An employee warning notice is a legal document that outlines the employee’s performance issues and the steps they will take to improve.
It also provides a signed and dated acknowledgment of the performance problems and outlines consequences should the employee fail to make appropriate changes.
You can use an employee warning notice to enhance worker performance. The notice also serves as legal documentation for labor disputes, workers’ compensation, and unemployment claims.
What Should an Employee Warning Notice Include?
An employee warning notice should include the following:
- Employee information, including the name, job title or position, employee ID or number, department, and other relevant identifying details
- Warning date on which the warning notice is being issued
- Description of the issue, including dates, times, locations, and any witnesses or evidence related to the incident(s). Be specific and avoid personal judgments or opinions
- Policy or rule violation that the employee has violated
- Prior discussions or actions, if there were previous verbal warnings, or other disciplinary actions taken
- Expected behavior or performance that the employee is required to meet moving forward
- Potential consequences if the employee fails to improve or similar incidents occur in the future
- Signature of the manager and employee
How to Warn an Employee
Follow these steps while warning an employee about behavior or performance:
- Consider issuing a verbal warning if it’s a first offense.
- Schedule a private meeting with the employee away from other employees and customers.
- Clearly outline the basis for the written notice, including the dates and times misconduct occurred.
- Advise the employee on how to correct their conduct.
- Indicate a timeline within which they must fix the issue.
- Advise of the consequences should the employee fail to correct their behavior.
- Fill out the employee warning notice and have the employee sign and date the acknowledgment.
Your goal is to provide the employee with a clear explanation of the problem and how the employee can address it. A written warning emphasizes that the employee’s misconduct is serious.
How to Write an Employee Warning Notice
Proper documentation is a critical part of monitoring employee performance. Follow these steps to write an employee warning notice:
Step 1 – Enter Identifying Information
Print your name, title, and company information at the top of the page. Add the employee’s name, title, and address.
Step 2 – Enter Appropriate Dates
Enter the date of the written warning and the dates and times when the misconduct occurred. You can use an additional sheet to list the dates of multiple occurrences. You should include documentation to support these claims, if available.
Step 3 – Describe the Misconduct or Performance Issue
Include important details about the type of misconduct and explain why the behavior or incident was unacceptable. Reference appropriate company policies, rules, and regulations.
Print references from the employee handbook, employment contract, or other governing documents if possible.
Step 4 – Advise of the Steps the Employee Must Take to Improve
Specify the way the employee must change their behavior or actions they need to take to improve their performance. This may include discontinuing unwanted behaviors or enhancing their performance in certain areas.
Step 5 – Set a Time Limit for Improvement
Establish a date or timeline for your employee to improve their behavior or performance. Advise that their immediate action is necessary, and they must show sustained improvement to avoid further negative consequences.
Step 6 – Outline the Consequences of Failure to Improve
Employees may be subject to multiple write-ups before termination depending on your company’s policies.
Step 7 – Sign the Form
Both the manager and employee must sign and date the form. Include an acknowledgment receipt for the employee’s signature. The acknowledgment indicates that the employee has received and understands the written warning.
It also states that they agree to improve their performance consistent with the provided expectations.
Employee Warning Notice Sample
Reduce the stress of the employee warning process by using this template employee warning notice form from LegalTemplates.
When to Use an Employee Warning Notice
Most employers use an employee warning notice or written warning when an employee engages in illegal behavior or misconduct that goes against workplace rules.
Misconduct that could lead to an employee warning notice includes:
- Unprofessional behavior
- Breaking business rules, such as a cell phone policy
- Repeated mistakes with no improvement
- Failure to complete job duties
- Failure to follow instructions
- Failure to follow the dress code policy
- Fraud, theft, or other dishonest practices
Local, state, and federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  establish regulatory standards that can affect your employment practices. Before you begin the employee warning process, review applicable laws, or consider consulting with an employment attorney.
Importance of Using an Employee Warning Notice
A written warning provides essential documentation for both operational and legal processes. The advantages of using an employee warning notice include the following:
Employee Performance Enhancement
The best outcome following a written warning is improved employee behavior. By outlining expectations in writing, you give the employee a chance to improve their performance, which can, in turn, improve your business’s overall performance.
You can also provide periodic employee evaluations to keep their performance on track.
Legal Documentation for Labor Disputes
A labor dispute may arise if the employee does not receive a bonus, promotion, or raise. A written employee warning notice provides documentation to support your decision.
It also gives them guidelines to improve their performance for future raises or promotions.
Supporting Documentation for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Some workplace injuries occur due to an employee’s misconduct. A written warning notice gives you documentation to dispute or deny workers’ compensation if the employee’s injury was due to their negligent actions.
Workers’ compensation laws and requirements differ by state, so consult a workers’ comp attorney before acting.
Documentation to Dispute Unemployment Claims
While unemployment requirements differ by state, most do not allow the employee to seek compensation if the termination was due to misconduct or poor job performance.
If you terminate an employee for misconduct, written employee warning notices help you defend against invalid unemployment claims that can drive up your premiums.