Industrial Relations
Retired Chief - Ir
Dr. Trinath Dash
Ir And Labour Laws, Training & Devpt
+3 Others

Dear Sir, What is differences in Warning Letter, Charge sheet and Show cause Notice. Thank you, Regards, JN Modi-HR
Dear Mr. Modi
In Show cause notice, by serving this notice an opportunity is given to the offender for his actions by asking him to defend the charges made against him by explanations and reasons by writing and as well as personal hearing. If the offender clears himself that whatever he has done is right then the charges/actions will be dropped against him.
In charge sheet, you serve a notice against the criminal actions for defending, but should be very careful while serving this notice, you should take advice from proper lawyer.
Warning letter is the initial notification to a responsible party that has observed possible violations of law....
In case of any offence took place in any establishment/organisation, the offender will be issued with a Show Cause Notice for asking the reason why this has happened and why the management should not take any against the defaulter.
On Receipt of the reply to the Show Cause Notice from the Defaulter, the Management will decide further course of action.
1. If the reply given by the defaulter is satisfactory and if the management feels the defaulter is not guilty, then they can relieve the him from awarding any punishment
2. If the reply proves some fault with the offender but it is not that much big issue, then the management can close the disciplinary case by simply issuing a Warning Letter (Admonition/Reprimand).
3. If the reply proves that the case deserves further investigation to find out the facts of the offence, then offender will be issued with a Formal Charge Sheet and further investigation will be conducted and accordingly the offender will be punished.
Dear Mr Modi;

There are rules of behaviour in organisation. When any employee violates the rule or misbehaves then the Manager or the person in charge is not present there always. Manager gets a report. Manager cannot depend on one side. Manager has to know the other side. Hence Manager issued a notice to the offender employee mentioning the allegations against him and asking him to explain his side. The offending employee then gives his explanation. This notice is called show cause notice because the offender employee is called upon to show cause.

When the report is strong, when the explanation is not satisfactory, and after the explanation is found not satisfactory, Manager issued second letter mentioning charges. When charges are mentioned it becomes charge sheet. In this letter Manager mentions that the act or omission of the employee amounts to these charges. In this letter, if earlier show cause notice is not given, then employee is asked to explain. If earlier show cause notice is given, then date of enquiry is mentioned. The matter is then properly investigated to know if the employee is guilty or not.

Warning is an action taken. Show cause notice or charge sheet is not action taken. Warning is final. Warning never asks for explanation. It is the final action by the Manager against the employee. It is a dot, bad record of the employee, a blot on employee's record. Warning is given after the show cause notice and charge sheet and enquiry, if found guilty. Otherwise for obvious misbehaviour, warning is given directly without issuing show cause notice or charge sheet. Such cases of direct warning are absenteeism, smoking, drunkenness etc where the case is clear and no explanation is necessary.

Vibhakar Ramtirthkar


HR Consultant, Pune
Dear Mr. Modi,

When the Management receives any complaint against an employee of committing any act or omission which amounts to misconduct, that employee will be given the Charge Sheet. It contains the charges or allegations against that employee. The charges will be framed as per the Certified Standing oredrs of the Company or Model Standing Orders if the absence of certified Standing Orders. In other words a charge sheet is nothing but a sheet or document containing the charges/ allegations. The employee against whom the charges are framed is called as DELINQUENT EMPLOYEE. And the employee will be given a chance to reply to that charge sheet with in a stipulated time which will be normally 48 hours or maximum 72 hours. The employee has to give his reply, justifying his his acts or omissions. If the Management is satisfied with the charge sheet the matter/case will be closed. If the management is not satisfied with that reply and if still feels that the employee can be let off with a simply warning it will issue him a WARNING LETTER in which the employee wil be warned that he shall not repeat such or similar acts contained in the charge sheet in future failing which strict disciplinary action will be taken against him.

If the management fells that emquiry is to be conducted in to the charges/allegations made in the charge sheet it will conduct the enquiry after appoining an wnquiry officer and informing the employee about the time, place and day of enquiry. The enquiry will be conducted as per the procedure and the enquiry officer will submit his report. If the delinquent employee is found guilty of the charges made against him, the management will decide the disciplinary action to be taken against him as per the Certified/Model Standing Orders and issues SHOW CAUSE to the employee to show the cause why the proposed disciplinary action shall not be taken against him. On receiving the reply from him the management will go further and taken the proposed disciplinary action including issuing him a WARNING LETTER with which the case will be closed.

D. Phani Kumar


Vasavadatta Cement

(B.K. Birla Group of Companies)

Sedam, Gulbarga Dist.

Dear Mr. Modi

After going through the discussions it appears that there are gaps. All have tried to answer nicely. I can share my views as under:

The three terms relate to disciplinary proceedings or domestic inquiry in the area of human behaviour at work in industrial or service set up.

1) Warning Letter is a letter issued to an employee as a measure of minor punishment after the employee is found guilty on the basis of his voluntary admission of omission/commission or on the basis of the report submitted by the Inquiry Officer duly appointed by the appointing authority or his authorised representative. It may be or may not be reckoned as a punishment for entering in the service record depending on the rules of the organisation including Standing Orders. Some organisations call it Censor Letter. In some cases Caution Letters are issued to record dissatisfaction without calling for any explanation. Warning Letter if considered as a measure of punishment should always be preceded with calling for explanation from the erring employee.Depending on the gravity of the misconduct the warning letter is resorted to.

2) Charge Sheet is also called Letter of Charges or Memo of Charges. It is meant to communicate clearly what are the charges against an erring employee (delinquent). The charges must be unambiguous and specific.If explanation has not been called for prior to framing of charge sheet the erring employee can be given a chance to explain within a reasonable time (in some cases it is held that minimum 48 hours is reasonable). In case the matter is complicated more time is allowed in the interest of natural justice which presupposes that no one shall be condemned without an opportunity to be heard.

3) Show Cause Notice is the short form of " Show Cause why disciplinary action shall not be taken against you"). There are two types of show cause letters or notices. First Show Cause and Second Show Cause. The former is issued at the initial stage calling for explanation to the contemplated charges(in this case charge sheet is issued after hearing the erring employee)or communicated charges(in this case the charge sheet contains a clause calling for explanation). It is a vital part of domestic inquiry. The later is issued before imposing any major punishment giving a chance to the erring employee why the proposed punishment shall not be imposed on him. Normally a copy of the report of the Inquiry Officer is annexed to the second show cause. In case you need any help regarding IR and IR Laws can contact .

Dr. Trinath Dash
Dear Upasana, Vibhakar, D. Phani Kumar and Dr. Trinath Dash
Your reply to Mr. Modi regarding the subject matter i.e. "Warning Letter, Charge sheet and Show cause Notice__ CiteHR" is very nice descriptive and full knowledgeable.
May I ask you all to inform one more thing that - If the employer do fraud and issue Charge sheet and Show cause Notice, Wrongly, Deceivingly and Fraudulently, what action would you advice to the employee to take action against the employer?
Thanking you in anticipation.
Ashok Gupta

Dear Mr. Ashok Gupta,
If the employer issues charge sheet wrongly and fraduently the employee can deny the charges framed in the charge sheet. In that case the employer has to option but to prove the charges. For that he has to conduct the enquiry. In the enquiry the employee can cross examine the Management Witness and prove his innocence. He can also produce witnesses in support of his arguements. If he is able to convince the enquiry officer with his witnesses and arguements, he will come out clean. Still if the enquiry officer, to do the favour to the management holds him guilty of the charges, the employee can always approach the labour department and justice.
D. Phani Kumar
Vasavadatta Cement
(B.K. Birla Group of Companies)
sedam, Gulbarga Dist.
Dear Ashok;
You are right. When an employee is wrong, employer issues a charge sheet and takes action. But what if employer is wrong and troubles employee by issuing false charge sheet?
Another misconduct is disobedience of a lawful and reasonable order of a superior. A superior issued an order which is not lawful and reasonable. What should the employee do?
In such cases we can experience that the industrial relations situation is not normal. There must be disputes and show downs. If management is transparent, it should take action against the responsible superior for issuing a wrong charge sheet. Would the management have such a courage? If not, then suffer bad industrial relations situation. If the union is strong, management will have it. If the union is weak, management is lucky.
Vibhakar Ramtirthkar

HR Consultant.
Dear Mr. Gupta,

Perhaps you want to know if the management issues a charge sheet falsely what action lies against the management. First of all we should know that an industry operates in a society. There are employees, management (employer) and Government who arbitrates on behalf of the society. There are specific rules for the activities. If there is a foul game it is always open for criticism. Each employer not only wants profit but an image also. In case there is a false charge sheet against an employee he can approach his Superiors up to the Chairman. He can seek help from hisTrade Union or Supervisory or Officers' Association. These fora can make it an issue and create clamour which will affect the industrial harmony. In fact no employer can afford to allow imbalance in industrial relations. Even if the employee is not a member of any Union/Association he can create pressure through peer group or approach the concerned Government machinery. Now a days employees have good net working which can take up the issue. In some cases such vindictive designs land the employer in to unfair labour practice inviting penal action. The employee is at liberty to stand up and face inquiry in to the false charges and come out victorious.
Thanks to all my Seniors and HR Consultants for your valuable reply and guidance.

Here I wish to further inform you all that the concerned employee was made Scapegoat to save other responsible Superior Officers and was Severely Punished after Charge Sheet followed with Show Cause Notice on the basis of the information's given to Higher Authorities Wrongly, Deceivingly and Fraudulently and after Individual Departmental Enquiry but jointly with other employees of a Semi Government Organisation on common but different individual departmental responsibilities Ground against about 15 employees of different posts of different department in One Common Matter.

The concerned employee is Severely Punished on the basis of Baseless Imaginary Framed Charge Sheet, Show Cause Notice and after Conducting One Sided Departmental Enquiry which has NO Concrete Evidence against the said employees.

The concerned employee had approached Honorable High Court with Writ Petition but he could get minor relief because the Honorable High Court considered to convert his punishment similar to the other employee punishment and did not conduct the matter on merits.

Thereafter he had again approached Honorable High Court with 2nd Writ Petition followed with Petition in Honorable Supreme Court but he could not get any relief anywhere hence all doors to any Court are closed.

But recently he understood that if there is a Fraud Case against the Employer in that case there is no time limit for the employee to approach suitable authority for justice.

In view of this the employee started seeking various information's from the Employer through RTI Applications but in reply in RTI Orders the PIO have not revealed the facts and knowingly determined Extrinsic and Constructive Fraud, committed willful attempt of criminal offense and breach of his legal duty and employed to keep the employee from exercising right by hiding evidence by means of giving justifiable untrue, false statement and fraudulent pretences to deceive, mislead and causing mental and legal injury to employee by not revealing the fact which PIO has a duty to communicate as a result with intent to deprive employee of his legal right and causing great injustice to employee by not disclosing the facts for the benefits of other Government Official, when it is PIO's duty to disclose the facts but while passing RTI Orders the PIO has furnished the information Wrongly, Deceivingly and Fraudulently that does not reveal the information sought by employee resulting denying to supply the required certified copies asked for vide his RTI Applications.

Now the employee is ready for 1st and 2nd appeal with RTI Authorities.

The employee has sufficient suitable documents and evidences to show that the fraud was committed by the authorities in his case.

Anyway now the employee seeks all of your valuable advice and guidance to take next step correctly to get justice.

Can he lodge a police complaint against the responsible person who took action against him. before going legally?

Hope to get all of your valuable advice and guidance.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Ashok Gupta
Dear Member
To it simply :-
Show Cause is a letter which has no legal implications and just asks for an explanation of an act from the employee. No enquiry can be initiated based only on the show cause notice. "There is no provision in law to issue a show cause notice before enquiry / chargesheet".
Charge Sheet is a letter which has legal implications , accuses the employee of certain misconducts and has reference to rules applicable to them (Normally the standing orders or terms of appointment letter). An explanation may be sought or even a direct enquiry can be initiated.
Warning is a punishment of mild nature and needs no explanation.
Preetam Deshpande
Dear Ashok;

The matter has taken a twist now after your detailed report. What I feel is that we should keep employment and non-employment matters separate. If there is alleged fraud on the part of employee, it will have to be proved by management. If it is a group fraud and the employee is involved in it knowingly or unknowingly and derived any profit from it, then he is also responsible for it and deserves punishment. The employee cannot take a stand that others are guilty why they need not be punished? Employee is guilty and needs punishment.

Now if management is singling out that employee and singling him out and taking against him only then the management can succeed in taking action but will poorly fail in its relations with other employees. If other employees are sane, they will resent, quit and will be careful in further dealings with management. If the other employees remain aloof, they will suffer in future like this employee. If other employees are also fraudulant, entire organisation will suffer in the long run.

As for the employee, once action is taken against him, he is free to approach civil court for remedy against the management staff who were involved in the fraud. Employee has civil rights, if anybody is invading his character, he can certainly defend himself and counter act. He includes she.

Vibhakar Ramtirthkar.
Thanks Dear Vibhakar Ramtirthkar for your valuable and correct advice.

Here I want to point out that the management has not caught anybody red-handed in any fraud by any employee against management and there is no fraud on the part of any employee.

The management took action against about 15 employees of different posts of different department carrying different responsibility in One Common Matter of indirect loss to the management.

The management has conducted the matter individually and given minor punishment to few employees, except the said employee.

The said employee was made Scapegoat to save others and to show that some action is taken by management in the matter.

Without having any full proof evidence against the said employee and on the basis of oral and imaginary information's given to the Authorities, the Suspension Order and Charge Sheet are issued Wrongly, Deceivingly and Fraudulently to the said employee.

Now the said employee is willing to file a fraud case against the responsible authorities and management but the point is, whether the employee can lodge a police complaint against the responsible authorities before going to the court.

The employee do not worry for the relations with management in future as he is already retired.
Dear Ashok;
It is obvious that concerned employee has become fearless after retirement. He is hurt because he was made scapegoat. That employee has civil and criminal remedies unless the remedies are mutually exclusive specifically. If criminal case cannot be made, police will not register his complaint. Even if police register the complaint, it is only first step. Nothing happens before investigation by police. Then also accused, in this case the management staff, gets opportunity to defend.
But things have come to this stage is the failure of management staff. The case was not handled properly. Even now, time has not gone. Concerned parties can be called, discussions held and matter settled or compromised. Try it.
Vibhakar Ramtirthkar.

HR Consultant, Pune.
Sir, I have been given a warning / advice before deciding the show cause notice and it is detailed below.
"with reference to his application dated ....... regarding withdrawal of show cause notice, he informed that his request has been considered by the competent authority, but could not acceded to. He is further advised not to repeat such occurrence and be careful in future."

In fact I knew that the show cause notice had been given wrongly because no fact was concealed by me while applied some relief. I furnished the detailed reply to my employer and requested him to withdraw the show cause notice.

From the wording of the memorandum issued to me it is clear that the show cause notice is yet to decide and the advice / warning has been given merely on the basis of my request to withdraw the show cause notice. Is it a violation of any Employee Conduct Service Rule. Please comment whether the advice / warning detailed above is a black spot on my carrier. How, I should proceed further. Please help me.
Show cause notice - is a notice/letter given to a person involved in an indiscipline incident to explain the cause - sort of a fact finding initiative.
Charge sheet - is the notice where you charge a person with allegations of misconduct which will detail the charges levelled against an employee and the misconduct clause of the standing orders/service rules.
Warning letter - is the closure of the disciplinary action initiated.
In practice, in the show cause notice itself charges alleged are detailed and it is sort of show cause notice -cum- charge sheet.
When the misconduct alleged is very serious and permitting the person involved in the incident to continue with working will jeopardise the disciplinary proceedings, the person is kept under suspension pending enquiry and followed with detailed charge sheet.
The five ingrediants that is must for a show cause notice/charge sheet are: The name of the person charged; the details of the incident with exact date and time - there should be no ambiguity; the misconduct alleged and the misconduct clause under which the allegation is made; opportunity for the person charged to explian with a time frame within which it has to be submitted and the notice must be signed by the disciplinary authority only. Normally the authority which is issuing the employment/appoinment letter is the disciplinary action.
The show cause notice/charge sheet should not talk about punishment proposed. The punishment proposed has to be given only in the second show cause notice which is issued after the domestic enquiry is completed and the charges are proved in the said domestic enquiry.
rameshbg, hosur
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