Supervisors issue a verbal warning to an employee when poor performance warrants a disciplinary action more severe than supervisory counseling. The purpose of the verbal warning is to get the employee's attention. It's provided following the failure of informal supervisory coaching to help the employee improve the required performance.
The warning is documented by the supervisor in his or her informal notes about the counseling he or she has provided to help the employee improve. This is included with any other written documentation that the supervisor maintains such as employee goals, progress, back up information for the employee's performance development plan (PDP) or performance appraisal, and so forth. These notes are not part of an employee's personnel file; they are private supervisory documentation of an employee's performance.
Disciplinary Action for the Employee Personnel File
The verbal warning is generally followed, in disciplinary action procedures, by a written verbal warning that begins the documentation of disciplinary action in the employee's personnel file. The written verbal warning provides the beginning of the documentation necessary for an organization to fire an employee. If an employee's performance fails to improve during a series of disciplinary action steps, the employer has legally documented the steps taken to help an employee improve and retain employment.
Through this process, the employer has demonstrated the steps taken by the employer to help the employee improve performance. The employer has also demonstrated that he or she did take necessary action to help an employee improve and that subsequent disciplinary action was not arbitrary.
While the steps in disciplinary action, that include a verbal warning, differ from company to company, and even within a company, depending on the nature of the non-performance, a verbal warning is a negative event. The employee has failed to perform at a level the employer determines requires disciplinary action. In keeping with the disciplinary action policy outlined in the employee handbook, a verbal warning may be the first, the last, or the only step required before employment termination, depending on the severity of the non-performance or the precipitating event.
Here is information about how to write a letter of reprimand. A written verbal warning is an employee reprimand and would follow the same pattern.
Sample Letters of Reprimand
Disclaimer: Please note that Susan makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense, ethical Human Resources management, employer, and workplace advice on this website, but she is not an attorney, and the content on the site is not to be construed as legal advice. The site has a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so the site cannot be definitive on all of them for your workplace. When in doubt, always seek legal counsel. The information on the site is provided for guidance only, never as legal advice.