Discipline and Dismissal


A written warning is resorted to when

  • a verbal warning has failed to produce the desired result, therefore necessitating stricter action,
  • or if the offense for which a verbal warning was issued has been repeated
  • or if there have been repeated offenses of other misconduct, 
  • or if the offense (even a first offense ) is considered serious enough to warrant disciplinary action stricter that a verbal warning.


It is emphasized that a written warning should only be issued after having followed a fair procedure, whereby the accused has been afforded the opportunity to present his case in answer to the charges against him.


A written warning must contain all the elements previously mentioned, and would generally be along the following lines: 


Written warning: Example 


To " Mr Naughty employee"

Re: Disciplinary Hearing 31st February 2005 : Charge of Insubordination against yourself.


Reference is made to the above disciplinary proceeding, wherein you were charged with insubordination in that you either refused, failed or neglected  to carry out a reasonable and lawful instruction given by Mr. John Foreman, to whit that you were instructed to park your truck in the workshop for the night of 30th February 2005 because the normal parking area had already been locked up for the night by security staff. You refused, failed or neglected to carry out this instruction with the result that the battery of the truck was stolen during the night because you left the truck parked in the yard , incurring the company in expenses of R800-00 for a new battery. (the employee has been identified and the date, time , place and nature of the offense clearly stated)   


You were found guilty as charged by the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Hearing, and you must clearly understand that insubordination – including a failure, refusal or neglect to carry out a reasonable and lawful instruction is regarded as a serious offense and will not be tolerated. (the employee is told that this is considered to be a serious matter.)


You are hereby warned that should you commit a similar offense or should you commit any further act of misconduct during the validity period of this warning, further and more stringent disciplinary action will be invoked, which may include your dismissal.


You are required to refrain from committing any acts of misconduct during the course of your employment with this company. This warning is valid for a period of 6 months from date hereof. (the employee has been told that the offense is serious, that he must not commit acts of misconduct, that he must not commit a repeat offense, and that the warning is valid for 6 months. He has also been warned of what consequences may result should he fail to heed the requirements of this warning, namely that he could be dismissed) 

(The employee has also been told what action is required of him to rectify the situation.)


Yours Faithfully,

 Very Annoyed Boss.


I know and understand the contents of this warning. I have received a copy of this warning.

Employee signature ________________________   Date : ______________

Witness Signature : __________________________________-


The employee signs this to state that he understands the contents of the warning and that he has received a copy. He is not signing to say that he agrees with it – only that he understands it and has received a copy.


Should the employee refuse to sign, then hand him a copy in the presence of the witness, and the witness will certify on the file copy of the warning that a copy was handed to the employee.

Case Law Summaries and Articles


Can employees be dismissed for refusing to accept new terms and conditions of employment?

Can an employer dismiss employees because they refuse to agree to a change to their terms and conditions of employment? An initial answer may be, “yes”.

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Escape route: “Resignation with immediate effect”

The latest case in the ‘disciplining employees who have resigned with immediate effect’ saga has brought about more uncertainty as to whether an employee who resigns with immediate effect shortly before a disciplinary hearing can avoid disciplinary action and subsequent dismissal.

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Freedom of expression or incitement to commit an offence? A constitutional challenge

On 4 July 2019, the North Gauteng High Court handed down judgment in the case of The EFF and other v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and other (87638/2017 and 45666/2017) in which the EFF and Julius Malema (the applicants) sought to have s18(2)(b) of the Riotous Assemblies Act, No 17 of 1956 (Riotous Act) declared unconstitutional.

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Consolidated, comprehensive or general final written warnings

Regarding dismissal, according to the Code of Good Practice, “the courts have endorsed the concept of corrective or progressive discipline. This approach regards the purpose of discipline as a means for employees to know and understand what standards are required of them.

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