In my last post, we covered verbal warnings and how to issue one. We explained that there are informal and formal verbal (or oral) warnings, the difference being that a formal verbal warning is reduced to writing and a record of its issue is therefore kept.

A written warning is a more severe step in the corrective process of applying discipline in the workplace. If an employee commits a relatively serious act of misconduct or if he or she has already been issued with a verbal warning and has now committed the same or a similar offence again, the employer…


In previous posts, we covered the principle of progressive discipline as a means to correct employees’ behaviour or poor performance and we also covered which warnings are appropriate for which offences. Now we will have a look at the practical side of actually issuing the warnings. This is an area that is not often covered and whilst there is very little required from a strict legal perspective in terms of how warnings need to be issued, there are certain crucial elements that need to be observed in order to uphold the principle of fairness when issuing warnings.

As previously discussed…


In another article, I covered the subject of progressive discipline, principle in South African law whereby employers are encouraged to correct their employees’ behaviour by applying a system of graduated disciplinary measures such as counselling and warnings and only if this fails, to dismiss. It is therefore commonplace to find that companies’ disciplinary policies will very often provide for verbal warnings, written warnings and final written warnings for various offences and reserve dismissal for the most serious forms of misconduct. Which warning, however, is appropriate for which offence?

Obviously, the least “severe” form of warning is a verbal warning. This…


All businesses need their employees to contribute meaningfully to the goals of the company. Disciplinary action is a management tool that can be used to achieve this purpose. Author Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great talks about getting the right people on the bus:

Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about who and then about what. When facing chaos and uncertainty, and you cannot possibly predict what’s coming…


South African Labour Law: When should I counsel my employees in terms of a disciplinary policy and how do I do it?

Counselling in the workplace can be a tremendously powerful tool or it can be a waste of time, depending on the circumstances and the parties involved. Often, companies will build counselling in as an official step in their disciplinary process — as a part of the principle of progressive discipline. This is not, in my opinion, correct, for two reasons.

Firstly, as stated, there are certain circumstances when counselling may be the best type of intervention that you…

Gordon Angus

Gordon is the founder of Gordon Angus and Associates, an industrial relations and employment law consultancy and training company in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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