Free Employee Warning Letter

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Employee Warning Letter

Signing Details

Signing Details

What is the date of this warning letter?

Identify the individuals that will be signing this letter. Usually, at least the employee and the supervisor will sign.

Frequently Asked Questions
Does the employee have to sign?Ideally, the employee should sign the warning letter. This is not mandatory, however. Remember, the employee is only signing as acknowledgment that they received the warning letter and that they discussed its content with management. Signing is not an admission of wrongdoing.

Where an employee refuses to sign, management should try to ensure that there are two or more management representatives present and an impartial witness.
What if I don't know who the witness will be?You may leave the witness name blank if you do not know who that will be. A space will be provided in the letter for the witness to sign and print their name.

Your Employee Warning Letter

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Employee Warning Letter Page of
Page of




Employee Title:




HR Officer:



June 24, 2024

  1. Introduction
  2. ____________________ (the "Employer") recognizes the importance of maintaining a consistent and experienced workforce. As such, it is important to retain staff wherever possible. It is the desire of ____________________ to retain ____________________ (the "Employee") however some changes in work behavior must occur in order to ensure a successful working relationship.
  3. Infraction
  4. This Employee Warning Letter (the "Letter") concerns the Employee's failure to fulfill work obligations that occurred on or about June 24, 2024:
    • ___________________________________________________________

  5. This is the first occurrence of this type of infraction.
  6. Consequences
  7. ___________________________________________________________

  8. Employee Signature
  9. By signing this form the Employee is not making any admission of wrong-doing nor is the Employee necessarily agreeing with the content of this Letter. The Employee's signature only acknowledges that the Employee has received this Letter and that the Employee and the company management have discussed the content of this Letter including the specific plans for improvement and the consequences of future infractions.

____________________ (Employee)

Last updated October 17, 2023

Written by

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What is an Employee Warning Letter?

An Employee Warning Letter is a disciplinary action used by an employer to inform an employee that they've breached a company protocol, and continuing to do so could lead to more severe consequences. It provides details about the employee's misconduct, so there are no misunderstandings on the employee's part.

The letter is a formal human resource (HR) document and often the second warning after an initial verbal warning.

Employee Warning Letters can also reduce legal risks if the employee is eventually fired and claims they were wrongfully terminated. Having a paper trail can show that a company did its due diligence when addressing and attempting to mitigate the issue.

An Employee Warning Letter is also known as a/an:

  • Written Warning
  • Letter of Reprimand
  • Disciplinary Form
  • Employee Warning Notice
  • Caution Letter

How do I write an Employee Warning Letter?

An Employee Warning Letter should leave no room for confusion about why the employee is receiving a warning. 

An employer shouldn’t make baseless claims. That’s why it’s a good idea to have as much evidence as possible about the misconduct and document it in the letter. For example, if the employee is receiving a warning for consistently arriving late to work, include specific dates and times the infractions occurred in the letter.

You can easily create an Employee Warning Letter by filling out LawDepot's questionnaire. Using our template will ensure you complete the necessary steps:

1. Describe the employee’s infraction

Start your Employee Warning Letter by describing the nature of the employee’s infraction. Include what happened, when it happened, and how many times it’s occurred.

Common infractions that can lead to a write-up are:

  • Breaching a confidentiality policy
  • Breaching a drug and alcohol policy
  • Breaching a health and safety policy
  • Failing to fulfill work obligations
  • Frequently showing up late
  • Misrepresenting qualifications
  • Missing work without notice
  • Stealing
  • Threatening co-workers with physical harm

2. Provide the employee’s details

Include the employee’s name, job title, and employee identification number (if applicable).

3. Provide the employer’s details

You also need to provide essential details about the employer. Be sure to include the names of the company, the employee's supervisor, and the human resource officer overseeing the disciplinary action.

4. Explain the consequences of any re-occurrence

Employers often include consequences in Employee Warning Letters to deter the employee from continuing their misconduct. Explain the consequences for future misconduct in detail.

For example, some employers find it appropriate to demote or fire an employee for reoffending.

5. State if the employee will be on probation

You may wish to put the employee on probation if an infraction is severe enough or if it's their second or third warning.

The employee will have a specified period of time to improve or amend their actions. If they don't meet the requirements by the end of the probationary period, they will face further consequences.

6. Include tips for future improvement

If you like, you can provide the employee with directions on how to improve their behavior and avoid further infractions. 

7. State if an immediate meeting is required

If you believe the infraction warrants an immediate meeting with the employee, include who will act as the meeting coordinator.

8. Consider having a follow-up assessment

You might want to have a follow-up assessment with the employee to review their work performance and progress since receiving the warning. If this is the case, set a date for a meeting.

9. Leave space for employee comments

Some employees might disagree with the warning or desire a chance to tell their side of the story on the record. Leaving space for comments gives them the option to write a rebuttal to HR.

10. Include additional terms if needed

You can include additional terms to your Employee Warning Letter if the situation calls for it.

11. Sign the document

Finish your Employee Warning Letter by dating the document and having all the involved parties sign it. It's a good idea to ask the employee to sign, so there's proof that they acknowledge the disciplinary action.

Depending on your company’s policies, you can also have a supervisor, HR officer, department manager, or witness sign the document. 

How should I deliver an Employee Warning Letter?

To be respectful and professional, giving the Employee Warning Letter through an in-person meeting is often best. If a manager or supervisor is conducting the meeting, have an HR representative there as a witness.

The employer should also choose their words carefully. They should be assertive but not aggressive or insulting. It's also a good idea to end the meeting on a high note by offering a solution or tips for improvement.

Can I fire an employee without ever giving them an Employee Warning Letter?

Yes, an employer can fire an employee without first giving them an Employee Warning Letter. It's only considered a wrongful termination if the employer doesn't provide notice that the law requires or the employee is fired for illegal reasons. For example, if they violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by firing an employee for discriminatory reasons.

It's not always realistic or in the company's best interests to provide a written warning or advanced notice before letting an employee go. Some misconducts are so serious that they warrant immediate firing. There are also instances where employers need to lay off quality employees.

What should I do if an employee refuses to sign an Employee Warning Letter?

It's ideal to have the employee sign the Employee Warning Letter because it helps prove they received the warning. If the employee refuses to sign, explain that signing the warning doesn't necessarily mean they agree with the reasoning. It only shows that they acknowledge the warning occurred.

The letter also provides space for the employee to comment. They might be more willing to sign the document if they have a chance to write a rebuttal to human resources, so they feel their side of the story is acknowledged.

If the employee still doesn't provide a signature, the employer can make a note on their file that they elected not to sign the warning letter. An HR representative and witness to the disciplinary meeting can sign the document instead.

If the employment is at-will and the employee refuses to sign the Warning Letter, employment-at-will laws give the employer the right to end a working relationship with an employee without notice. Although they can't force the employee to sign the document, they can let the employee go for the original infraction that led to the warning.

How long does an Employee Warning Letter stay on file?

The amount of time an Employee Warning Letter stays on an employee's file varies from company to company. Each one will have its own policies for written warnings. However, the severity of the infraction leading to the write-up can play a factor in how long the warning stays on file. Some employers keep a warning on file for six months to two years, and others keep them on record indefinitely.

A warning letter also doesn’t follow an employee to their next job. 

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