Issuing verbal warnings to staff: 5 things to think about

Verbal warning are frequently misunderstood by employers when using them as part of the disciplinary process.

While they may sound informal there are a number of key requirements you must follow if you want to stay within employment laws.

Failure to do so could undermine any further disciplinary action you take and land your business in a tribunal, so it is important to have set procedures in place that you can follow when required.

Here are a few things to think about:-

Notify the person in writing about the meeting

You cannot just call someone in or walk up to their desk and warn them verbally. You must write to them, asking them to attend a meeting at a set time and place.

Tell them what it is about

In one case an employer invited a long-serving member of staff to a ‘review’ meeting and then ambushed them with a verbal warning. The employer came off badly at the ensuing tribunal.

In inviting the person to the meeting you must state the purpose and set out the reasons for the warning so they can prepare their defence.

Explain their right to be accompanied

The employee is entitled to bring either a colleague or a trade union representative to the meeting, as their companion. You must explain this to them in writing when you invite them to attend.

Keep scrupulous records

This applies to every stage of the process, from recording the times, dates and locations of incidents that led to the warning to minuting what is discussed during the warning meeting.

You should write to your employee to confirm the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, and to advise them that they have a right to appeal.

If you do not have HR specialists within your business it is a good idea to review your policies and procedures from time to time. Employment laws are constantly changing.

To discuss a review or any matter relating to employing people, please get in touch.


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