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How to Give Written Warnings at Work

Be sure to cover all the key points in a written warning so that the employee is respected, and the company is also protected.


  • Step 1: State the case clearly State the reason or cite the code for the infraction that prompted the disciplinary letter. Give a written warning in clear language that conveys that the purpose is to correct the behavior.
  • Step 2: Detail facts, sign, and date Detail pertinent facts and examples and list witnesses and dates of incidents. Sign and date the warning and have the employee do the same as recognition of receipt and understanding.
  • TIP: Issue the warning as soon as possible to avoid any confusion about whether or not an infraction occurred.
  • Step 3: Identify what must be improved Identify corrective measures and specify opportunities for improvement. Avoid invalidating the warning by failing to encourage the employee to rectify things.
  • Step 4: Include noncompliance warning Include legal wording in a statement describing the consequences of noncompliance.
  • Step 5: Offer counseling Offer counseling to benefits-eligible employees who wish to get help for a chronic problem related to the warning.
  • Step 6: Inform them of their rights Inform the employee of their right to appeal the action through staff resolution procedures. Be the honorable person you are asking your workers to be by giving everyone a fair chance.
  • FACT: A 2006 National Bureau of Economic Research report noted that job displacement -- loss of a job because the position has been eliminated -- led to a 15 to 20 percent increase in the probability of dying within the 20 years following a job loss.

You Will Need

  • Clear language
  • Facts
  • examples
  • witnesses
  • and dates
  • Corrective measures
  • Legal verbiage
  • Counselors
  • Honor
  • Verbal warning (optional)

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