Except in cases of gross misconduct, a first offence should normally receive a first written or oral warning, valid for a set period of time. Second offences which occur while a first warning is live should receive a final written warning.
Normally, you can only dismiss an employee if they commit another offence within the period of a final warning. To issue a first or final written warning consider using a:
When you issue a warning, say clearly what the warning is for, what the employee should do in response and how long the warning period will last. First warnings normally last for 6 months and final written warnings for 1 year. If a warning expires, it can’t be used in future disciplinary actions. All these matters are covered by the Disciplinary outcome letters.
In gross misconduct cases, you can dismiss an employee for a first offence, as long as a fair process is followed. There’s no set definition of gross misconduct – and your definition in your employment contract and in your workplace rules must be seen as objectively reasonable – but it must normally be deliberate or grossly negligent. You should consider sending the employee a Summary dismissal letter for gross misconduct to confirm the decision. For more information, read Summary dismissal and gross misconduct.