Written Warning for an Employee

It is a requirement to give a written warning for an employee before a termination of the employment contract.

According to the Employment Contract Act, employees who have neglected their duties arising from the employment relationship or committed a breach thereof shall not be given notice, however, before they have been warned and given a chance to amend his conduct. Before giving a warning, notice shall not be given.

There are no formal requirements for giving a warning for an employee.Therefore, it can be given as an oral warning or as a written warning. To avoid disputes and difficulties in proving or witnessing, it is recommended to give a written warning.

Employer can ask employee to confirm in written that he has received the warning.  However, this does not mean that the employee has or will accept the grounds for the warning.

Purpose of a Warning

The purpose of a warning is to let the employee know that the employee has neglected his/her duties arising from the employment relationship or committed a breach. Furthermore, while giving a warning, the employer expresses his/her own attitude towards the employee’s action which is that he does not accept the employee’s actions and that the employee will face termination if the behavior continues. Moreover, the purpose of a warning is to give the employee a chance to amend his conduct.


A warning shall be specific and clear. The employee shall also understand, what is incorrect in his actions.

Moreover, he shall be aware that the warning concerns explicitly him. Thus a collective remark e.g. in a common meeting about too slow working tempo does not qualify the lawful requirements of a warning.

The warning shall have relevant and temporal relation with termination of employment contract.

A relevant relation means that the eventual termination is based on the same or similar grounds mentioned in the warning. Temporal relation means that the interval between warning and termination cannot be too long.

The question is, how an “old” warning can get significance in case of termination of employment contract. The rule of thumb is, that if the warning has been given over a year ago, it will be without significance.

The employer shall be consequent with the warnings. If it has been a practice in the working place that the first warning is oral and the following is written, the employer should follow the same procedure with all the employees. The employer is to comply with the principle of equitability mentioned in the Contracts of Employment Act.

When no warning is needed?

However, a warning is not always necessary. If the ground for termination of the employment contract is such a severe offence relating to the employment, that the employer will not in all fairness be expected to continue the employment relations, it is not necessary to give a warning beforehand.

© 2024 Asianajotoimisto Lindblad