32 Giving Written Warnings

This chapter will highlight about:

  • What is a written warning?
  • Significance of written warning
  • When to give a written warning?
  • Written warning format
  • Steps involved before and after first written warning
  • Second written warning
  • Final written warning
  • Disciplinary action after final written warning
  • Different between first written warning and the final written warning


What is a written warning?

According to a blog written by Kerri Fredericks, Written warning is a formal document provided by the authority to an employee, indicating a specific concern about general conduct or their actions in the workplace and the potential repercussions, if the employee does not shift their performance and behavior.

Significance of the written warning:

It is important to give a written warning as:

  • It helps the authorities to save their business from lawsuits as it helps them have a written record of the warnings given to the employees .
  • It gives the employees a clear picture of what sort of workplace behavior is expected from them.
  • It also gives the employees another chance to prove themselves after they receive a written warning.
  • Written warning also make everything transparent for every employee, so that they can learn from other’s mistakes and observe that everyone is treated equally.

When to give a written warning?

There are various pre-requisites before a written warning is given:

  • The manager/authoritarian issuing the written warning must make it very clear that what is the level of warning he/she is giving to the employee. This means that is it a primary warning , a strict warning or the last warning before the employee faces a disciplinary action.
  • The person issuing the written warning must consult with the disciplinary cell of the organization. He/she must clear it with the higher authorities if this is the appropriate time to issue a written warning or the matter can still be settled with an another verbal warning.
  • The issuing authority must collect the information about the employee’s  behavioral background. Also, the issue to be stated must be studied deeply before writing a written warning.
  • It is necessary to have a verbal conversation with the employee before issuing a written letter.
  • It is mandatory for the issuer of written warning to confirm if he/she is the one who is supposed to issue it.

Written Warning Format:

According to Indeed for employers  this can be considered as the ideal written Warning format:

  • Name of the organization
  • The warning number
  • Employee’s Name and his/her salutation
  • Supervisor’s Name
  • Human Resources Representative’s name
  • Date of issuing the warning
  • A statement of introduction
  • Mistakes of the employee
  • Repercussions if the employee fail to improve them
  • Signature of the supervisor and the date
  • Acknowledgement statement by the employee
  • Signature of the employee and the date


Steps involved before and after the written warnings:

 First Written Warning

Procedure before the Meeting

  • It includes reviewing of the notes regarding previously held Verbal Warning conversation and other material.
  • The meeting should officially take place in an office environment or the conference room.

During the Meeting

  • Mention the actual issue along with the behavior expected
  • Mention the earlier held conversation and the verbal warning.
  • Give the employee the opportunity to justify and explain their actions.
  • Inform the employee of the specific improvements expected in his/her performance and show confidence that he/she will change.
  • Have the employee affirm that he/she understands what exactly is expected from them.
  • Notify the employee that he/she will have to submit a memo summarizing the conversation.

After the Meeting

  • Give a brief summary of the conversation to the employee.
  • Send the copied of the conversation to the people who are actually affected by it.
  • Observe the employee’s performance to ensure that the issue has been solved.

The Memo

  • Date on which the conversation took place.
  • The main issue that took place.
  • A reference to the foregoing discussion about the problem.
  • A declaration of the specific change expected in the employee’s behavior and performance.
  • Any remarks or statements made by the employee during the meeting.
  • A fact showing your confidence in the employee that he/she will change.
  • Memo should be signed and verified by the employee. If the employee does not agree to sign the memo, a report regarding the attempt to have the employee sign and his/her denial to do so.


The Written Warning should be scheduled on the same day following the conversation.

Warning Distribution:

A copy of the warning is given to the employee and the other one is given to the HR department and the supervisor , this warning also becomes the part of employee’s personal record.

Disciplinary Actions after this written warning:

The employee can be suspended for his/her misconduct without any pay but this happens only when there is a major misconduct including sexual harassment, violence at the workplace , usage of drugs or alcohol in the working environment. Other than this employees are given chances to improve their behavior.

Second Written warning:

According to Terry Gorry, it is not necessary that every head gives his/her employee a second written warning before a final warning. Usually, a time period of a month or 2 is given to the employee to show his/her behavioral improvement. If no changes are observed, then the final warning will be issued.

Final Written Warning:

A final written warning is a document that is used a formal record by the supervisor regarding the continuous misbehavior or not up-to the mark performance of the employee. This type of written warning is issued only when the initial two steps have taken place ( Verbal warning and written warning ) but still there is no improvement in the employee. The same written warning procedure is followed again.

Disciplinary action after a final written warning :

The dismissal is the ultimate after effect of a final written warning. Usually the employee to be dismissed have a meeting with his/her supervisor and he/she is given the orders to leave for a period of 7-14 days. He/she is also given the period to appeal and is told whom to appeal to.

The difference between a first written warning and the final written warning:

According to a blog written on Personio, the first written warning is issued as an initial warning for the employee, when there is any misbehavior observed but the final written warning is the last warning before a strict disciplinary action taken against the employee.


Sample 1
Sample 1,  via : www.sampletemplates.com
Sample 2
Sample 2, via: www.sampletemplates.com

Key Takeaways

You now know that:

  • Written warning is issued by a supervisor/ head to the employee which not only improve the employee behavior but also the business.
  • A verbal conversation between the employee and head is required before issuing a written warning.
  • There is a specific format of writing a written warning.
  • There are three types of warning letters: First, second and final.
  • The final written warning has the most serious disciplinary actions.



Fredericks, K. (2019, June 5). Written warnings in workplaces. Retrieved from aft legal: https://www.aft.legal/written-warnings-in-the-workplace/

Fuscaldo, D. (2020, September 29). Is It Time to Issue a Written Warning Letter? Retrieved from Business news daily: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15836-should-you-issue-written-warning.html#:~:text=%20Here%20are%20four%20major%20reasons%20why%20it%27s,want%20a%20good%20salary%20and%20fair…%20More%20

others, J. H. (2019, November 8). How to know, when to give an employee a written warning. Retrieved from WikiHOW: https://www.wikihow.com/Know-When-to-Give-an-Employee-a-Written-Warning

Paul Forster, R. K. (2004, November). Employee warning notice : a template for issuing a warning. Retrieved from Indeed for employers: https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/employee-warning-notice

Policy library. (n.d.). Retrieved from Georgia tech: https://policylibrary.gatech.edu/search/results?as_q=progressive%20discipline%20procedures

Gorry, T. (2014, November 8). Employment Rights Ireland. Retrieved from A Step by Step Disciplinary Procedure-From Verbal Warning to Dismissal: https://employmentrightsireland.com/a-step-by-step-disciplinary-procedure-from-verbal-warning-to-dismissal/







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