A lot of urban myth surrounds the topic of written warnings. Miles Heffernan says workplace gossip elevate the supposed ‘three written warnings rule’ to the status of Employment Gospel. ‘But it’s BS. The three written warnings law does not exist.”
Have you received a written warning? If so, take it seriously. I get that for many people, their job is not the be-all and end-all. But it puts a roof over your head, food in your belly and pays for the things you love. Losing a job can be devastating. So you need to know the facts, not some BS spouted out the back during a smoke break.
Workplace disputes often prove extremely stressful. Consequently, workers sometimes make silly decisions in response to a formal warning.
However, a sensible and considered response can ensure ongoing employment.
But, if a formal investigation has commenced into your workplace conduct, seek urgent expert advice NOW.
A warning is the first step to terminating your employment. Take either written or verbal formal warnings very seriously.
A warning conveys your boss’s unhappiness with your work and/or attitude or conduct.
In many cases, a warning is the first step to terminating your employment.
If it is valid, you should immediately address the performance, conduct and/or attitude highlighted by your employer.
Signing a written warning
Sometimes employers do try to ‘stitch up’ a worker they want to see the back of. They use formal warnings to create a paper trail to justify an eventual dismissal. The law does not require you to sign a warning letter. You should not do so if you consider the warning unjust or unreasonable.
However, the written warning will form part of your employee record. Legally, your employer must give you an opportunity to respond to the warning. Therefore, if you believe the notice is unjust or unreasonable, you should immediately address those concerns.
What makes a warning unjust or unreasonable?
A written warning should clearly state the grounds for the warning. It should also provide direction on how to remedy the situation.
Importantly, it should allow reasonable time for you to improve the alleged unsatisfactory conduct.
If you believe that the warning is unfair, you should seek urgent expert advice.
Three Written Warnings
The most common misconception we hear is the old gospel of the three written warnings. Workers frequently believe that Australian law requires three written warnings before an employer can fire a worker. Twaddle, nonsense, utter crap, bullshit — choose a phrase of your liking. Not gunna happen.
While many businesses employ a three written warnings approach to manage risk in unfair dismissal claims, it is not a legal requirement.
So do not ever think on receipt of a written warning that you still have two up your sleeve. If you receive a written warning, your employment is at risk. You need to either up your game or prove the warning is unwarranted.
Also remember, if you are fired and feel it’s unfair, you have 21 days from the date of your dismissal to file an unfair dismissal claim. That’s it. 21 days. Seek expert advice immediately.
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