Life Advice

Everything you need to know about getting a warning at work (and your rights)

Dismissal and final warnings can be appropriate for first-time offenders in the workplace, says specialist labour lawyer Craig Berkowitz.

Berkowitz says some offences do not warrant progressive warnings or action.

Read: Dismissal isn't the default outcome of disciplinary action, a lawyer advises

He adds that oral and written warnings carry the same severity. They do not, however, have to be sequential.

Also read: Dismissal isn't the default outcome of disciplinary action, a lawyer advises

Berkowitz explains that warnings do expire and the time period should be outlined in a workplace disciplinary code.

If the time frame of the warning is not made clear, employers are entitled to ask.

Read more: The difference between insubordination and insolence (and which gets you fired)

According to Berkowitz, employers often confuse misconduct with incapacity when issuing warnings.

He advises that unwarranted warnings can be challenged through an unfair labour practice dispute.

Typically, there will be a particular conduct that will precede the warning taking place.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

Performance is not necessarily something that follows the same route as conduct.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

There's a difference between conduct and capacity.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

The lines are often blurred and people often make the mistake of giving a warning when it's actually a performance issue.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

Conduct is more about behaviour than the standard of your work.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

Warnings do expire.

Craig Berkowitz, Specialist Labour Lawyer at Berkowitz Attorneys

The expert shares advice on how to tackle unfair warnings and how to challenge them in an appropriate manner.

Listen to the insightful discussion on the World of Work feature:


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