Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on hello@boards.ie for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact hello@boards.ie

Written Warnings

Options
  • 23-01-2012 4:28pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 30


    I need to issue an employee with a written warning over an incident that happened at the weekend. We are a small business, no HR department etc, I've googled "written warning procedures" and there seems to be a conflicting advice given, some people say you must give a verbal first, some say the warning needs to be given with a 3rd party as a witness etc, can anyone help me out and clarify the correct preocedure? Thanks in advance.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 47 player101


    mrsnicey wrote: »
    I need to issue an employee with a written warning over an incident that happened at the weekend. We are a small business, no HR department etc, I've googled "written warning procedures" and there seems to be a conflicting advice given, some people say you must give a verbal first, some say the warning needs to be given with a 3rd party as a witness etc, can anyone help me out and clarify the correct preocedure? Thanks in advance.

    It really depends on the seriousness of the offence, if it is something like time keeping then its verbal written written. If its something more serious like caling the manager a knut then you can go straight to written as it is not something that would need warnings but to play it safe you are always best to have a witness and do verbal first if possible.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30 mrsnicey


    Thanks player101, it's serious unfortunately. I'll take a witness in with me so, thanks for replying.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,317 ✭✭✭✭seamus


    There is no legal or "correct" procedure for this. Each company decides on their own procedure. There is no "must" for disciplining an employee.
    However from a legal perspective, a company is best protected from being sued for unfair dismissal if they have a disciplinary process which is transparent and applied fairly.

    Most companies use 3, 4 or 5-step approaches.

    The last step is dismissal and the first step is usually a verbal warning, with steps in between being written warnings.

    You can skip as many steps as is deemed appropriate, though in most cases a company will stick to the process and only skip to the last or second-last steps if necessary.

    If it's practical in your case, the best approach is to have a formal meeting with four parties:

    1. The investigator/instigator, who compiles the complaint into a written document.
    2. The decision maker - typically a higher level of management who is presented with the case and decides on whether to issue the warning/dismissal.
    3. The employee
    4. The witness - someone who is nominated by the employee to attend any meeting in relation to the warning as an independent (not necessarily impartial) observer. They can be an advocate for the employee, but their role isn't really to fight their corner, rather just to ensure that the company are acting fairly and impartially.

    Both the employee and their witness can review the document and dispute anything in it or ask for corrections. The witness is optional, if the employee doesn't really dispute the incident, they may choose not to bring a witness.

    Many companies do away with the meeting for a verbal warning, but will use it for the more serious levels.

    Your main aim here is to ensure that the warning isn't a tete-a-tete between an employee and their manager and that it's open and fair so that it doesn't bite the company in the ass later on.

    This would be a good opportunity to stick a formal documented procedure together so you know how to handle these in future.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30 mrsnicey


    Seamus many thanks for taking the time to reply, very informative.


  • Registered Users Posts: 281 ✭✭Maglight


    It's also important to show that the process wasn't a foregone conclusion and that you went into it with an open mind.
    1. You tell the employee that you would like to have a meeting with them to discuss the issue. And explain what the issue is
    2. Invite them to bring a third party along for support
    3. Share your evidence with them at the meeting and ask them for their side of the story. You cannot go into this meeting with an assumption of guilt.
    4. Go away to consider their response and you next action, giving them a clear timeline on when you will make your decision
    5. Meet them again to explain your decision and issue a written warning if appropriate. With third party invited again..
    6. Ask them to sign that they have received and understood the warning
    7. Clearly outline what improvements you expect to see, if any. Offer support to help the employee improve and set clear timelines for review of performance/behaviour with a clear process in place if they don't improve.

    In general, never meet the employee on your own and document and date everything, even informal conversations.
    If you are going through a performance related disciplinary action, then it's vital that you give a reasonable amount of time for the employee to improve. You can't rush the process. You also need to be seen to give the employee the support and training necessary to improve. And you have to apply the same standards to all staff. So, if there are other people who are falling down you have to put them through the process also, otherwise you will be accused of favouritism.

    And if you can do all that, don't prejudge, don't rush it, document everything and keep the employee informed in advance. You may just get away without having to pay at an unfair dismissals tribunal. But chances are you'll get stuck with some damages.

    Alternatively, take your chances, fire them if they are causing you a real headache, save yourself a year's salary as you go through the disciplinary/performance improvement process and reach a settlement before it goes to court. Move on with your business and get someone in who will do the job better and help the business.


  • Advertisement
  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,451 ✭✭✭Delancey


    Maglight beat me to it ! All correct - you appear to have made up your mind but you must give the employee an opportunity to refute any allegations.
    If you appear to have acted without allowing them an opportunity to defend themselves then you could be held to be in the wrong.
    Keep a written record of everything - remember this saying : '' If its not written down then it never happened ''.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30 mrsnicey


    Great advice from everyone, thanks so much. Feeling alot more confident about how to approach what I have to do. Not looking forward to having to do it but what happened cannot go without being addressed and really does warrant disciplinary action.


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,993 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash


    mrsnicey - The employee may have a representative with them eg a trade union official. When you decide the consequences of the conduct they may request a you to consider a more lenient approach. Even if you do not wish to do this, take a break to 'consider' their request even if you have no intention of considering it. When you return you can decline the request but it puts you in a better light than flatly declining it at the table.

    A trade union official may request a meeting with you prior to the formal meeting. this is perfectly normal and they usually do it to make sure they are not being led up the garden path by their member. I used to sit on the other side of the table and used to make sure I gots the facts before representing anyone. I got caught a couple of times defending the indefensible!

    Maglight wrote: »
    You cannot go into this meeting with an assumption of guilt
    I wouldn't always agree. Anytime I've had to conduct a disciplinary procedure it was because the contuct was blatant. If one was unsure, it would have been established informally prior to any disciplinary procedure and may not have necessitated such procedure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 24,993 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash


    Just another thing - keep the meeting tightly focused on the specific relevant conduct/incident. Employees may feel cornered and tend to grasp at everything they see wrong with the employer, the system, other employees etc.
    Simply say that while you appreciate their concerns, this meeting is specifically about your conduct on.......You can also offer to meet them some other time to discuss their other concerns (although in my experience they never seek that meeting).


Advertisement