Difference Between Verbal and Written Warning

Verbal vs Written Warning
 

The difference between verbal warning and written warning might seem relatively clear-cut at first sight. Verbal warning and written warning, particularly in a legal context, represent the stages in a formal disciplinary and/or corrective action. For those of us who are not familiar with the terms, verbal warning and written warning primarily exist within a company’s disciplinary policies and most companies issue such warnings as part of a corrective procedure. Traditionally, the terms are collectively defined as a series of steps carried out to discipline an employee or correct his/her performance at work. These steps are not only limited to verbal and written warnings but also include suspension and/or termination. However, the concern of this article is only the verbal and written warning, which can be distinguished by the fact that a verbal warning precedes a written warning. Further, it must be noted that while most companies adhere strictly to these stages of disciplinary action others might carry out such procedures slightly differently.

What is Verbal Warning?

The term verbal warning has been defined as a warning issued to an employee by the employee’s manager or supervisor concerning discipline and/or a performance issue. It is typically issued during a conversation between the employee and the supervisor. A verbal warning represents the first step in the corrective process. The purpose behind such a warning is to inform the employee of his/her performance or behaviour and thereby give room for the correction of such performance or behaviour. This issue could either be a violation of the company’s standards or rules, the commission of minor offences such as constant absenteeism, or the performance of unsatisfactory work.

When issuing a verbal warning, the supervisor or manager must follow a fair procedure. The procedure in issuing a verbal warning may differ from company to company. However, in general, it should adopt certain steps such as issuing the warning privately, stating the problem specifically, and giving the employee the opportunity to explain his/her side, stating clearly the expected performance and standards required of the employee, and finally, documenting the conversation during which the verbal warning was issued. This documented verbal warning must typically include the name of the employee, date of the warning, the problem and expected performance. Documentation of a verbal warning represents an informal record of the same, and it is placed in the employee’s file. The ultimate objective of a verbal warning is to give the employee another opportunity to correct his/her behaviour or performance. It is akin to receiving a second chance.

Difference Between Verbal and Written Warning

Verbal warning is issued during a conversation

What is Written Warning?

In simple terms, a written warning is a warning issued in written form. It is traditionally defined as a letter written to an employee. This type of letter specifically states the problems in relation to his/her performance or conduct and details the consequences if such behaviour or performance is not corrected or improved within a specific period. A written warning represents the second stage in the process of corrective and disciplinary action. Generally, a written warning follows a verbal warning. Thus, the employee has already been issued a warning verbally, and the lack of improvement or failure to correct the behaviour in issue results in a written warning. Therefore, a written warning is more serious than a verbal warning.

Companies issue a written warning in situations where the verbal warning previously issued has failed to correct the said issue, or the employee has repeated the same offence or violation. Written warnings are typically given in cases pertaining to absenteeism, abusive language, damage to company property, unsatisfactory performance, lack of punctuality, and others including commission of crimes such as violence or drug use. Typically, the employee must sign the notice containing the written warning and a copy of the same is placed on the employee’s record and given to the human resources department.

 Verbal vs Written Warning

Written warning is issued in writing

What is the difference between Verbal and Written Warning?

• Definition of Verbal and Written Warning:

• A verbal warning is a warning given by a supervisor or manager of an employee in relation to an issue concerning the employee’s behaviour or performance at work.

• A written warning is a letter issued by the company stating the problem pertaining to the conduct or performance of the employee and the consequences if it is not rectified.

• Medium:

• Verbal warning is a warning made orally.

• Written warning is a warning made using writing.

• Order:

• A verbal warning is issued first if there is any discipline and/or performance issue.

• A written warning is issued following a verbal warning and in the event the employee has failed to correct his/her actions despite the verbal warning.

• Purpose:

• The purpose of a verbal warning is to inform the employee of his/her performance or behavioural issue and thereby give an opportunity to correct him/her.

• A written warning is issued to inform the consequences if the said behaviour or performance issue is not corrected or improved within a specific period.

• Issues:

• Verbal warnings are issued in situations such as  violation of the company’s standards or rules, the commission of minor offences such as constant absenteeism, or the performance of unsatisfactory work.

• Written warnings are issued in situations pertaining to absenteeism, abusive language, damage to company property, unsatisfactory performance, lack of punctuality, and others including commission of crimes such as violence or drug use.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. People talking bAaron Friedman (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Typing via Wikicommons (Public Domain)