Warning

Warning - Alasivu

An employee who has received a warning is given a chance to amend his/her conduct.

If the employee has neglected his/her duties arising from the employment relationship, the employer may issue a warning. Repeated negligence constitutes grounds for termination of the employment relationship, but principally the employee may not be given notice before being issued a warning and given a chance to amend his/her conduct. If the employer decides to terminate the employment relationship because of repeated negligence, he must be able to prove that a warning has already been issued. Because of this, it is in the interests of both employer and employee that warnings are issued in writing. The employer may require the employee to sign the warning in acknowledgement of receipt. However, signing the warning does not mean that the employee accepts the content of the warning as accurate.

A warning may also be given orally. There are no provisions on the number of warnings or their validity in the Finnish Employment Contracts Act. An estimate of when a warning may be considered to have expired should be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of the employee’s negligence or violation. If an employee has been warned and the same or similar breach of contract happens again, the employer can refer to the warning previously given, unless such a long time has passed that the warning has become irrelevant. No exact period of validity has been specified for previous warnings. The warning procedure at the workplace must be followed consistently and uniformly. If an oral warning is given of the first negligence at the workplace, a written warning of the second one and only then the employment contract is terminated, the employer shall apply the same practice to all employees.

In order for a written warning to fulfil its purpose, it should include at least:

  • a concrete description of the employee’s conduct that is in breach of the employment contract
  • an explanation of the duties that the employee has neglected or violated
  • an explicit demand that the employee comply with agreed rules in the future
  • an explicit statement of the consequences of repeating the disallowed behaviour referred to.

The employment relationship may be terminated without issuing a warning if the employee's breach of contract is so serious that the employer cannot be reasonably expected to continue the employment relationship. A warning may be referred to in termination of the employment relationship only when the reason for the termination is similar to the reason for the warning being issued.

The employer may use the Warning form (pdf, in Finnish) provided by the occupational safety and health authority for giving warnings.

Warning - Oikeuden päätökset

 

Court decisions and precedents

In the decision of the Supreme Court of Finland (KKO:2016:62, in Finnish), A had worked as a sales person and recorded two pieces of fruit as food spoilage. This person, however, did not leave the products to be disposed of in accordance with the employer’s instructions. The fruits were found in the sales person’s possession. The employer had terminated A’s employment contract based on dishonesty and non-compliance with instructions. The Supreme Court of Finland ruled that A committed a breach or neglect of obligations having essential impact on the employment relationship but that the breach, when assessed as a whole, was not that serious that the employer would have had the right to terminate the employment contract without first giving a warning.

In the decision of the Supreme Court of Finland (KKO:2014:98, in Finnish), an employer terminated the employment contract of a sales person in an appliance store after two warnings, based on a low cover ratio of the employee’s sales work. The employer did not have rightful and heavy grounds for the termination, because the low cover ratio was not sufficient evidence of a serious breach or neglect of obligations having essential impact on the employment relationship, within the meaning of chapter 7, section 2(1) of the Employment Contracts Act.