procedures in place for those who work for you. Verbal and written warnings are usually a part of this equation. There is no steadfast rule on the number of written warnings you must give an employee before a final written warning letter is issued, but two is a great rule to stick to. Here are a few other things to remember when you are navigating this process.
Is There A Certain Amount Of Time Before Issuing A Final Written Warning Letter?
The first thing you should bear in mind is that there should have been a prior warning within an allocated time frame before the final written warning letter is issued. For example, if someone received a warning three months before and they continued the offensive behavior, that is grounds for a final letter to be written. On the other hand, if a warning was written three years ago and all of the rules were followed since, you should not be in a rush to write a final warning at this time unless the behavior was extremely offensive. An example of an extreme offense would be stealing or fighting.
When you are composing a letter, you must make it strikingly clear that an employee may be dismissed if they continue to act in a way that is not conducive to a solid work environment. It is not enough to let them know that it is a final warning; you must be perfectly clear that continuing on the wrong path will lead to their termination. If this is not clearly expressed in the letter, there is a chance that legal action can be taken against the company by said employee. They may state that they were unaware that this behavior could result in termination.
Generally, there should be a verbal warning given to the employee before any written warnings are composed. The verbal warning is not looked at in the same serious manner as the written communication, and it is usually used to put an employee on notice. Once they have received one or more verbal warnings, you may then deem it necessary to create a warning letter. As you were told above, there is really no steadfast rule in most areas that dictates the number of written warnings that have to be given before a final written warning letter is issued, but it is a good idea to err on the side of caution.
Is It Ever OK To Issue A Final Written Warning Letter Without Prior Warnings?
Sometimes there are occasions when a verbal warning is not issued and an employer decides to write a final written warning letter right away. This is generally done when the offense is quite serious. Instances that may warrant a final warning right away are physical altercations, stealing money from the company and breaching of customers' trust. In those cases, and several others, it is not necessary to issue a verbal warning or prior written warning first; however, you must make it clear in the letter that this is the only warning that will be offered and the next step will be termination if there is a further problem.
It is best to offer continuous feedback to employees when they are doing things that you feel are against the workplace code of conduct. In the event that an employee feels blindsided by the final warning they receive, they may choose to take a few legal steps. Even if they do not prevail once they get into the courtroom, it will have cost your company a good amount of time and money. Being proactive and addressing your issues with the employee early will prevent legal battles in the future.
In the body of the letter, it is very helpful for you to cite any handbook rules they have violated so they may reference it when determining how to conduct themselves in the future. While this is not a necessity, it can be quite helpful to keep this at a warning level and not allow it to proceed to the dismissal phase. If there is no definitive rule they have broken, this can be rather tricky. Think of it this way: If an employee breaks a rule that they did not know existed, how logical is it to issue them a final warning? Keep this in mind as you are drafting your letter.
This may seem like a great deal of information to consider when drafting a final written warning letter, but the idea is to do things that are on the right side of the law. If an employee is conducting themselves in a way that is unacceptable, it is not in the best interest of your company to keep them around, but navigating the process in the incorrect way can have dire consequences, possibly legal. Before you begin writing a letter to an employee to issue a final warning
, make sure that you consider all of the information offered here.