What Is a Behavior Warning Letter?

A behavior warning letter is a type of letter issued to the employee by the employer or the management notifying the employee that they had violated a company policy. It is often called as a written warning, a letter of reprimand, a disciplinary form, and/or an employee warning notice. The behavior warning letter is a form of documentation to inform the employee that their action is unacceptable, and also states the consequences connected with the violation. The word violation is also called an offense.

The behavior warning letter is typically part of a company’s disciplinary action plan or process. Usually, when an employee commits an offense or a violation, the company issues first a verbal warning. A written warning follows next if the same offense is committed by the same employee. Then a final written warning follows if the employee repeated the same offense, and often followed by termination, if necessary.  Before any of these takes place, employees are typically informed upfront or were made aware during the hiring process what are the company’s policies, and all of these policies are usually found in the company’s or employee’s handbook.

A warning letter is usually seen as a negative thing. It’s not something any employee looks forward to receiving. That may be the case, but the warning letter should be treated as significant since it is, after all, an important documentation that could protect both the rights of the employer and the employee as well. The letter signifies that a due, diligent investigative process has taken place to make sure that both the employee and the employer are protected and are treated fairly.  It puts into context the fairness in the disciplinary process.

What Constitutes a Behavior Warning Letter?

The behavior warning letter comprises several different parts, making a timeline chart of the offense committed. The overall purpose of the behavior warning letter is to explain what has been violated and what are the corresponding consequences.  Here are the following items that are usually found in the warning letter:

Work Profile of the Employee: This includes the basic details about the employee, such as name, title or position, employee number, contact information, and all other basic information or data related to the employee’s work profile. It can also include the name of the next level supervisor, and the name of the human resource manager who will be dealing with the violation. Violation or Offense Committed: This indicates what was the violated company policy, what behavior of the employee was unacceptable, or the guidelines that the employee was not able to follow. It could also quote the source of the policy, such as the company’s handbook.Affected Parties: Who are the persons affected by the employee’s violation? Is it only the company itself, or are there other affected employees as well? Or was there a customer affected by the employee’s action? All names of the involved parties in the disciplinary process should be reflected on the letter.Disciplinary Action: All actions have corresponding consequences. A disciplinary action is a corrective measure or a reprimand in relation to the employee’s misconduct, poor performance, or rule violation. In this case, the behavior warning letter should also contain the action plan for the violation committed by the employee. It indicates what are the penalties that have to be meted out to the employee as a consequence.Employee’s Response: The behavior warning letter should also provide an opportunity for the employee to respond. A timeline is usually allotted to the employee in making a response. It can either be in the form of a letter, or a meeting between the employee, the manager, or the affected parties.

How to Create a Behavior Warning Letter?

The next thing an employer needs to do after exhausting the verbal warning process, and yet again the employee repeated the offense, is to make a behavior warning letter. How do you write one up? Rule of thumb is to make a letter that is concise and straightforward. Don’t use long sentences. Go straight to the point. The explanation should be clear on what was the employee’s wrongful conduct or behavior, and what are the corresponding disciplinary actions.  

We have lots of different misconduct warning letter templates on how to write a warning letter available on our website. It is easily customizable and very much easy to follow through. If you want to know more what are the steps how to make a behavior warning letter, read on:

Step 1: Make a Timeline of the Warning

Create a timeline of the offense committed. First, write down the date of the behavior warning letter. Then indicate when the verbal warning was given. This timeline adds credibility to your behavior warning letter.

Step 2: List the Names of the Parties Involved

Mention the names of parties involved in the disciplinary process. You have the name of the employee who this letter is addressed to, the name of the aggrieved employee, the company, or the name of a customer affected by the employee’s action.

Step 3: Provide the Details of the Incident

Transparency is important in any process. In this section, write down in detail the incident that took place and the reason why this incident was considered a violation. Quote the company policy that was violated. Quoting the violated company policy adds credibility to your letter. It also helps to avoid making baseless claims. Be brief and clear and direct to the point. Maintain a professional tone all throughout in giving out the details.

Step 4: Indicate the Company’s Corresponding Corrective Measure

The employee whose behavior warning letter is addressed should be made aware of the consequences and actions that will be taken as a punishment for the unacceptable conduct or behavior. List down the appropriate measure the company will be taking related to the employee’s violation.  Describe the impact of the violation to the company or the other employees.

Write down the date when was the verbal warning given in relation to the violation so that it can be justified why the employee will be receiving warning letter.  It should also include a sample brief statement what further disciplinary actions will be taken if the same violation is repeated. In the same note, allow the employee to respond to the letter by giving a time period for the response. It could either be agreed upon as a form of a letter or a meeting with the employer or with the manager. You could also offer solutions, how the employee can improve their situation or make amendments.

Step 5: Include the Signatories

Always include a space for signatories. After you have delivered the warning letter, you need to get a confirmation or an acknowledgment that the employee has received the letter. Allot a space below the letter where the employee can sign. If you send the letter through email, always ask for a confirmation that the employee has seen and received the email.


Is it a serious matter when you receive a behavior warning letter?

All kinds of warnings should be taken seriously and should not be easily dismissed. Think of it as a step towards the termination process. But, of course, termination is preventable as long as the employee shows signs of improvement and tries not to do the same act of violation again.

How do you respond when you’re an employee and you receive a behavior warning letter?

Remain calm. Remember that all kinds of process, even that of a disciplinary action, would always go through due process that includes an investigation and a chance for you to respond. You can always ask for some legal advice from a lawyer on how to go about answering the behavior warning letter. Or if you’re asked to respond verbally in a committee hearing or a meeting with the managers, you can ask for a lawyer to accompany you to such a meeting to make sure that someone will guide you on how to respond.

What types of offenses usually merit a behavior warning letter?

These offenses include: acts of violence or threats against another employee or the company itself; assault or sexual harassment within the workplace; intentional misconduct; dress code violation; insubordination; excessive absences or tardiness; poor quality performance; fraud, misappropriation of funds, and/or theft; and discrimination against gender or race.

What comes next after receiving a behavior warning letter?

The employee is given a certain time period to respond to the behavior warning letter, or is given a chance to make some amendments. If the same offense is committed again, the offense will then be considered as a serious offense, and the employee can be suspended while further investigation is being made.

What are the other names of a behavioral warning letter?

The behavioral warning letter is also called a written warning, reprimand letter, disciplinary form, and/or an employee warning notice.

A behavior warning letter should serve as a wake-up call to the employee. It should be written in a way as a reprimand that explains why the employee’s actions are wrong or unacceptable despite previous verbal warnings. Reprimanding an employee is never easy, and one of the dilemmas being faced by an employer is how to write a warning letter.  Also, there’s that cloud of worry hovering above, just thinking about how the employee will react to the warning letter.

 The solution to this case? Firm up. Create that perfectly outlined behavior warning letter that leaves out no details in the disciplinary process. How to write up your employee should not be difficult with the help of our templates ready for download. You can use any of our existing warning letters as a guide to create your behavior warning letter. Head over to our website, and see how easy and convenient it is to create one!