There are different types of warnings or official reprimands in the workplace that are available to employers to manage their employees. As is the case with all labour legislation, it is crucial that human resource managers are fully aware of these different warnings, when they are applicable and what the ramifications are for all parties.
Human capital management specialist CRS Technologies says companies are often so focused on their core business that they neglect to keep up with regulations.
When it comes to disciplinary processes and procedures, this oversight can lead a business down a very risky path.
“It is important for business leaders and human resource managers to bear in mind that there are commonly three categories of warnings: verbal, written and final written. Why is it important to distinguish between these? Well, there are legally binding implications to each of these warnings for both the employer and the employee, and not following the directive of the law would render the entire process null and void,” says Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit.
A good place to start for any business is to understand exactly what a disciplinary warning is.
CRS Technologies defines this as “A disciplinary warning is an oral or written statement made by an employer informing the employee that their conduct and/or performance level is not acceptable and that any further failure to meet the required standards will result in stronger measures being taken.”
Next, a critical rule for human resource managers to follow is to never misuse disciplinary warnings.
“Each company has its own code of conduct which outlines its own specific levels of severity. Some forms of misconduct result in a basic verbal warning, while others can lead directly to a final written warning or even a dismissal,” adds Myburgh. “It is essential to know your code of conduct before applying any of the warnings.”
Further, a verbal warning refers to a situation in which an employer verbally informs an employee that in the event their work/behaviour or conduct at work doesn’t change or improve, the employee may face further sanctions.
If the situation necessitates a written warning as the next appropriate action, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Myburgh explains, “It is extremely important that, during a disciplinary process, a company is guided by the provisions contained in Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act. Disciplinary action will only ever consider dismissal as a last resort, and this process is intended to be a behaviour corrective process and not a punitive one.”
CRS Technologies adds that the written warning should communicate what the underperformance/misconduct issue is, and the corrective action required. It must also include what action will be taken if the employee does not meet the said requirements, as well as detail previous warnings and dates of issue and dates for performance/conduct to be re-evaluated.
“As always, the CRS team is on hand to guide you through any disciplinary process. We have a highly experienced human capital management legal team in place to help,” says Myburgh.