What Are the Essential Elements of a Disciplinary Warning Form?

John Krautzel
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When employee discipline must be memorialized through a formal written warning, the disciplinary warning form must contain adequate background information, an accurate description of the problem, a clear explanation of the desired change, management's expressed commitment to support the change effort and a detail of the consequences for failing to meet the required goals. The purpose of this written warning is to improve behavior or performance to acceptable standards.

Self-discipline is critical to developing marketable skills and retaining employment, according to Nexxt. As the employer, you expect an employee's goal orientation and self-discipline to carry over into workplace behavior. If your worker falls short of expectations in job performance or other workplace behaviors, it may become necessary for your management team to invoke disciplinary measures to correct the employee's less-than-desirable behavior. Organizations typically formalize an escalating disciplinary process, progressing from verbal warnings through to dismissal. For legal reasons, it is critical that all steps in the process be documented in the employee's personnel record.

When employee discipline requires formal written warning of unacceptable behavior or poor work performance, the notification must contain certain elements, according to Multibriefs.com. First, include a background section that identifies any involved parties, along with the date of formal notice. Include the worker's hire date, history of prior discipline and current job status. Cite relevant company policies, contract clauses or bargaining unit agreement paragraphs.

Next, describe the situation that gave rise to this disciplinary action. Clearly state the reason by describing the problem, which can be in the form of a checklist or open-ended statement, along with the date, time and place of the occurrence, frequency, and relevant commentary by involved parties. Be certain to record the employee's response to the allegations.

Specify the required changes that need to be made for the employee to successfully emerge from disciplinary status. Make the goals specific and measurable, indicating what should happen by an exact date. Record the employee's response. Document the actions your management team will take to support the employee during this grace period.

Conclude the employee discipline warning form with a clear statement regarding the consequences of failure to comply. Be certain the worker is fully aware of the ramifications of future misbehavior or poor performance by citing the next-step implications. Clarify how future problem behavior in other performance areas will impact the consequences related to this disciplinary action.

Attach a copy of the specific company policy, contract clause or related document that is the basis for the discipline. If appeal rights have been discussed, include a statement memorializing the information you delivered. All parties should sign and date the written employee discipline warning form, including the employee, the involved supervisor, a human resources representative and, if appropriate, a union representative. The supervisor should advise the employee that signing merely acknowledges receipt of the warning form and does not mean the employee agrees with the discipline.

Employee discipline is designed to produce positive change in employee behavior or performance. Creating a standard employee discipline warning form containing all essential elements ensures that your management team administers discipline consistently for maximum effectiveness.


(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


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