How Many Verbal Warnings Before?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about number of warnings:

How many verbal warnings do you give before you give a written warning?

Signed, Warning Giver

Dear Warning Giver:

There is no labor law prescribing a sequence of warnings or about warnings themselves. Rather they are governed by general policies. Usually there is a three step sequence: oral, written, and final warning that can result in a form of discipline such as probation with behavior change, demotion, suspension (with or without pay) or firing. A company need not adhere to a progressive discipline policy, but with the exception of very serious misbehavior, one generally follows step by step to discharge.

A sample HR policy is provided by Employment Law Information Network: The Company will normally adhere to the following progressive disciplinary process:

1. Verbal Caution: An employee will be given a verbal caution when he or she engages in problematic behavior. As the first step in the progressive discipline policy, a verbal caution is meant to alert the employee that a problem may exist or that one has been identified, which must be addressed. Verbal warnings will be documented and maintained by your [designate either appropriate individual (e.g., “your supervisor” or “your manager”]. A verbal caution remains in effect for [specify time (e.g., three months)].

2. Verbal Warning: A verbal warning is more serious than a verbal caution. An employee will be given a verbal warning when a problem is identified that justifies a verbal warning or the employee engages in unacceptable behavior during the period a verbal caution is in effect. Verbal warnings are documented and placed in the employee’s personnel file and will remain in effect for [specify time (e.g., three months)].

3. Written Warning: A written warning is more serious than a verbal warning. A written warning will be given when an employee engages in conduct that justifies a written warning or the employee engages in unacceptable behavior during the period that a verbal warning is in effect. Written warnings are maintained in an employee’s personnel file and remains in effect for [specify time (e.g., three months)].4. Suspension: A suspension without pay is more serious than a written warning. An employee will be suspended when he or she engages in conduct that justifies a suspension or the employee engages in unacceptable behavior during the period that a written warning is in effect. An employee’s suspension will be documented and, regardless of the length of the suspension issued, will remain in effect for [specify time (e.g., three months)].

5 Decision Making Leave: Generally following a suspension, an employee will be reprimanded them sent home for the day on decision making leave. This is intended to help the employee decide whether they should continue employment with the company. If the employee returns, they will be expected to work harder than before to follow the Company guidelines and continue their employment without interruption. The other option with this leave is the employee may choose to resign because employment with the Company is not a match. 6. Termination: An employee will be terminated when he or she engages in conduct that justifies termination or does not correct the matter that resulted in less sever discipline.Again, while the Company will generally take disciplinary action in a progressive manner, it reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to decide whether and what disciplinary action will be taken in a given situation. http://www.elinfonet.com/pickedpol/45

We do not provide legal advice. Possibly you would find information on wrongful discharge by checking such sites as FindLaw: Ten Things to Think About: Wrongful Discharge http://employment.findlaw.com/losing-a-job/ten-things-to-think-about-wrongful-discharge.html Also review an article by Alison Doyle about employee rights when terminated. She refers to the expertise of Jay Warren, counsel in the New York office of Bryan Cave LLP in particular to discrimination-related termination. If you are one who is authorized to give warnings, consult with your superior and/or Human Resources to learn what is your company’s policy. However, don’t check your brains at the door. You will want to both know company policy and to weigh the context of an infraction before you give a warning. Warnings should not be given in anger. The who, when, where, how and why warnings should not generates disrespect for an individual. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that should be the goal of warnings.

William Gorden