Written Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about written warning:

Does a written warning need to be signed? How long between warnings is valid when unaware of a second warning being given?

Signed, My Signature

Dear My Signature:

Your questions about warnings add to the many we have gotten. In short, we’ve advised that signing a warning indicates you have seen it, not that you agree with it. Being shown a warning provides an opportunity to respond to it by apologizing and/or composing an explanation that might be inserted with it where it is filed.

We don’t provide legal advice, but I know of no state or federal labor laws requiring an employee must be notified of warnings; however, it makes sense that one should be. Why else are they given but to inform an employee that she/he must behave differently? Most likely if there is a policy with respect to time between warnings it is company specific policy and practice. Your question regarding a second warning suggests that you and your boss are not on the same page.

Might it be smart to have a frank discussion with her/him and possibly an apology and commitment to abide by the rules rather than to worry about if you have to sign a warning? If you had done as we advise before sending your questions, you would have been able to scan dozens of Q&As on this topic. You would have found: Other Crimes & Punishments Warning Other Crimes & Punishments What is the Requirement for a Final Warning Other Crimes & Punishments Content of Written Warning Other Crimes & Punishments Employee Secretly Recorded A Meeting Other Crimes & Punishments How Many Verbal Warnings Before Written? Other Crimes & Punishments Problem Behavior At Workplace While Off-Duty Other Crimes & Punishments Who Is Supposed To Give Final Warning? Other Crimes & Punishments In Trouble For A Coworker’s Mistake Other Crimes & Punishments Verbal And Witten Warnings Other Crimes & Punishments Rules About Workplace Warnings? Other Crimes & Punishments Verbal Warning Required Before Suspension Other Crimes & Punishments Written Responses To Verbal Warnings Other Crimes & Punishments How Specific Should Verbal Warnings Be? Other Crimes & Punishments My Employer Believes A Disgruntled Tenant Other Crimes & Punishments Should Verbal Warnings Be Put In Writing? Other Crimes & Punishments What Is Procedure For A Verbal Warning? Other Crimes & Punishments Requirements for Written Warnings Other Crimes & Punishments Final Written Warning! Other Crimes & Punishments Should Verbal Warnings Be Documented In Writing? Other Crimes & Punishments Signing A Verbal Warning? Other Personnel Matters Is This Correct? Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warnings Other Personnel Matters Proper Way To Provide A Written Warning Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warnings Acknowledged? Other Personnel Matters Do Written Labor Warnings Erase After A Time? Other Personnel Matters Suspended For Two Weeks Other Personnel Matters A Verbal Warning I Never Saw… Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warning Other Personnel Matters Should I Sign? Other Personnel Matters Written Warnings Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warnings Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warning Other Personnel Matters Construction and Employee Contracts Other Personnel Matters Records Retention for Verbal Warnings Other Personnel Matters Falsely Accused Of Improper Language Other Personnel Matters An Unfair Warning Other Personnel Matters Verbal Warning Other Personnel Matters Is This Retaliation? Other Personnel Matters Assaulted–Psych Reasons! Performance Appraisals Given Second Warning Performance Appraisals Questions About My Performance Review Performance Appraisals Verbal Warning??? Promotions/New Jobs How Do I Get More Respect, Nicely? Promotions/New Jobs Ugly Work Situation Quitting/Getting Fired Fired After Arbitration Hearing. What Now? Quitting/Getting Fired Is A First Verbal Warning a Formal Action? Quitting/Getting Fired Fired After I Complained About a Coworker Quitting/Getting Fired Final Written Warning Quitting/Getting Fired Worry About Keeping My Job Quitting/Getting Fired Verbal Warning I Can Be Fired Quitting/Getting Fired Verbal And Written Warnings Quitting/Getting Fired Three Verbal Warnings Quitting/Getting Fired Written Warnings Quitting/Getting Fired What Can I Do About Being Framed and Fired? Quitting/Getting Fired Verbal Warning Quitting/Getting Fired Are Warnings Required Before Firing? So review at least several of these to learn what others have asked and our advice.

Feel free to tell us if any of it makes sense. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, my signature sentence, doesn’t directly address your questions. Rather it addresses the attitude that motivates questions about warnings. That is to suggest a warning indicates a boss interprets an employee’s action negatively and not in keeping with the good of the workplace. A warning is not a time to be defensive or to become obsessed with it, but to reflect on one’s attitude and performance. It’s a time to renew commitment to collaborate and to do the work for which one is hired.

William Gorden