The lawyer’s column

25.11.2020 | News


“My supervisor said that the customer was dissatisfied with the service they received from me. We discussed the case and I shared my views on it. I didn’t get any written communication and I haven’t heard about it since. Was this a warning?”

If you do not know that you have received a warning, you could not have been given a warning under the Employment Contracts Act. According to the Employment Contracts Act, an employee who has failed to fulfill or breached his or her obligations arising from the employment relationship may not be dismissed until he or she has been given the opportunity to rectify his or her conduct after a warning. Although the manner in which the warning is given is not provided for and may be oral, it is clear that the warning must be given so clearly that the employee knows he or she has received it. If the employer terminates the employment relationship on the grounds that the employee has repeatedly violated or neglected the terms of the employment relationship, the employer must be able to prove that the employee has previously been given a warning of negligence. Therefore, the warning is usually given in writing.

In order for a warning to fulfill a statutory purpose, the following must be clearly stated:

-    the reason for the warning, i.e. a description of the breach of contract or conduct

-    what obligations the employee has breached

-    the requirement to act or behave in accordance with the rules agreed in the future, i.e. to rectify the conduct

-    a statement that the recurrence of a similar conduct may lead to termination of employment

The warning must be based on actual occasion. The warning must be so clear and specific that the employee understands what it is about and can correct his or her conduct or behavior based on the warning. It must concretely indicate the matters where the employer requires improvement. The warning should be so clear that the employee also understands that the employer may terminate his or her employment contract if he or she does not change his or her conduct or behavior.

There is no provision in the Employment Contracts Act on the manner and procedure for issuing a warning. However, the employer must give the employee a warning within a reasonable time after the negligence has occurred and has come to the employer's attention. Before giving a warning, the employee must, of course, be given the opportunity to be heard on the matter on which the warning is being considered.

Apparently, the issue was adequately clarified in your discussion. If your supervisor had deemed the warning necessary, they should have acted more clearly.

Jaana Liimatainen, YTY Labour Market Lawyer

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