Final written warning to employee about misconduct

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What’s a final written warning to an employee about misconduct and when do you need it?

This letter forms part of our suite of materials to support you where you have invoked your disciplinary policy and its process because of inappropriate conduct by one of your employees. It is called the ‘final’ warning because there are other steps that it might be advisable for you to have taken first if you have not already done so.

At the very least, you should have had a meeting with the employee to explain your concerns about their conduct – this is the ‘disciplinary hearing’ referred to in the first paragraph of our template. It is important to ensure that the employee was told in advance that the earlier meeting was a disciplinary meeting and about the range of potential consequences/sanctions that might be applied following the discussions at that disciplinary meeting.

So, normally, this would not be the first time that the employee has been warned by you about their conduct.

And if you have not considered the earlier letters in this template suite, such as an invitation to informal discussion about conduct or behavior or the first formal warning in a disciplinary process you should consider whether it would be more appropriate to complete these first.

Although it is normally considered unduly harsh to issue a final written warning if a first written warning has not previously been issued, there may be circumstances where this can be justified, for example, if the employee’s misconduct has been serious but falls short of gross misconduct justifying dismissal.

We strongly recommend you take legal advice if you’re intending to do this, as having an expert steer on how best to draft this letter, specifically your reasons for taking this approach and the sanctions that you are applying, can make all the difference between a smooth and rapid running process and one that rapidly escalates into something a lot bigger, riskier and distracting.