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Information on Warnings

Information extracted from the internet, not original of this website:

Because of the progressively corrective nature of disciplinary action, the sanction applied should also be progressive in nature. Depending on the severity of the offense and the circumstances under which it as committed, the sanction can range from a verbal warning through to a written warning, a final written warning and dismissal. Warnings do not necessarily have to follow the order of verbal – written – final written – dismissal, unless the employer has made provision for this procedure in his Disciplinary Code

Thus, if the employer's Code states that for a first offense of misconduct a verbal warning must be given and for the second offense of a similar nature a written warning must be given, then for the third offense a final written warning then on the fourth offense dismissal, then the employer is generally bound to follow his own procedure. It is therefore possible to dismiss even on a first offense and without any prior warnings having been issued, but that will depend on the severity of the offense, the circumstances under which it was committed, and the provisions of the employer's Disciplinary Code.

There are certain elements that must be contained in a warning. The purpose of the warning is to try and correct a situation, if necessary by progressively more severe sanction each time the offense is repeated, or if there are repeated offenses of misconduct.

A warning must contain:

  • the identity of both parties
  • the nature of, date of and time of the offense
  • the terms of the warning and validity period
  • clear statement of what action is required of the guilty party to rectify the situation
  • clear statement of the consequences of the guilty party's failure to take heed of the requirements of the warning or of repeated offenses (of similar or other misconduct)

A verbal warning is usually applied for a very minor offense, where the matter is resolved at shop floor level. Where a verbal warning is warranted, it is seldom necessary to embark on formal disciplinary procedures, and an informal procedure culminating in a verbal warning will generally achieve the desired result. As in every case, prior to issuing the warning, the manager concerned must follow a fair procedure and allow the employee the opportunity to put his side of the case.

The verbal warning is then issued, in the presence of a witness or shop steward, and the manager issuing the warning must ensure that the employee understand why the warning has been issued and what action is required of the employee to rectify the situation, and – very importantly – the employee must understand what the consequences will be should he/she fail to take heed of the warning. A verbal warning, say for swearing at a colleague, would be something like this"

Reference is made to the above disciplinary proceeding, wherein you were charged with insubordination in that you either refused, failed or neglected to carry out a reasonable and lawful instruction given by Mr. John Foreman, to whit that you were instructed to park your truck in the workshop for the night of 30th March 2010 because the normal parking area had already been locked up for the night by security staff.

You refused, failed or neglected to carry out this instruction with the result that the battery of the truck was stolen during the night because you left the truck parked in the yard , incurring the company in expenses of R800-00 for a new battery. (the employee has been identified and the date, time , place and nature of the offense clearly stated)

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