Employee Warning Notice (With Template and Sample)

Part of managing a business is addressing employee performance and behaviors that don’t meet your standards. One method of taking disciplinary action is a written employee warning notice. Employee warning letters can encourage employees to improve their work performance, and they provide evidence of poor performance if you decide to fire the employee. Learn the basics of employment warning letters and use the included written warning template with your employees.
 
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What is an employee warning notice?

An employee warning notice is a formal document that states an employee’s wrongdoing, such as failure to adhere to company policies, unprofessional behavior or tardiness. Your employee handbook should contain information on what is considered an infraction according to your HR policies. It often includes how the employee needs to correct behaviors and additional consequences. A written warning often comes after verbal warnings if the employee doesn’t improve.
 

What to include in an employee warning notice

Consider including these elements in your employee warning notice:
 

  • Company name
  • Warning number
  • Name of employee and job title
  • Name of supervisor
  • Name of HR representative
  • Date of issue
  • Introductory statement
  • Infractions incurred by the employee
  • Consequences of failure to correct infractions
  • Supervisor signature and date
  • Employee acknowledgment statement
  • Employee signature and date

How to warn an employee

Warnings are often part of progressive discipline in the workplace. Many companies start with verbal warnings and progress to written warnings. You might also create a plan with the employee to correct their behavior before you introduce more severe consequences, up to termination.
 

When warning an employee about behavior or performance, be clear and firm. Inform them of what will happen if they don’t correct the issue. Let the employee know that you want them to succeed.
 

Written warning template

This employee warning form template can help you create your own employee warning notice document.
 
[Company Name]
Warning [number]
Employee Name:
Job Title:
Supervisor Name:
HR Representative Name:
 
Date:
 
Dear [Employee Full Name]
 
Your HR department has been informed by your manager that you have committed the following actions which do not comply with [Company Name] policies:

  • Infraction 1: Explanation
  • Infraction 2: Explanation (if more than one infraction)
  • Infraction 3: Explanation (if more than two infractions)

You received a verbal warning on [Date].
 

The following consequences will be applied, in order of escalation, should you not demonstrate improvement or cease violation of company policies:

  1. Second verbal warning
  2. Second documented warning notice
  3. Job suspension without pay for one workweek
  4. Third and final warning notice followed by an in-person meeting
  5. Termination of employment (Should the past warnings and suspension not result in improvement of actions)

We are determined to continue enlisting your expert knowledge as a [job title] within our company, and we will do whatever we can to help you improve your performance to meet our quality standards.
 
Supervisor Signature: (Supervisor name here) Date: (Date approved here)
 
Employee Acknowledgement: I hereby acknowledge that I have committed the above infractions and am able and willing to make the required corrections to continue my employment with [Company Name]
 
Employee Signature: (Employee name here) Date: (Date read here)
 

Employee warning notice example

Here is an example of a drafted employee warning notice:
 
TechMarket Technology Systems & Solutions Co.
Warning 1
Employee Name: Mark Bell
Job Title: Internal Systems Engineer
Supervisor Name: Kristen Marche
HR Representative Name: Casey Landen
 
Date: 2/07/20
 
Dear Mark Bell,
 
Your HR department has been informed by your manager that you have committed the following actions which do not comply with TechMarket Technology Systems & Solutions Company policies:
 

  • Infraction 1: Failure to meet initial project deadline for 1/21/20 and makeup deadline for 1/28/20.

You received a verbal warning on January 25, 2020.
 
The following consequences will be applied, in order of escalation, should you not demonstrate improvement or cease violation of company policies: 

  1. Second verbal warning
  2. Second warning notice issued
  3. Job suspension without pay for one workweek
  4. Third and final warning notice followed by an in-person meeting
  5. Termination of employment

We are determined to continue enlisting your expert knowledge as an internal systems engineer within our company, and we will do whatever we can to help you improve your performance to meet our quality standards.
 
Supervisor signature: Kristen Marche Date: 2/07/20
 
Employee Acknowledgement: I hereby acknowledge that I have committed the above infractions and am able and willing to make the required corrections to continue my employment with the TechMarket Technology Systems & Solutions Company.
 
Employee signature: Mark Bell Date: 2/07/20
 
Related: Performance Improvement Plan
 

Tips for giving written warnings

There are a few tips to consider when giving written warnings to employees.
 

  • Issue a verbal warning first: A written warning should only follow a verbal warning and the employee’s failure to correct the actions discussed. Schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss the behavior, and allow them time to demonstrate compliance before moving on to a written statement.
  • Clearly describe infractions: Include specific dates, persons involved and other details to ensure the reason for the warning is clear.
  • Conclude with a positive statement. Express that the company’s goal is to improve their relationship with the employee and chances for mutual success.

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees
 

Employee warning FAQs

Here are some common questions about employee warning notices:
 

What method should you use to deliver a warning notice to an employee?

Send this document in an email, with a subject line that clearly indicates the subject, or deliver a printed copy through HR. You can also schedule a meeting to give the employee the written document and discuss plans for improvement.
 

What actions constitute a warning versus an automatic termination of employment?

Warnings generally address the failure to adhere to workplace policies, inconsistent work performance or late attendance. Some events may call for immediate termination, including workplace harassment, fraudulent activity or verbal and physical violence toward coworkers.
 

What should happen after you issue a warning notice to an employee?

After delivering a warning notice, meet with the employee to discuss the next steps. Listen to their concerns and emphasize your desire to improve the situation. Closely monitor the employee’s performance and praise them for improvements to maintain a positive outlook.
 

How many warnings do you have to give an employee?

Every company sets its own policies on the types of warnings used and the number of warnings an employee receives before termination or other disciplinary actions. You might give one verbal warning before moving onto a written warning for the same issue. Some companies use the three strikes method before firing an employee, but it’s often up to your discretion based on the situation. Some infractions might be serious enough to skip warnings and fire the employee immediately. Check with your state labor laws to understand the legal aspects of firing an employee.
 

How do you end a disciplinary letter?

End a disciplinary letter with the next steps or the expected correction for the issues. Be clear on what will happen if the employee doesn’t correct the issue. Include a spot at the bottom for the manager’s and employee’s signature. Include a statement that says the signature indicates that the employee received the letter.
 

Is a PIP a written warning?

A performance improvement plan (PIP) isn’t the same as a written warning, but it’s often used along with a written warning or other types of reprimand. The PIP outlines the performance issue, improvement goals and steps the employee needs to take to get there. You might develop a PIP for the employee at the same time as the written warning, or you might give them a warning first and create a PIP if they don’t improve on their own.

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