Disciplinary, Dismissal & Grievance Procedures

Guidance for employers

Formal warning

If the issue isn’t resolved or the matter is very serious, you should tackle the matter more formally. Invite the employee to a meeting and have a formal discussion with him or her. The employee has the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative. If you are not satisfied with the employee’s explanation you should write the employee a letter setting out the problem, what you expect him or her to do about it, when you expect to see an improvement and what you will do if there is no improvement. Where the employee’s poor performance or misconduct is sufficiently serious, for example because it is having a serious harmful effect on the business, it may be appropriate to issue a final written warning.

For example, an employee in a small shop is responsible for unlocking the premises every morning, but arrives unacceptably late. If informal discussions do not resolve the issue, the employer could issue a final written warning, after holding a formal meeting. The final written warning could state that if the employee is late at any time during the next 6 months, he or she would be subject to dismissal procedures.

A final written warning should give details of and the grounds for the complaint. It should warn the employee that failure to improve or modify behaviour may lead to dismissal, and it should refer to the right of appeal. A tribunal is unlikely to find a dismissal to be fair unless you gave a final written warning (except in cases of gross misconduct).

If the situation still does not improve, and you feel further action against the employee is necessary you should start the standard procedure.

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