Historically, if an employee was not performing well, an employer could issue them with a formal verbal warning in the hope that it would help the employee improve their performance. However, formal verbal warnings ceased to exist when the new ACAS Code of Practice came into force recently. The only sanctions that are now available to an employer under the Code are a first written warning, a final written warning and dismissal. An employer can still informally warn an employee about minor poor performance and if it does that, the employer should always record in writing what was discussed – this is so the employee is quite clear about what is expected of them going forward and that if their performance does not improve, formal disciplinary action is likely to ensue. If an employer does issue an employee with a formal verbal warning, they will not be able to rely upon it and the employee might then be able to argue that by issuing the warning, the employer was bullying them which could result in a resignation and an unfair dismissal claim. An employer does therefore need to pay close attention to the new Code when disciplining an employee for minor matters.
If you require any employment advice or representation, whether you are an employer or employee, feel free to contact Alan Davidson for a consultation: 01756 692 869.