What is a written warning?

A written warning is an admonition employers give staff members concerning behavior or performance issues. Typically, employers send a written warning only after giving one or more verbal warnings. 

What is the purpose of a written warning?

A written warning formally outlines a person’s misconduct and the corresponding consequences. The warning reflects the seriousness of the situation while also providing time and support to help the professional to improve. If the employer does need to let the person go, the written warning serves as evidence and grounds for termination.

What’s the proper way to warn an employee?

Before issuing a written warning, address the person with verbal warnings. You can do this over the phone or in a meeting with another manager present. If the issue still doesn’t resolve, only then consider a written warning. You can send the written warning by email, deliver it through HR, or during a private meeting.

What should you include in an employee warning notice?

When writing a warning, make sure it’s concise and straightforward, stating and numbering each infraction. The warning should include: 

  • Date of occurrence 
  • Supervisor’s name
  • HR representative’s name
  • Job title
  • The professional’s name 
  • A brief account of the preceding recent verbal warnings 
  • Expected actions to change conduct
  • Consequences for failing to meet expectations 
  • Company policy regarding the warning’s time frame (typically 12 months) and the length of time it remains on the employee record (usually 6-12 months)
  • Option for an appeal

What are some examples of written warnings?

Employers typically send written warnings for:  

  • Repeatedly arriving late or not at all 
  • Using profanity or inappropriate language 
  • Harassment
  • Poor work performance
  • Abusing company property 
  • Violating safety procedures

What are some tips for giving written warnings to employees?

The way you draft and deliver a written warning directly impacts the person and the employer. Let’s look at six steps you can take to issue effective and professional warnings: 

  1. State the infraction in clear language. This ensures that everyone understands the transgression and avoids any legal confusion.   
  2. Draw a direct connection between the violation and the relevant company policy found in the employee handbook
  3. Document the infringement as soon as possible. Warnings written at the time of the occurrence have higher legal standing than documents written up weeks later. 
  4. Follow through with whatever the warning says—whether that’s termination or giving another warning for continuous poor conduct. 
  5. Ensure consistency and transparency so that everyone receives equal treatment.  
  6. If relevant, review the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and invite a union representative to be present when giving the warning.

Why should written warnings be a part of modern HR strategy?

Setting boundaries is essential for workplace relationships. By incorporating written warnings, HR can set clear boundary lines that show people when they’ve crossed a line and need to clean up their act. Written warnings enable companies to establish and maintain workplace standards while also giving their staff the chance to improve poor performance or behavior.