Give a Warning to an Employee

Letter #1


Your writing skills are an asset to Doe Corporation; however, your inability to work five days a week and complete projects on time is slowing our production schedule and may jeopardize your employment. During the past two weeks you have called in sick three times, bringing your total sick days for the year to 15. If this pattern continues, we will no longer be able to employ you.

As you know, we discussed these problems in detail on Thursday, May 6, in your quarterly review. I told you then that you had no more sick days. I also reviewed with you the various ailments that you claimed to be suffering from when you called in sick the thirteen times prior to our meeting. After our discussion, you said you were feeling much better. I also informed you that if you were to call in sick once more without medical verification, we would terminate your employment.

We feel you can make a good contribution to our corporate effort, and hope that you will overcome this recurring problem. You have significant potential.

Letter #2


You are a congenial person to work with and you always seem to be available when new jobs start. However, I have received numerous complaints from customers about your apparent lack of follow-through. Most recently, the Does phoned to say that you had promised to finish their concrete work two weeks ago. You still have not done the work and have not contacted them. I have other complaints of a similar nature on file.

You and I discussed some of these problems last month at your quarterly review. I have enclosed a copy of that review for your benefit. You will remember that I expressed my hope that your performance would improve. You promised then that you would schedule your time better and finish all work as promised. These new complaints indicate that you have not been successful.

I will give you one more chance. Service is central to our business and timely service is paramount. You can expect a review at the end of this month. If there is one new customer complaint, I will terminate your employment. So that you understand, I want to stress that the average number of complaints in our employee files is one per employee per year. You have four already this month.

Letter #3


You have truly been an energetic, fun-loving employee in our organization. Nevertheless, I must inform you that your continued careless use of your expense account puts your future with Doe Corporation in jeopardy. I have highlighted the more egregious excesses on the enclosed copy of your last expense report. The highlighted examples alone represent over $2,500. There are also other parts of the report that I question.

As you are aware, this is the second time in the past 12 months that I have contacted you about your expense account. The last time you passed it off as mere sloppiness on your part and promised to improve. This most recent report does not look like "mere sloppiness" to me. I expect a full explanation in writing no later than noon, Friday, November 22, 2019. You must justify every highlighted item on the report. If you are unable to do this to my satisfaction, I will have to terminate your employment with Doe Corporation.

I trust you will be able to satisfy my concerns. You have tremendous potential. Still, I must have full confidence in my employees.

Letter #4


During the past three years of your employment, you have demonstrated a terrific work ethic. Doe Motors appreciates your industry. It has, however, come to my attention that you again have taken cars up for sale for your personal use after business hours. From our prior discussion, I know you are aware that Doe is opposed to this practice. Furthermore, it is obvious the car keys are locked in the control box at night to prevent unauthorized use. You have apparently skirted that preventive measure by picking the lock.

You are on probation for three months as of the date of this letter. Your authorization to remove any car from the lot during the day or night is revoked. If you do drive any car alone within the next three months, you will be terminated. Doe cannot afford the legal liability this practice carries.

If, after three months, you have demonstrated that you are trustworthy, I will restore your prior work status. I hope you can put this practice behind you. I need your help during these busy months and value your work ethic.

How to Write this Reprimand Letter: Expert Tips and Guidelines

If an employee's performance is not acceptable and does not improve after an initial face-to-face discussion, this letter is the next step to resolving the problem. Use specific language so there is no room for misunderstanding. Clearly state what must be improved and give and deadline. The letter then becomes part of your written record to justify future action if necessary. Also see "Document employee reprimands."


  1. Begin with a recognition of some of the employee's positive traits.
  2. Discuss the employee's weakness frankly, calling attention to the most recent incident that makes this letter necessary. Keep the focus on the employee's behavior.
  3. Review the last discussion that you had with the employee about the problem (This review is your documentation that the employee was given adequate warning).
  4. Explain clearly what corrective action the employee must take, and what the consequences will be if his or her performance does not meet this expectation.
  5. Close with an expression of encouragement.

Write Your reprimand in Minutes: Easy Step-by-Step Guide with Sample Sentences and Phrases

1 Begin with a recognition of some of the employee's positive traits.

Sample Sentences for Step 1

  • Your congenial manner helps our office staff cope with the daily stress of our business.
  • Your performance in sales has been more than satisfactory since you joined the company.
  • I have been pleased with your willingness to help with so many extracurricular activities at our school. We value your assistance.
  • You have an exceptional talent for solving our networking problems, and we have appreciated your service very much.
  • I have appreciated the fact that you are always busy keeping our machinery in good condition.
  • Over the past three years, your contributions to the firm have been substantial.
  • We have been impressed by how you have motivated your department to become one of the most productive in the company.
  • Your creativity and enthusiasm are invigorating to the division.
  • Your vigorous approach to sales has benefited the company.
  • I have appreciated all that you have done for me as my assistant.
  • We appreciate your willingness to help with so many of the school's extracurricular activities.
  • You have an exceptional talent for solving our networking problems, and we have appreciated this service very much.
  • We feel fortunate to have teachers like you who care about education.

Key Phrases for Step 1

  • always been able to rely on your
  • appreciate your thoroughness
  • during the time we have worked together
  • have an exceptional talent for
  • have always found you to be
  • have appreciated you for your
  • have appreciated all that you have
  • have been a source of
  • have counted on you to be
  • have been impressed by
  • have a remarkable ability to
  • have been a source of
  • have done an excellent job of
  • have impressed me with
  • have looked upon you as
  • have been very beneficial to
  • have regarded you as an asset to
  • have long appreciated your
  • highly value your help
  • made a substantial contribution to
  • more than satisfactory
  • much appreciate your contributions
  • performance has always been
  • since you joined the company in
  • skills are quite remarkable
  • work record in the past has been
  • your invaluable expertise in
  • your willingness to adapt to
  • your contributions to the firm have
2 Discuss the employee's weakness frankly, calling attention to the most recent incident that makes this letter necessary. Keep the focus on the employee's behavior.

Sample Sentences for Step 2

  • However, I have noticed that you are seldom available after 4:00 p.m. when the staff is preparing documents for the following day. It was particularly distressing when the president needed your report for the board meeting yesterday, but you were nowhere to be found.
  • However, it appears from customer complaints that you are purposely inflating the amount of carpet needed to do residential jobs. Of course this practice increases the customer's cost and your commission, but it is unethical and it damages our reputation. Most recently Mr. Doe documented that your calculation for his home was 20% more than necessary. We are refunding him that amount.
  • Unfortunately, I have received more complaints from the school board about the way you have treated young women in your biology class.
  • Security has informed me that you have been sharing confidential information with friends who are employed by a competitor.
  • I am sorry to hear that you have been drinking on the job again. This last episode became apparent when you were called in for an impromptu interview last Wednesday.
  • Customers have recently complained about your badgering them to get a sale. They have complained that you have been overbearing and even rude on occasion.
  • A group of students has raised objections to the way you presented Shakespeare's Othello. They feel that your comments have encouraged racial prejudice.
  • You continue to be late to work. According to your time card, you have arrived at least 15 minutes late every day for the past six weeks.
  • Three days ago I reviewed your expense report and found several discrepancies that amount to almost $1,000. I have included a photocopy of the report with this letter and have highlighted the areas in question.
  • After an extensive investigation, we have determined that the recent break-in was a result of your not being at your station. We have watched the security tapes and have found that between 10:42 p.m. and 11:12 p.m. you were absent from your station. The break-in occurred during that time.

Key Phrases for Step 2

  • adversarial attitude towards
  • am sorry to hear that
  • are concerned that
  • are being paid to perform a service
  • are seldom available to
  • attendance record is unacceptable
  • becoming a safety hazard
  • company will pay a heavy price for
  • consistent decrease in your
  • continue to have trouble with
  • damaging to our reputation
  • drinking on the job
  • failure to prepare
  • failure to prepare reports
  • failure to plan
  • found several discrepancies in
  • has raised objections to
  • have complained that you
  • have been careless about
  • have determined that
  • have reported that
  • have received further complaints about
  • indiscretions have become serious
  • leaking confidential information
  • may seem harmless to you, but
  • pattern seems to be repeating itself
  • practice is unethical
  • remiss about preparation of
  • serious problems with your performance
  • sets a bad example for
  • this has resulted in
  • this performance is unacceptable
  • too serious to pass off
  • uncooperative attitude towards
  • were distressed to discover
  • work is substandard in the following areas
  • your absence from
  • your persistent tardiness
3 Review the last discussion that you had with the employee about the problem (This review is your documentation that the employee was given adequate warning).

Sample Sentences for Step 3

  • As you know, we discussed this problem twice before, on July 5 and July 20. You indicated then that there were occasions when you had to pick up your child from school early, but this would only happen once or twice a month. You agreed that you would notify me each time you needed to leave so we could accommodate you.
  • When you joined our company, I stressed our commitment to fairness and honesty. I reiterated this principle two weeks ago when Jane Doe accused you of this same tactic. At that time you said you would treat each customer fairly and accurately.
  • You will remember that we spoke about a similar complaint last semester, and you assured me that it would never happen again.
  • As you know, you have signed a binding agreement in which you gave your word that you would keep all aspects of our operation confidential.
  • As you know from our two other meetings, I have tried to be understanding and tolerant of your problems.

Key Phrases for Step 3

  • accepted your statement that
  • agreed that in the future you would
  • agreed to notify me if
  • as we discussed previously on
  • as we discussed in our meeting on
  • assured me it would not happen again
  • cannot tolerate this situation
  • contrary to our agreement
  • discussed this thoroughly in my office
  • do sympathize with your situation, but
  • gave your word that
  • have discussed this problem before, on
  • indicated that
  • need to understand that
  • said you would correct the situation
  • signed an agreement that
  • spoke about a similar complaint
  • stressed our commitment to
  • this is a serious violation of
  • tried to be understanding
  • when you joined the company
4 Explain clearly what corrective action the employee must take, and what the consequences will be if his or her performance does not meet this expectation.

Sample Sentences for Step 4

  • Contrary to our agreement, you have been absent after 4:00 p.m. every day for the past week without an explanation. We simply cannot tolerate your absence at that time. If you cannot maintain the same hours as the rest of the staff in the immediate weeks to come, you will no longer have employment with Doe Associates.
  • I regret that I must place you on probation, pending further investigation by the Board. I hope these claims are groundless, and that you can continue at Doe High. If the claims are true, you need to understand that a recurrence of this behavior will result in termination.
  • Normally, this behavior would result in immediate dismissal and possible legal action; however, John Doe feels that I should give you a single warning, after which any further infraction would result in these actions.
  • You understand, of course, that we cannot tolerate this behavior in our plant. Unless you sign up for the company's alcohol rehabilitation program next week, and remain free from alcohol from this point on, we will ask you to submit your resignation.
  • I will not tolerate anyone damaging the reputation of honesty and fairness that we have built through the years. If I become aware of your making another sale that exceeds the actual amount of carpet needed, you will be dismissed.
  • If we receive another complaint about your addressing a student of the opposite sex inappropriately, we will hold a hearing for your dismissal. We have placed these complaint letters in your file.

Key Phrases for Step 4

  • any further infraction will result in
  • are giving you this warning
  • cannot tolerate your
  • eliminate these flaws in your performance
  • has counseled you previously about
  • have to inform you that
  • if we do not see immediate improvement
  • if this happens again
  • if you cannot maintain the same
  • is your second warning
  • issue a formal reprimand
  • must improve your performance in this area
  • must place you on probation
  • pending further investigation
  • performance needs to show substantial improvement
  • recurrence of this behavior
  • request your resignation
  • situation has become intolerable
  • situation needs your immediate attention
  • submit your resignation
  • terminate your employment
  • unless you commit to
  • unless you seek professional help
  • will have to send you a formal warning
  • will have to find other employment
  • will not tolerate anyone damaging
  • will be placing your job in jeopardy
  • will asked you to
  • with great reluctance
  • would accept
  • would normally result in immediate dismissal
5 Close with an expression of encouragement.

Sample Sentences for Step 5

  • I trust that you will be able to meet this expectation. Please inform me immediately if this is not the case.
  • I believe you understand the serious nature of this practice. I would hate to lose a good salesperson.
  • I know of your desire to make a significant contribution. Let's not allow this problem be a stumbling block to your success.
  • Your excellent contributions cannot be overlooked, and I trust that you will not repeat this indiscretion.
  • I know you can overcome this problem, but experience has shown that you will need our help. We trust you will accept it before it is too late.
  • Should there be extenuating circumstances, please let me know. I am sure we can work things out.

Key Phrases for Step 5

  • able to meet this expectation
  • can yet enjoy a satisfying career with us
  • can overcome this problem
  • expect that we will see significant improvement
  • get rid of this stumbling block
  • have many significant contributions to make
  • have made many positive contributions
  • if there is anything I need to know
  • if there is further information
  • no wish to intimidate you
  • please inform me immediately
  • trust that this indiscretion will not recur
  • trust that all this can be worked out
  • trust that you will
  • trust that you will accept our help
  • trust the problem can be eliminated
  • understand the serious nature of
  • value you as an employee
  • willing to help you to
  • would hate to lose you