Warning at work: is there a statute of limitations for warnings?

A warning from the employer serves as a warning to the person concerned.

Warning at work: is there a statute of limitations for warnings?

A warning from the employer serves as a warning to the person concerned. The warned behavior should be avoided in the future. The question remains: Is a warning valid forever?

Constantly being late, going over breaks, surfing the Internet privately: Employers can acknowledge such behavior by employees with a warning. It should point out a violation of the employment contract, complain about this violation and threaten consequences in the event that a certain behavior is not omitted or repeated. In the worst case, repeated warnings can result in dismissal.

But: How long is such a warning valid? Are there deadlines by which it becomes statute-barred? no "A warning in labor law does not generally expire," says the website Haufe.de.

There is no legally determined point in time at which the warning is no longer effective. However, because the warning has to fulfill a warning function, it loses its meaning over time - provided employees do not allow themselves any further missteps over a long period of time or the behavior complained of has become insignificant for the employment relationship. In the end, the circumstances of the individual case are also decisive.

Haufe.de refers to a judgment by the Düsseldorf Higher Labor Court of November 2022. The LAG had ruled in (Ref.: 8 Sa 243/22) that the dismissal of an employee because she was repeatedly late was invalid.

According to the court, the warning function of a first warning, which was issued more than a year before the termination, was used up. The employee was also regularly late in the months that followed, without this having had any consequences. It would have required a new warning first.

Incidentally, it is not always necessary to issue two or more warnings before the employer can terminate the contract. The number of warnings is usually not relevant for a behavior-related termination. Rather, it depends, among other things, on the type and severity of the misconduct. It is also important how long it has been since the last breach of duty.

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