Types of Disciplinary Actions for Employees

It is not uncommon for conflict or disagreements to arise in workplaces, and for employers this can be difficult to navigate. Additionally, poor performance or misconduct issues can present a challenge for employers who must deal with individuals in their employment correctly. This means following full and fair disciplinary processes, to avoid unlawful proceedings. The consequences of not following protocols can be lengthy and costly, such as dismissal claims and having to face employment tribunals. This is an insight to the different types of disciplinary actions for employees.  

What Are The Different Tyes of Disciplinary Actions for Employees?

Verbal Warning 

A verbal warning is usually the first step in disciplinary action. Depending on the issue and company, this can be an informal one-on-one conversation, or this can be a more formal, structured chat. In both instances, it is advisable to keep written records of these discussions.  

The purpose of this warning is to address any present issues head-on, and also provide advice on how the employee might improve. They should be given a chance to rectify the issues addressed, such as performance. The timeframe for this stage will differ depending on company policy, but usually lasts 3 to 6 months. 

Written Warning 

This warning will typically follow a verbal warning if the employee has failed to improve on their behaviour or the issues previously highlighted. A written warning will specify particular issues and future expectations moving forwards. A timeframe should also be given, as well as the potential consequences if the problem remains unresolved. This warning will be kept on this individual’s record. 

Final Written Warning 

If the issues addressed have still not been resolved, then a final warning will be given to the employee. In circumstances where an act of gross misconduct has been committed however, the employer is allowed to proceed to this stage straight away.  


A demotion can occur next and works by reassigning the particular employee from their current position, to one of less responsibility. If an employee has worked for the company for a long time period, this can be an alternative action to the termination of their contract.  

It is important to note that, as an employer, it’s unlawful to demote an employee without their agreement, if the change means unilaterally altering their terms of employment. If this does occur, without both parties in agreement, this can result in a claim of constructive dismissal, if the employee then resigns. 

Check your employer contract, as some contracts give permission for the employer to give a demotion in certain circumstances. However, these clauses are interpreted very strictly by employment tribunal judges, so it’s imperative that you have valid reason for demotion and have followed correct disciplinary processes.  


With valid reason, such as severe misconduct or continuous poor performance, it might be appropriate to terminate an employee’s contract. This should be deemed as a last resort, when all other methods have been tried. Employees should usually be given a notice period, but in some cases, there will be dismissal with immediate effect.

If you’re looking for support regarding these types of disciplinary actions for employees, or other employment law related matters, Caversham Solicitors are here to help. For more information, get in contact with our team of expert lawyers today.