Date:  Employee's Name: Department:
Title:     Date of Incident:

1. Has a verbal warning been given?

  • NoYes, the verbal warning was given on

2. Type of warning  

  • First written warning
  • Final written warning

3. Explain why this warning is being given (Additional information can be provided below).

4. Describe the employee's specific rule violation or performance problem:
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :
  • :

5. Describe the change in behavior that is expected of the employee:

6. Describe the consequences if this behavior is not changed:

7. Employee statement or rebuttal:


The above problem(s) have been discussed with me, and I understand that failure to improve my performance or additional unsatisfactory behavior will result in further disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or termination. I understand that my signature does not necessarily signify agreement with the facts or actions stated. If I disagree, it is my option and responsibility to pursue an appeal as follows:

Employee's signature: ________________________________ Date: ____________________

Employee was asked to sign this written warning on   _______________   but declined to sign.

Witnessed by: ________________________________________ Date: ____________________

Supervisor's signature: _______________________________________ Date: _____________


Employee Written Warning Form - Free Template

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Employee written warning form: How-to guide

Ensuring compliance with company policies and fostering a productive work environment plays an important role in achieving organizational success. However, despite the best efforts and intentions, situations may arise where an employee's conduct or performance falls below expected standards. In such instances, it becomes essential for employers to address these concerns effectively and efficiently. 

Employee written warning forms stand as crucial instruments in the hands of human resource (HR) departments and employers to address instances of misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, or company policy violations. These documents serve not only as a means to inform employees about their missteps but also as a tool for documenting incidents for future reference. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of employee written warning forms, their importance, and how to effectively utilize them to maintain organizational harmony and productivity.

What’s an employee written warning form?

An employee written warning form, often referred to as an employee warning notice or employee warning letter, is a formal document issued by employers or HR departments to employees to address instances of misconduct, poor performance, or violation of company policies. 

This document serves as a written record of the employer's communication with the employee regarding their work or behavior. It outlines the specific areas of concern, expectations for improvement, and potential consequences if the issues persist.

For example, consider a scenario where an employee consistently fails to meet project deadlines despite prior verbal warnings. In such cases, an employee warning form would be issued detailing the missed deadlines, their impact on team productivity, and the corrective actions required from the employee.

Why should you send an employee warning notice?

Employee warning notices are sent for various reasons, each aimed at addressing specific issues and maintaining organizational standards. Here are some key reasons for its issuance:

Performance improvement

In instances of continued unsatisfactory performance, written warnings provide employees with clear feedback on areas requiring improvement and outline steps for corrective action.

Repeated verbal warning

In cases where verbal warnings fail to bring about the desired change in behavior or performance, a written warning form may be necessary to document the escalation of disciplinary action.

Policy violations

Employees are expected to adhere to company policies and procedures. An effective employee warning notice addresses violations of these policies, whether related to attendance, dress code, confidentiality, or ethical standards.

Corrective measures

Warning notices serve as a roadmap for employees to correct their behavior or performance by outlining the corrective actions required to rectify the situation.

Instances of inappropriate behavior

Instances of misconduct, such as insubordination, harassment, or violation of workplace safety protocols, warrant issuing a warning notice. By addressing such issues promptly, employers uphold a safe and respectful work environment.

Tips for writing an effective employee warning notice

Conduct due diligence 

An employer must conduct their own investigation before issuing written warnings or taking disciplinary action. Understand what is being charged against the employee in the workplace and the details of the alleged incident. For example, if the warning is for “excessive absenteeism,” make sure you know each date those absences took place, over what period, and whether informal conversations took place about each occurrence.

Generally, in companies, the usual progression for employee discipline starts with a verbal warning, moves to a written warning, and ends with a final warning before termination. 

It is a good idea to have a clear employee discipline policy—including a methodical sequence of warnings and consequences—and to follow that policy exactly for all employees.

Talk with the employee privately

Interview the employee privately. They may have additional information that explains or clarifies the problem. For example, the person alleged of absenteeism might have told their manager or supervisor the reason for their absence. And the manager they told of their absence didn’t pass that information to the correct department. A private conversation may clear up misunderstandings before any formal steps are taken.

Write clear and explanatory written warnings

Be as specific as possible in your written warning notice. Explain clearly to the employee the circumstances why a particular warning notice is being sent, the expected behavior from them, how it is negatively affecting the team’s productivity, and what will happen if they fail to address the issue. Vagueness gives neither adequate warning of the issue nor opportunities for improvement and may serve to invalidate the warning itself.

Take prompt actions 

Ensure your research is completed and the warning is given as soon as possible after the incident occurs. A delayed warning will delay corrective action and can allow memories of an incident to fade or change over time.

Get the employee’s signature on the warning notice

Discuss the warning with your employees and ensure they understand why they’re being disciplined. Ask the employee to sign a copy of the document, acknowledging it was received. If an employee refuses to sign the warning notice, have a witness sign it indicating that they witnessed the employee’s receipt of the written warning. At the end of your meeting, give a copy of the signed written warning to your employee. Keep an additional copy of the warning notice in the employee file.


Maintaining a comprehensive record of employee conduct and performance is essential for future reference and decision-making. Written warnings serve as crucial documentation in an employee's personnel file, providing evidence of past infractions and corrective measures taken. Employers also mitigate potential legal risks if they have proof of the warning notice in writing.

What essential details should be included in the employee written warning letter?

The following information will help you understand the terms of the employee warning notice. Please review the entire document before sending the written warning to the employee.

Outline the details of employee misconduct

Set out the specific performance problem clearly and with as much detail as possible. Provide dates, witness names, and the exact nature of the issue. If a written company policy or manual was violated, include a reference to the rule that was violated. Statements like “Follow company policies about overtime” or “Do not remove company property” are insufficient. Explain your company’s policy and what further action the employee must take to follow these should be mentioned. If the employee’s behavior must change within a certain number of days/weeks, you must also include that detail here.

Make the employee aware of the consequences

Failing to comply with verbal warnings or other forms of warning will lead to different disciplinary actions. Explain to the employee your company’s “next steps.” If there is a progressive sequence of events that will occur, describe those in detail. For instance, if your company’s warning format is sending three written warnings, suspension, and then finally termination, explain these steps precisely.

Include the explanation provided by the employee for their behavior in the workplace

In this part, write the explanation provided by the employee in their defense for their misconduct or continued unsatisfactory performance in the workplace. 

Close the notice with the employee's signature on the warning letter

Ensure the employee understands that their signature doesn’t indicate agreement or acquiescence to the statements in the document; it simply shows that they received a copy. If the employee refuses to sign, have the document signed by an upper-level staff member who witnessed the employee’s receipt of the written form. In such cases, provide the staff member’s name and title under their signature.

Concluding note

An employee warning notice, together with a well-constructed employee disciplinary policy, will help foster a competent and productive workforce. Corrective measures can be taken quickly, and any impact on your business can be minimized. Moreover, if the employee is informed of future consequences for continuing violations and your company has ample documentation of these warnings, you will have taken a large step toward defending your business in any claims or lawsuits initiated down the road.

Frequently asked questions

What does an employee written warning mean?

When an employee violates a company policy, a written warning helps you. It offers a means of disciplining the employee to improve their awareness and job performance, and it also creates documentation for the company should punishment or dismissal prove necessary in the future.

The information you'll need to complete your employee written warning are:

  • Who it's going to: When you’re drafting an employee warning notice, you should know the employee's name and the department that’ll receive this disciplinary notice
  • Subject matter: Keep the details of the rule violation or performance issue
  • Dates: Be clear about the date of any specific incident and any previous warnings
  • Further action: Clarify the future expectations of behavior for the employee and any further disciplinary measures if behavior doesn't change

Does a warning letter need to be signed by the employee?

Typically, a warning letter doesn't need to be signed by the employee to be considered valid. However, it's often a good practice to offer the employee an opportunity to acknowledge receipt of the letter by signing it. This acknowledgment can serve as evidence that the employee has been made aware of the warning and its contents. Additionally, having the employee's signature can help prevent disputes about whether or not the warning was received.

In case when an employee refuses to sign, the warning notice can be signed by a witness to prevent future allegations and confusion.

How many written warnings before termination?

The number of written warnings required before termination can vary depending on company policies, employment contracts, and labor laws in the relevant jurisdiction. In some cases, one serious violation may be sufficient grounds for termination, while in others, a progressive discipline approach may be followed, with multiple warnings given before termination.

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