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What to Include in an Employee Written Warning


An employee warning letter must not leave anything open to interpretation. Exact and complete, it is a valuable tool not only for disciplinary action but also against negative legal action against your business.

Research First

Before writing the warning letter, ensure you have all available details.

  1. If attendance oriented, have the employee’s attendance records available. How many days was the employee late? By how long?
  2. Have departmental and company policies Have other employees with the same behavior policy been treated the same way? What has worked to turn a bad situation around for other employees in the past? Were all prior corrective actions outlined by company policy and procedures taken?
  3. Review the employee’s history. Is there a prior pattern of behavior? Has the employee been given verbal and/or written warnings repeatedly and temporarily complied (i.e., is the employee “playing the system”)? If so, consider either a longer after-action monitor period or termination.
  4. Ensure the written warning is not a retaliatory action against the employee for prior actions against any person or the business.

Be Concise and Consistent

Use a company-approved template for your warning letter. Complete basic areas prior to talking with the employee: job title, prior disciplinary actions, and warning action details.

  • Reinforce positive aspects of the employee’s contributions to the company.
  • Exact nature of warning. Delineate instances of detrimental behavior.
  • Exact nature and duration of disciplinary action.
  • Desired outcome.
  • Additional training if necessary.
  • Consequences of non-compliance.
  • Appeal option if allowed by company policy.

Allow your employee to explain or ask questions. If the employee does not write comments in the provided area, note such and initial.

Complete the Warning Interview

When the disciplinary interview is ending, review the proceedings with the employee.

  • Recap the reason for the warning.
  • Standards expected.
  • If allowed, explain again the company’s policy and procedure regarding the employee’s appeal rights.
  • Tell the employee that a copy will be permanently included in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Signatures and dates. Sign and date the letter; have the employee do the same. Should the employee refuse to sign, call in a witness then offer the employee another chance. If he still refuses, have the witness sign and date, confirming the signature offering and refusal.
  • Give a copy of the warning letter to the employee.
  • Place the original warning letter in his personnel file or forward under cover to Human Resources for inclusion.

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