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What to do when you get a warning

If your employer is unhappy with your performance or something you have done at work, they may give you a warning.  The purpose of a warning is to warn you about your actions and allow you to improve your behaviour.

A warning can be verbal or in writing.  There are no specific rules about warnings set out  in New Zealand's employment legislation, but there are general principles that apply - in particular the requirement to give an employee information relevant to the decision and to give the employee a chance to respond.  More particular rules about warnings may be in your employment agreement or any company policy.

Often people think the law says that a person must receive two warnings before they can be dismissed by an employer for unsatisfactory performance or misconduct.  Actually, the law doesn't have any such requirement.

However, on the grounds of fairness, you should expect to receive some warning or warnings (verbal and/or written) before being dismissed (unless the issue is serious misconduct). 

Before you meet with your boss to respond to a warning, it’s a good idea to ask other workers if they have dealt with similar issues and find out what the outcome was.

Your employer will keep a record in your employment file of any warnings you are given .  It is common to have a limit on how long those warnings stay in your file - usually no more than 12 months.