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How To Write an Employee Warning Letter (Free Templates)

10 min read

Misconduct or violation of work protocols, though uncommon, is a part & parcel of the professional world. Such incidents necessitate immediate address to avoid plummeting the seriousness of the situation. 

Certain employee lifecycles call for a warning to be issued for various ill aspects of their work tenure. It can be poor performance, absenteeism, dishonesty, breaking office rules and more, all of which are deemed intolerable by companies. ‘

It is a clear & short communication that entails the policy breach committed and the consequences that will follow if they do not improve.  

It is advisable to deliver a couple of verbal warnings first before going ahead with the written form. This helps to avoid escalation of an easily solvable, minor problem.

Remember that the ultimate aim of the warning letter is to encourage employees to do better and work on their misdoings, not to deter them from working for you completely.

You want your employees to discipline themselves and understand the impact their misconduct has on their work and the company culture in general.  

Take stricter steps like suspension or termination if the employee fails to conform to the warnings or commits fraud or harassment. 

Sending a warning letter to employees is recommended to: 

  • Document the misconduct of the employee to store & keep track for the future 
  • Ensure the employee understands the gravity of the situation and the need for timebound improvement 
  • Maintain record for termination in legal cases 

A warning letter should never be given in an open public space. Sending an email to set up a meeting in the HR manager’s cabin would be the ideal option.  

Things to keep in mind while writing a warning letter to employees: 

Language & tone: Follow a formal way of writing with a professional tone that stresses on the seriousness of the situation. However, ensure that the words don’t intimidate the employee. Your goal is to bring the change in the employees’ behaviour at the end of the day.  

Structure: The warning letter format or structure is paramount. The preferred way of curating it would be as follows: 

  • Date of the warning 
  • Name of the person who issued the letter with address (usually issued on company letterhead) 
  • Subject 
  • Name of the employee 
  • Section with the details of the violation 
  • Reasons why this situation is considered a violation of company policies 
  • Disciplinary actions that the organization will take 
  • Your signature  

Content: Write to the point. Long sentences without any purpose or those that reiterate what’s mentioned earlier will do no good. Shorter letters make the most impact. Go straight to the details without bringing excessive emotions. Don’t forget to include the date to add credibility. 

Proofread: Reviewing the letter before handing it over to the employee is very important to prevent any conflicts later due to minor errors. Ensure it is being sent to the right person with the correct details. There cannot be room for mess-ups.  

Acknowledgement: Once the letter is delivered, you want to confirm with the employee that they have infact received it. For this, ask the employee to sign it, in case of a physical letter or a follow-up, if it was an email.  

The following templates can be used to flag an employee’s behavior as inappropriate, stress on the severity and underline monitoring duration. You can edit the templates as required.  

Template 1- For poor performance 


Employer’s full name: 

Office address: 

Re: Warning notice for poor performance 

Dear (Employee’s name), 

Your performance is consistently falling short of our company standards. You aren’t meeting assigned deadlines, delivering quality work or reaching your individual goals.  

This letter is to serve as the first official warning and enlighten you with the consequences that follow if you fail to improve. You are being given a duration of (weeks/months permitted) to take the actions listed and ameliorate your unsatisfactory performance.  


If you choose to ignore this warning or fail to make a mark by the allotted time, we may have to take stricter actions, including suspension and termination. 

Please note that this letter isn’t to discourage you but rather understand your pain points and ways we can help you reach your goals. We are confident that you will come out brighter on the other side.  

However, if you want to appeal against this decision or discuss anything related to this letter, you may contact me directly.  





Template 2- For absenteeism 


Employer’s full name:  

Office address: 


Re: Warning for attendance  


Dear (Employee’s name), 

As you are aware, your attendance isn’t up to the mark. You were given multiple verbal warnings from your manager to improve but you failed to do so.  

We take attendance seriously and we expect you to do the same from now on. Your absenteeism is negatively impacting your individual work and team productivity. Every employee has a set of responsibilities and tasks to perform. Inability to reach the targets hampers the team’s morale and net value.  

It has also come to our knowledge that you take leaves without prior intimation and often log out much before your work timings, even when there is pending work. 

This letter is to serve as the first official warning and enlighten you with the consequences that follow if you fail to improve. You are being given a duration of (weeks/months permitted) to better your attendance.  

If you choose to ignore this warning or fail to regularize your attendance by the allotted time, we may have to take stricter actions, including suspension and termination. 

Please reach out to me if you want to discuss this letter or appeal against the decisions mentioned. That being said, we are here to know and support if any of your personal problems is leading to this situation. 






Template 3- For inappropriate behavior 



Employer’s full name:  

Office address: 


Re: Warning for disciplinary issue 


Dear (Employee’s name), 

It has come to our knowledge that you (misconduct the employee did) at/on the (respective) event/day. We would like to strongly put this forward that this kind of behavior is neither expected nor tolerated at our company. 

Effective immediately, we are putting you on a warning period of (duration). During this time, your behavior will be closely monitored.  

Please take this warning letter seriously as we do not entertain company policy violations. We expect you to apologize (in case of fights/harassment) / improve your behavior and furnish a written apology within 3 days.  

If you choose not to submit the apology or commit the mistake again, we may be forced to take stricter actions, including but not limited to suspension and termination.  

Each employee is valuable to us and we believe you to be our asset. As such, we want you to better yourself. Please contact me directly if you wish to appeal against this decision or discuss anything related to this letter.  





Over to you: 

While writing a warning letter, always offer support, clarifications and assistance with any queries they may have to ensure you listen to their side of the story too. Don’t jump to conclusions or get personal.

Your end goal is to improve their performance/attendance/behavior. To ensure performance-related errors don’t lead to uneventful issuance of warning letters, use a performance management system like Keka. It keeps track of every goal, sub-goal, and target created to be completed monthly, quarterly, or annually. Never go wrong with employees’ performance evaluations with Keka. 

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    Meet the author

    Dr. Nishat Afzal

    Content Writer

    A dentist by profession and writer by choice, Nishat is the Communications Manager and Content Writer at Keka Technologies. A literature lover and a religious fan of Ruskin Bond, her magic works best in creating pieces that involve story-telling, emotional punches, facts & current affairs. If not found sewing letters together to form impactful phrases, Nishat can be seen doing RCTs, crocheting or eating to her heart's content.


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