One of the most frequent questions I receive from clients concerns how to “write up” an employee for a disciplinary violation. Written warnings are so important if there is ever a dispute about unemployment or discrimination. It is very difficult to defend your business on the basis of an employee’s poor performance or violation of the rules if you don’t have anything in writing to support your defense.
Written warnings also serve as a clear reminder to the employee that his/her behavior is unacceptable and outlines the necessary steps to improvement. Many employees won’t take your verbal corrections very seriously, but almost all employees pay attention when they receive a written warning.
So I’m providing you with a simple written warning form that you can use in your business. Just copy this form and add your own company’s name. Other than that, I suggest that you don’t modify this form very much, since all of the parts are important. Most crucial is the language at the bottom telling the employee that further violations may result in termination. The Texas Workforce Commission will not rule in the employer’s favor in an unemployment compensation dispute if it isn’t clear that the employee was specifically informed that continuation of his behavior could result in his job termination.
Always give your employees an opportunity to comment and sign the written warning form. It is better for you to know now if there were any extenuating circumstances. And if the employee doesn’t write anything, he’ll have difficulty disputing the facts outlined in it later, possibly in front of a jury.
If the employee won’t sign the form, just write in big letters on the form: “EMPLOYEE REFUSED TO SIGN.” He’ll just look surly and will still have to conform with the improvement plan you outlined.
Written Disciplinary Warning
 Verbal Warning
 Written Warning
 Suspension without Pay
4. Summary of corrective action to be taken: (Include timeline for improvement and plans for follow-up.)
Employee is warned that any further violations of company policy, safety rules, company practices or unsatisfactory performance will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.