Records Retention for Verbal Warnings

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about records retention:

How long are verbal warnings meant to be kept on file? If an employee is given a warning with a 12 month review period, and they successfully complete this, must that file note be destroyed?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

Your question involves one that many employees and supervisors ask. For one thing, employees think..if it’s a verbal warning why is it in writing? But, most organizations that have progressive discipline require documenting a verbal warning. That sets the verbal warning apart as an official action, rather than the informal redirection and correction that a supervisor may make often in daily work, but without documenting it. The question is, how long to keep warnings on file? The easiest answer is that there is no law about it (at least not in the US, and I don’t think in the UK) so it can be at the discretion of the organization.

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