What Is A Letter of Reprimand?

A letter of reprimand is a letter given to a person by a superior or any authority in response to an infraction or violation of a company policy.  It is most commonly used by an organization to instill discipline and maintain control of a situation.   

According to Business News Daily, there are three main types of disciplinary action. These are progressive discipline, retraining and performance improvement plans, and reassignment or suspension.

Components of A Reprimand Letter

A typical reprimand letter is composed of several parts. These parts are needed in order to establish a logical flow that is direct to the point and easy to understand; especially for the person at the receiving end of the letter. 

Addressee: An employee with repeated offenses will need to come to terms with his actions. A formal letter needs to include the complete name and designation of the person. A date and subject line is often also included. Incident: As in introduction, you need to recall the incident and state the significant facts. Be specific with dates, events and accurate witness statements. Ensure it is written in an objective manner. Avoid speculating or injecting any personal opinion into your letter. Accurate details are important because the last thing you want is realizing the incident did not contain truthful elements. Violation: Explicitly cite the law that was broken. Companies typically have employee handbooks, an employee Magna Carta, or a code of conduct. Be clear and specific when citing the infraction. You can indicate in bold letters the rule as it is stated in the code of conduct. It’s crucial to support your letter with this because it makes the employee aware of what company rule he violated. Consequences: Once you provide enough background on the incident, explain in detail the impact the infraction had on the workplace and on the team. The person needs to be reminded that his action caused certain unfavorable consequences. He should be able to see the damage that was done to his team members or colleagues. Final Reminder and Warning: If a verbal reprimand did not suffice, or an initial warning was not heeded by the employee; explain in the letter that another similar incident might have serious ramifications. Some managers and department heads threaten by citing indefinite suspension or termination of employment. An authoritative tone is needed but the letter should still be expressed in an objective and respectful way.

How to Write A Letter Of Reprimand

Many reprimand letters follow a certain format. It is important to balance firm discipline with genuine concern. Follow these steps to create a constructive letter of reprimand:   

Step 1: Include the Date and Subject

Since it is a formal document that will be part of employee records, a date is needed. Address the recipient professionally and include a subject line. Maintain the format as you would an official letter. 

Step 2: State the Incident 

Explain the reason why the employee incurred a reprimand letter. You could state that the letter was required because a verbal warning was not observed. Expound on the grounds for discipline and support your letter with accurate facts of the incident

Step 3: Provide the Right Space 

Despite the offense, it is important to still uphold the dignity of the person. Remind the employee of his right to take it up with either Human Resources or any person involved; in case he wishes to clear the matter. You could suggest a scheduled meeting or a counseling session. It’s vital the person is given an opportunity to defend himself and his actions; especially if this allows him or her the chance to resolve the issue.      

Step 4: End On A Sober Note

End your reprimand letter with closing words such as regretfully, respectfully, or sincerely. Avoid casual words like yours or best regards. Your conclusion should match the tone of the letter. Be firm yet respectful at the same time. 


How bad is a letter of reprimand?

It depends on the severity of the offense. Most minor infractions incur either a verbal or an initial written warning. Many company policies resort to reprimand letters when the employee has still not corrected his or her behavior. A letter of reprimand can sometimes lead to outright dismissal, if the person does not take take it seriously.

What is a written reprimand?

A written reprimand is a an official letter given to an employee who has consistently violated company policy. A written reprimand normally follows a series of prior warnings, both verbal and written.

Is a letter of reprimand considered discipline?

Yes. It is a form of disciplinary action sanctioned by an organization and handed to an employee for various minor and major offenses.

To be human is to err. Many companies find themselves having to deal with the occasional chronic absenteeism or tardiness among their ranks. Consistent poor performance, insubordination and grave misconduct are usually signs of a much deeper issue with the person; and is not resolved overnight by a reprimand letter. Other more serious offenses like harassment and breach of trust and security demand even greater attention and disciplinary action. Browse any of the templates above and create a reprimand letter like a pro!