Did you get a letter of reprimand? What does that mean?

Have you received a letter of reprimand from your employer telling you that you are not performing satisfactorily? What exactly does it mean for your future employment? Can your boss fire you based on this letter? And is there any way to defend yourself against the letter?

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Unsatisfactory results as a reason for termination

Unsatisfactory performance is one of the reasons why an employer may terminate an employee. These are characterised by the fact that although the employee is not in breach of any of his or her duties, his or her work is not delivering what the employer expects from the employee.

However, it should of course be stressed that not every situation where an employee fails to meet the employer’s expectations constitutes unsatisfactory performance which may lead to dismissal. The employer’s requirements must always be reasonable and correspond to the reality of the employee’s situation.

Content of the letter of reproach

The content of a letter of reprimand is therefore primarily to inform the worker concerned of a breach of the law, work discipline or poor work performance.

If your employer accuses you of failing to meet performance targets that you believe are completely unrealistic, we recommend that you compare your own performance with that of other colleagues. If even they fall far short of the desired targets, the problem is probably more likely to be with the employer, who is demanding the unachievable. Attention should also be paid to the system of work allocation – if the employer distributes the orders among individual brokers and you receive the least or only the low-return ones, you can hardly meet the performance criteria.

However, a letter of reprimand should only follow if the employee has breached the duties of his or her job at least three times. If the employee has not complied with the legal requirements for the performance of the agreed work in the last 12 months, and despite written warnings from their line manager their performance and work discipline has not improved over this time, they may be dismissed by their employer for this reason.

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The employee is seen as the weaker party in the relationship with the employer and is therefore protected by law in every possible way. One of these means is the impossibility of termination by the employer for any reason. In our article we will look at what options the employer has in this area and what the grounds for termination may be.

You may be entitled to severance pay

If you are making less profit for your employer because of an overall decline in business or because they are not giving you enough opportunities, you cannot be terminated for unsatisfactory performance. At most, the employer could consider eliminating your position. In that case, they would have to give you a severance package when you are dismissed for redundancy.

There are not many options when an employee can be given notice by the employer. One option is termination for organisational reasons. What if your employer dismisses you, ostensibly abolishes your job and then creates and re-fills it?

When criticisms are justified

However, if you are objectively behind in your work, a letter of reproach may well be in order. In this case, your employer must ask you to remedy the deficiencies in the letter of reproach and give you a reasonable period of time to improve your performance. At the same time, it would be appropriate for your employer to give you reasonable assistance and support in your development (for example, by paying for training).

Have you not improved? You are at risk of dismissal

If your performance does not improve after the deadline (or if it improves only in the short term), your employer can dismiss you on two months’ notice without pay. However, you can givenotice up to 12 months after you receive the letter of reprimand. If your employer decides after 12 months, it must first give you a new letter of reprimand and give you time to improve. Only then can it proceed with the notice.

What are the defences?

What if the situation is completely different and you disagree with the content of the letter of reprimand. Can you defend yourself? Simply not accepting the letter does not mean anything. The document is still registered as having been delivered and therefore valid, even if there is a lawsuit.
However, if an employee has been dismissed for a breach of workplace law and has not received a letter of reprimand, he or she may seek assistance from the administrative authority. In such a case, the dismissal would be null and void as the conditions laid down in the Labour Code have not been met.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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