Warning letter under labour law

In sport, the referee shows yellow and red cards to alert the players of their misconduct. “If you do not follow the rules, you are out! “ A similar system has been created also in the legal world, and that is represented by the “warnings”. A warning letter is similar to a yellow card.

A warning is therefore to point out wrong behaviours or bad performances and eventual warn of dismissal.What many do not know, is that warnings are often incorrectly formulated and for this reason legally vulnerable!If you receive a warning, immediately call an attorney! What is to be observed in the case of a warning?

Is the reason for warning missing?

A warning is only a warning when it is explicitly said what is happened, what is wrong with the employee´s behaviour etc. A mere description of the situation is inadequate and insufficient. For instance, in case of a smoking ban: if the employer writes that the employee smokes in his office, this is not yet considered a warning for misconduct. Only when it is expressly stated in the warning that the employee violates the rules, it can be considered a warning.

Only bad behaviours warnings

A dismissal may have behavioural, personal or business-related reasons, but can only be cautiously justified. The admonition may then only express a decree of order which is conditional on conduct. A special reason is required for extraordinary termination. This regulation is valid within the Employment Protection Legislation.

Only authorized persons are allowed to dismiss other employees

Both employers and employees can issue letters of warning. On the employer’s side, only authorized and qualified persons, including specialist and service supervisors, can issue warnings.

Warning topic =Reason for termination?

A letter of termination can be issued only after two letters of warning. The reason for dismissal has to be connected with the reason of warning. For instance, if an employee has been warned for alcohol consumption at work/alcoholism, this latter cannot be dismissed for „unpunctuality“.

Communication of dismissal

The employer must explicitly announce the termination of the contract. If he does not do so, the warning is not legally valid and thus the termination is void. Formulation example: “If you violate an obligation from the employment contract again, we shall take further measures which may lead to a termination of the employment relationship.” 

The warning has to be understandable:

It is important that the person making the announcement/writing the warning makes it clear to the person concerned that this latter´s behaviour needs to change. For example: if the employees are foreigners, the person in charge to give the information has to make sure to reach to the employees even if there are communication/language-difficulties.

There are no limits to the number of warnings that could be sent /received. The nature of the company, the nature and extent of the breach of duty, the position of the person concerned within the company or the consequences of the misconduct will influence the decision.

Form and Content of the Warning

The person in charge of writing and issuing the warning has to describe the behaviour and list exactly which rules have been broken by the person receiving the warning. He must clearly express what is wrong with the behaviour of the person warned.The warning can be given verbally. For reasons of evidence, however, a written warning is always recommendable.It is important to enclose evidence of the misconduct. If these are missing, the warning is doubtful.

 Removal of a warning from the personnel records

The admonished person is entitled to remove the warning from his personal file in the following cases:• If the warning has lost its effect- The person concerned has been transferred to another work area- The warning is so old that lost its effectiveness• No further misconducts occurred• It is a false or unlawful warningIf the employer is not willing to remove the warning, the person concerned may file a legal action to remedy the expulsion from his personnel records.Statistically, you have really good chances with a lawsuit to remove a warning from your personnel records.

Contact an attorney as soon as possible! We are here for you!

 

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