Employee Warning Notice: 20 Free Templates & Examples

Employee Warning Notice: 20 Free Templates & Examples

Few managers enjoy giving warnings to employees, but it’s an important part of most management and senior roles. When things aren’t done correctly, or an employee behaves inappropriately, there are systems in place to, firstly, notify the individual of their poor performance and, secondly, explain the consequences of further mistakes or misconduct. Depending on company policy, a written employee warning notice may be the first or second step in the disciplinary process.

This article discusses the key features of an employee warning notice and shares advice on how to write yours correctly.

What Is An Employee Warning Notice?

An employee warning notice is a written document – digital or on paper – that informs an employee they have breached company policy and/or behaved in ways that are inappropriate while at work. Some businesses give out these written warnings as a first strike for poor performance, but most deliver a verbal warning first and follow up with a written warning if performance does not improve.

The manager or supervisor in charge of a team may be authorized to hand out employee warning notices, but they must only do so for clear infractions, and the motivation for doing so must be clearly stated to the recipient. From a legal perspective, it’s important these notices include certain elements so that, in the event of further disciplinary action, a fired employee cannot claim unfair dismissal.

What Is An Employee Warning Notice Template?

An employee warning notice template is a pre-formatted document designed to be used as a writing guide. Most of these templates come with a pre-prepared layout and headings (where appropriate). Some others contain preloaded content that can be used as an example, then edited and personalized.

Because employee warning notices are used as legal evidence in some rare cases of employer-employee relationship breakdowns, they must follow a particular format. If you’re unsure how to write one, using a template is a great way to get the details right.

Employee Warning Notice Templates & Examples

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Employee Warning Notice.doc

Employee Warning Notice

SAMPLE – Written Warning for Misconduct


    How Can Employee Warning Notice Examples Help You?

    Managers without much experience handling employee warnings are encouraged to use warning notice templates as an example of what to write. Certain criteria must be met for a written warning to be valid, so including the right types of information is a way to protect your right to deliver one.

    Using an employee warning notice template can help you to write clearly, succinctly, and professionally. If the matter escalates to dismissal and further dispute, a skillfully written document is your proof that you enacted the company’s disciplinary policy appropriately.

    Essential Elements of An Employee Warning Notice

    A valid employee warning notice includes the following information:

    • Company’s full name
    • Recipient’s full name and job title
    • Date of issue
    • Notice issuer’s full name and job title
    • Notice issuer’s email address and/or work number
    • Reference number for a warning notice
    • Full name of recipient’s HR representative
    • Contact details for recipient’s HR representative
    • An itemized list of all infractions committed thus far (with dates)
    • Details of action(s) taken in response to listed infractions
    • Reason for employee warning notice (and any pertinent details)
    • Reference to the company policy and/or clause that has been breached
    • Actions required to avoid further disciplinary processes (with deadlines)
    • Explanation of what happens next if the recipient doesn’t improve
    • Date of recipient’s next performance review
    • Space for recipient’s signature (and date signed)
    • Notice issuer’s signature
    • Recipient’s HR representative’s signature

    Employee Warning Notice Form

    Here is an example of what an employee warning notice should look like. You can use this example as a template for your own written notices:

    [Company Name]

    [Warning Reference Number]

    [Employee’s Full Name]

    [Employee’s Job Title]

    [Notice Issuer’s Name & Job Title]

    [HR Representative’s Name]

    [Date of Issue]

    Dear [Employee’s Name],

    I write this warning notice to inform you that your recent actions are in breach of [company name] policy and therefore subject to disciplinary proceedings. I have notified your HR representative of these circumstances, and you should direct any concerns about the validity of this warning to this individual. Listed below are the previous warnings delivered before this written notice:

    Infraction 1: [description of the infraction, date of infraction, and action taken]

    Infraction 2: [description of the infraction, date of infraction, and action taken]

    Written Warning Notice: [description of the infraction, date of infraction, and action taken]

    As per company policy, further actions will be taken (including suspension) if you do not meet the following requirements by [deadline for improvement]. I will review your performance on [date of review] to determine if such actions are required:

    [action required from employee]

    [action required from employee]

    If the review determines these requirements have not been met, the next steps are for me to issue you with a [second/third] written warning, followed by an emergency meeting, suspension, and, potentially, termination of your employment. Such actions will only be considered if your conduct and/or performance fails to improve by the date given.

    If there are extenuating circumstances affecting your performance, please inform your HR representative immediately. We may be able to provide support, but you must work with us to improve your conduct.

    [Issuer’s signature and date]

    [HR rep’s signature and date]

    Employee Acknowledgement: I hereby acknowledge I have committed the above-listed infractions and am committed to making the corrections required to continue my employment with [company name].

    [Employee’s signature and date]

    Tips to Improve Your Employee Warning Notice

    Always use professional language while writing an employee warning notice, even if you have personal connections to the recipient. Don’t forget; this is a legally significant document with potentially serious consequences. Here are some more tips for improving your employee warnings and writing in a clear, professional manner:

    • Avoid emotive language and descriptions unless it’s necessary to quote inappropriate remarks. Consult your company’s disciplinary handbook for the correct way to refer to various types of infractions.
    • Be specific about which actions were offensive and where relevant, reference the company’s disciplinary handbook to prove they are in breach.
    • Include dates for all separate infractions and previously issued warnings to create a legally valid record of disciplinary proceedings thus far.
    • If you feel it’s relevant, describe the consequences of the employee’s infraction but be concise. (For example, Your failure to perform the necessary safety checks on 03/16/2021 resulted in your colleague Brian Simpson sustaining a hand injury that required a visit to the ER and two weeks of leave]. Not all infractions will have an immediate impact, and it is enough to simply demonstrate that a particular action is against company policy.
    • If there is reason to mention another employee (see above), include only the demonstrable facts. If there are multiple offenders, they must each receive a personalized warning notice. If another employee has been adversely affected, their privacy should be respected as far as possible.
    • Do not make any legal conclusions. If the employee’s infraction is serious enough to warrant legal action, it is likely serious enough to warrant immediate suspension. Companies are not obligated to give verbal and/or written warnings for arrestable offenses such as violent conduct or theft.
    • Do not include any supporting documents unless the employee requests additional evidence via their HR representative. The purpose of a written warning is to notify an employee that their behavior must improve. It’s not a court case. Keep evidentiary documents in the company’s files in case they’re needed.
    • Only include previous verbal and written warnings when relevant and recent. A disciplinary note issued five years before your current warning notice for an unrelated incident is not helpful. Use your discretion to decide.
    • Always include the recipient’s HR representative to protect yourself and ensure the individual is fully informed of their rights. No matter the reason for the warning, they should have access to a representative who understands the company’s policy and whether it is being applied correctly.


    What is the correct way to warn an employee?

    If you’re unsure about the process, consult your company’s disciplinary handbook, as organizations have slightly different ways of approaching misconduct in the workplace. Most dispense verbal warnings and only graduate to written warning notices if the conduct does not improve. Some companies allow multiple verbal warnings before they escalate to written warnings. Others give only one.

    How many warnings do you have to give an employee?

    Again, it depends on your company’s disciplinary policy. The important thing is that all warnings are documented, and the offending employee is given at least one explicit chance to improve before serious action (fines, suspension, dismissal) is taken. If you believe a criminal offense has been committed, it may be serious enough to supersede internal warnings and move straight to police action though this is rare.

    You must always adhere to the disciplinary code in your company’s handbook. You must not skip or escalate to serious actions without due cause unless criminal acts are involved. This is regardless of how you feel personally about the situation.

    Can I get fired without a written warning?

    Unless a serious infraction or crime has been committed, companies are not allowed to dismiss employees before giving them a written warning to improve. Such infractions include violent behavior, harassment, or fraud. It should be stated in the company’s disciplinary handbook when such infractions meet the threshold for immediate dismissal.

    If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed, contact your state labor office for advice.

    What happens if you get a written warning at work?

    The severity of the written warning depends on the company’s disciplinary policy. Some companies issue just one written notice before escalating to more serious actions. Other companies will issue two or even three written notices to employees in breach.

    You must receive a copy of the written warning for your own records and be asked to sign a copy of the company’s files. An employee warning is only valid if you have signed it to acknowledge you are aware of the disciplinary proceedings and have agreed to its terms. Managers cannot issue warnings without involving the subject; otherwise, they don’t count as warnings at all.

    How many verbal warnings are there?

    It is entirely dependent on a company’s disciplinary policy. Some companies issue two or even three verbal warnings before graduating to written warnings. Others issue one verbal warning and then escalate immediately to written notices. It should always be clear to the employee what the next step in the disciplinary proceedings will be.

    How long does a written warning last at work?

    A written employee warning notice should last until the date of the employee’s next performance review. If performance and/or conduct are improved, the notice will be closed and filed for reference. If no improvements are seen, a new action should be undertaken. If this is another written notice, it should be given a unique reference number and treated as a separate entity to the first notice and documented as such.

    How do you respond to a written warning at work?

    The first step is to read the warning carefully to make sure you understand which of your actions are in breach of company policy and why. If you feel the accusations are unfair or inaccurate, contact your HR representative to discuss your concerns and what to do next.

    If you accept the information laid out in the warning and wish to avoid further disciplinary actions, open up a dialogue with the notice issuer. Sign the notice to show you acknowledge and accept the steps required to resolve the matter.


    It’s never much fun to hand out warning notices to employees but, when handled in the right way, they can be a constructive tool on the journey to better job performance and even improved employer-employee relations.