What length of time is considered appropriate for a final warning?Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 13 December 2017
Q. What length of time is considered appropriate for a final warning?
Scott: Is 18 months a reasonable time period for a duration of a final warning or should it be 12?
Seamus: Well, that's interesting because I have had circumstances where it's both but your first protocol must always be to go back to your policy and procedure and see what it says.
Scott: If you haven't changed it.
Seamus: Yeah. The general position is that the average I would say certainly would be 12 months and in respect of the length of time for a final written warning you want it to be in place. And sometimes I will look at it and I will say, the policies and procedures for clients if they provide me might say that we have a choice of getting a 12 month or a 24 month. It'll even come as far as that. But the reality is, if it says 12 months in your policy and procedure, you're going to have difficulty moving outside of that. And I think that's the bottom line with it.
Whether you get bite back from an employee who is on the brink of dismissal and you pull it back and say, "I'm going to give you a final written warning and we're going to extend the period, you might get too much of a bite back from an employee in terms of what they might be appreciative of the fact that they're not losing their job, so to speak.
Scott: And that one would be similar to extending a probationary period. They're going to complain too much because the alternative is they'll get sacked.
Seamus: Yes. Exactly. There's that element of it. But certainly, I think that if you decided that you were going for 18 months, your policy said 12 and the employee felt that that was a breach, and you ended up at tribunal. The tribunal will be taken with your, sorry, your policy procedure says 12 months.
More on Disciplinary & Grievance
- How much detail of allegations are we required to give an employee in advance of an investigative meeting?
- Can An Employer Commence Disciplinary Proceedings Against Employees Who Refuse To Have A COVID-19 Vaccine?
- Third Party Dissatisfaction With Employee Performance – How Do I Handle It?
- Kubilius v Kent Foods Limited 
- Partridge v University of Northampton 
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.