Recording disciplinary sanctions


  • Disciplinary sanctions can vary from a verbal warning up to a final written warning and/or suspension without pay.
  • The norm for minor misconduct is to commence discipline with a verbal warning (normally after an initial informal discussion).
  • If there is no improvement an employer can then progress to a written warning (sometimes a first and second written warning and then a final written warning).
  • For more serious misconduct it may be appropriate to give a written or a final written warning for a first offence.
  • Guidelines as to the appropriate level of penalty should be followed if they are contained in an employer’s contract of employment or Disciplinary Code.
  • Exceptional forms of disciplinary action include demotion (with loss of pay) and/or suspension without pay for a limited period. These can generally only be imposed as an alternative to dismissal, with the agreement of the employee, as a measure of leniency. If the employee does not accept the proposed alternative, an employer may proceed with dismissal where justifiable.
  • It is important that a record must be kept of all forms of discipline. These may be required to justify a subsequent dismissal, by showing that a progressive / corrective disciplinary process has been followed.
  • The template ‘Record of Disciplinary Sanction’ can be used to record the action taken, the date of the action, and the period of validity.
  • As a guideline, verbal warnings are often valid for 3 to 6 months, written warnings for 6 to 12 months, and final written warnings almost always for 12 months (this period may be longer in some circumstances, for example in the case where a second final written warning is given, after the first has expired).
  • The employee should be requested to sign the employer’s copy of the notice, purely as an acknowledgement of receipt.
  • If he/she refuses, a witness should be requested to sign as confirmation that the notice was handed to the employee.

Record of disciplinary sanction

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