Write a warning: 5 instructions for employers

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If an employee violates his employment contract duties, then his boss can write him a warning. The supervisor has to adhere to certain specifications. If he does not, it is ineffective in case of doubt.

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1. The meaning of a warning

With a warning, a supervisor draws attention to a violation of the employment contract. It is in a sense a shot in front of the bug , which points out the employee's wrongdoing. This gives the person concerned the chance to improve in the future. If he does not do so, then a warning is the prerequisite for a later behavioral termination.

Important: If a subordinate is not warned by a warning on a continuous misconduct, this can be understood as tacit acquiescence by the employer.

2. The reasons for a warning

Before supervisors write a warning, they should clarify whether it is appropriate. This is because serious reasons are necessary. Which ones are always depends on the situation. Basically, the misconduct must significantly disrupt the peace of business or affect workflows.

Examples of general, serious violations are:

  • Bullying or harassment in the workplace
  • refusal to work
  • Theft in the enterprise
  • Working under the influence of alcohol
  • Smoking despite internal prohibition
  • Constant delay
  • Unauthorized sideline activities
  • Frequent unexcused absence

The decisive factor is that the employee's misconduct violates main and secondary contractual obligations .

Nevertheless, it does not necessarily come to a warning. Perhaps the problem can be solved by talking to the employee. Some collective agreements even require such a dialogue.

3. The correct content of the warning

Many employers ask themselves: How do I write a warning? The structure can follow this pattern:

  • Address data of the employer
  • Address data of the employee
  • Subject: Warning
  • salutation
  • Description of the facts
  • Date and signature
  • If necessary, the passage to be signed by the addressee that he has received or acknowledged the warning.

Much more important than its structure is the content of the text. He must meet certain requirements , so that the warning corresponds to the labor law. These include three essential elements:

  • The R├╝gefunktion must designate concretely the misbehavior. This does not only include which contractual obligation the employee has violated, but also how, where and when exactly. Simple statements such as "often came too late" or "did not do his job properly" are not enough and quickly go to court.
  • The proof function proves the violation by written confirmation of the persons concerned and witnesses.
  • The warning function must show the consequences that will have its behavior when he does not behave according to the contract the employees. This includes the threat of behavioral termination. If she is missing, then it is only an admonition.

4. Common mistakes in the warning

Even minor defects can invalidate a warning. Employers should therefore avoid these mistakes:

  • Bundling several violations in one warning : If only one violation is ineffective, then the others are the same.
  • Multiple warn the same offense : On the warning of a misconduct must be followed by renewed, same offense directly the termination.
  • To react too late with a termination : There is no specific deadline in which a termination must follow a warning. But an employee has the right to a limitation period.
  • Write too many warnings : If an employer often takes the reminder, the labor court can question its seriousness.

5. Most secure: reminder by mail or bailiff

Legal warnings in written form (for example, by letter, fax or e-mail) and also verbally . However, an oral warning should be given to the employer by the employee and / or witnesses in writing. Because: The employer must always be able to prove that the employee has actually received the warning.

The safest way is therefore the delivery by mail as a registered mail or registered letter with return receipt or by means of a bailiff.


  • A warning is possible for breaches of employment obligations.
  • It should be justified in as much detail as possible.
  • It must contain a complaint, proof and warning function.
  • The safest way to get it is by mail or by bailiff.

Please read the content of our legal information.

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