Who Is Supposed To Give Final Warning?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about final warning:

Is it the management’s job to give the final written warning on a disciplinary action? I have been told it’s the law and that a supervisor/cell leader doesn’t do it.

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

I think you may be writing from the U.K. You should check with HR in your company to see if there are internal requirements or union requirements about how disciplinary cases are handled. There is no law there or here in the U.S. that requires a specific rank or position to give an employee a written personnel action. In most organizations in the United States a supervisor or direct manager is the one who talks to an employee about discipline and “serves” papers about it. The argument is that they are the closest to the employee and they should be an integral part of each employment action. (They also would give the employee commendations or positive actions.)

Often HR is involved in these processes as well, but nearly always a supervisor or mid-manager is present or at least has some role. Usually by the time a person is at the final warning stage the most important thing is not who serves the paperwork but what the future holds for the employee. The employee should work most closely with his or her own supervisor to find out the key issues: What must the employee start doing, what must the employee stop doing and what must the employee change or improve overall.Final warnings are not dismissals. They give the employee a chance to make the changes required on the job. Sometimes the employee needs to ask for training to help him or her do the job better. Or, he or she has to make the commitment to do the work in the way required. Sometimes it’s not about work, it’s about relationships. In some cases the employee can help improve those and in some cases it is the supervisor who is contributing the most to the problem. Nearly always though, if the employee wants the job he or she can find ways to adjust enough to keep it. (That’s not always an easy decision, though!) I hope these thoughts not only answer your essential question but also help you decide how to proceed in your situation. Make sure you understand exactly what you have been warned about and how to fulfill the requirements of the job in the future. Then, you can decide if you can do it and if you are willing to do it. Best wishes to you with all of this.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.