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How to Implement Proper Guidelines for Employee Warning Letters

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All employers will have to discipline an employee at some point in their professional career. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of running a business, largely because underperformance, employee time theft, and unexcused absences cost employers millions of dollars a year. Therefore, it’s important to know how to address an issue as soon as possible. With Time & Attendance Software, managing points and incidents has never been easier. You can easily monitor employee hours, encourage proper attendance habits, and see who has incurred infractions.

And while these are all great benefits of time and attendance software, how do you fairly and impartially warn an employee of multiple points of incident? Let’s breakdown when it’s appropriate to issue a warning letter and how it should be written and delivered.

When is it necessary to write an employee warning letter?

Employee warnings and infractions are handled differently depending on the company. A banking institution will have different quarterly goals and office policies than a Silicon Valley start-up. Regardless of the company culture, however, every professional business should have a warning system in place to deal with problematic employees.

Ideally, the first warning should come verbally from a supervisor or HR professional. A verbal warning clearly illustrates that expectations are not being met and management is at a contentious point. Hopefully your organization has quarterly evaluations, a clear company policy, and performance reviews to lay out expectations. Clear expectations can greatly mitigate the need for disciplinary action. If talking to the employee doesn’t change their attitude or practices, a warning letter, and ultimately a termination sequence, is in order. However, if the incident or recurring pattern is severe enough or the employee has done something seriously unprofessionally, it’s normal to jump straight to a warning letter. Just be sure that disciplinary actions align with the level of misconduct.

See how Dominion’s Points and Incidents feature can help you easily monitor attendance patterns and infractions for your hourly employees!

How do I know if a warning letter is justified?

Before a warning letter is sent out make sure it’s justified. Have a set checklist in place and consult it before sitting down with an HR representative. For example, contemplate the following:

  • Speak to the employee privately and ensure there is no misunderstanding regarding the incident or set of work practices. You may be able to clear the issue up with a short conversation.

  • Before issuing any type of warning make sure you understand the incident fully. Where did it happen, when, and why?

  • All disciplinary rules should be applied equally to everyone in the company. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case, but it should be something to strive for.

Once you’ve determined it’s warranted to send out a warning letter, it’s time to write out the template.

How should a warning letter be written and delivered to employees?

If you’ve answered the above questions and are ready to write a warning letter, sit down with an HR professional. HR professionals should be consulted because they know the laws and rights related to the employee receiving the warning letter.

  • Clearly state the problem and reason for the warning letter. Be specific and provide dates, times, and witnesses if applicable. A points & incidents software feature will clearly show late start times, early departures, and unexcused absences.

  • Next, state what the employee needs to do to remedy the situation and how long they have to make the change. Furthermore, state the company’s policy about what will happen if the employee fails to make adequate changes in their work patterns.

  • If the employee can appeal the action or practice being discussed, provide clear instructions on how to do so.

  • Finally, require the employee’s signature on the warning letter to recognize their understanding of what has taken place. If they refuse to sign it, try and have a supervisor in their presence once the letter is delivered.

While uncomfortable, a concise, detail-oriented warning letter will make the process as smooth as possible. In addition to specific company policy, it doesn't hurt to foster a workplace environment focused around strong discipline and profitable habits. If you're uncertain on where to start, this article has a few great pointers from industry professionals. 

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A points and incidents software will allow you to automatically send out the warning letter along with the evidence surrounding the infraction. Once you have a template in place, simply edit the fields applicable to the employee and the point of contention, and send out the letter.

Dominion Systems offers a user-friendly points and incidents software feature within our Time & Attendance Software. Click below to request a demo, and sign up to be included in our webinar detailing how the feature can be used!


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