Warnings to employees


An employer who wishes to sanction one of their employees for behaviour which is unsuitable to the functioning of the company (without however terminating their employment relationship) has the possibility to do so by issuing them with a warning. It is also recommended to use this sanction before proceeding with a possible dismissal with notice or to a possible dismissal without notice so that the employee is duly informed as to what they are accused of to allow them to adapt their behaviour to the proper functioning of the company.


The reasons

The warning comes into play when an employee does not comply with their obligations under the employment contract but the continuation of the employment relationship is still possible. The employer is required to be able to justify it by a real and serious reason (e.g. chronic delays at work, refusal to use appropriate work tools, numerous private phone calls during working hours).

An employer who has warned an employee for an act can no longer punish the employee for that same act. However, in the event of a new misconduct by the employee, the employer may invoke the previous warning in support of a new disciplinary sanction such as dismissal.

The formalities

No details are specified in the law. However, it is advisable to give notice of the warning within a reasonable period of time after becoming aware of the fact alleged against the employee. In addition, it is recommended to notify it in writing either by sending a registered letter or by hand delivery (signed in duplicate).

The letter must be written in a language understood by the employee and must state that it is a warning. It is also essential to specify to the employee the exact fact for which he or she is being reproached so that they can modify their behaviour. Other elements may also be indicated to the employee depending on the situation, such as a reminder of the rule which has not been respected, a reminder of the duties to be performed by the employee, the precise consequences of the offence, or a reminder of previous warnings (if any).

The financial impact

In principle, no financial compensation can be demanded from the employee following a warning. There be a financial impact to the employee's disadvantage only in very exceptional cases, notably for example when the employee causes damage through wilful intent or gross negligence and the damage is not covered by the employer's insurance. However, the employer must prove these various conditions in order to expect partial or total reimbursement from the employee.