It is common practice for a final written warning to be given after multiple written warnings before dismissal. However, can you get a final written warning for first offence?

As an important part of the disciplinary process in any organisation, this is dependent on the circumstances which have to coincide with very strict laws to avoid unfair dismissal claims.

What Does a Final Written Warning Look Like?

Employers must comply with strict legal guidelines when writing any kind of written warning. In regard to a final written warning, this specific information must be included:

  • The behaviour expected of employees at work
  • The date when the employee received a verbal warning/s from management
  • Details of the unacceptable behaviour or misconduct and how many times this occurred
  • The date of expiry when an employee can expect further attention if they continue to perform poorly or behave inappropriately

What is a Final Written Warning?

A final written warning is the final stage of the disciplinary process before dismissal. Its severity is clear from its expiry date; if the employee does not meet all the conditions of the expected behaviour that the employer sets out within this timeframe, they will face dismissal.

What Constitutes a Final Written Warning?

Every situation is different, so there is no definitive list of behaviours that constitute a final written warning. Employers will clearly state the behaviour they expect from their employees in a handbook or during the interview/onboarding process. Anything that goes against this could be considered as unacceptable or misconduct.

Some common reasons for issuing a final written warning are:

  • Breaches of company policy
  • Consistent lateness or absences
  • Rude attitude or disrespect towards colleagues or clients
  • Poor performance
  • Alcohol or drug abuse in the workplace
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Bullying
  • Sexual Harassment

Depending on the severity of the offence, some of these incidents may not constitute a final written warning but immediate dismissal instead.

Can You Get a Final Written Warning Without a Disciplinary Hearing?

The common practice for receiving any kind of written warning is to have a disciplinary hearing. If allegations of misconduct have been made, an investigation will take place as well as a meeting with the employee in question.

Once both sides of the situation have been voiced and taken into consideration, the employer will make the decision of whether further disciplinary action is justified. If it is decided that misconduct occurred, a written warning will be issued.

How Long Does a Final Written Warning Last?

There is no set timeframe for final written warnings, as this is dependent on the specific circumstances of the employee and company policy. However, disciplinary measures must always have a clearly defined expiry date to avoid any legal complexities later down the line.

How Many Written Warnings Am I Entitled to Before Dismissal?

There is no set number of issued written warnings before dismissal. This is because the nature of the issues and individual company policies are all different and this number depends on this information.

In general, one or more warnings are issued before termination of employment. Also, once a written warning has reached its expiry date, this should not affect future misconduct or be held against the employee if other issues arise in the future. In some limited situations and the most extreme cases of misconduct, an employee may be subject to a final written warning or immediate dismissal. If you feel like you have been unfairly dismissed, Premier Legal can help and advise you with your unfair dismissal claim. Call us, email us or visit our website to find out more or get in touch to discuss your situation.