Written Warning for Attendance + Templates

Written Warning for Attendance + Templates

Addressing attendance issues in the workplace isn’t just about keeping records straight—it’s about fostering a culture of responsibility and reliability.

A well-crafted written warning for attendance acts as a pivotal communication bridge, alerting employees to the seriousness of their absenteeism or tardiness while also paving the way for positive change.

This isn’t just paperwork; it’s a proactive step towards maintaining harmony and productivity within your team.

Through this guide, we dive into the strategic elements of drafting an effective warning letter, supplemented by user-friendly templates.

What Is the Purpose of a Written Warning

A written warning for attendance in the workplace serves several key purposes. It acts as a formal notice to an employee that their absenteeism or tardiness has been noticed and is not acceptable.

Learn More: Absenteeism Policy: Strategies for Improved Workplace Attendance

This document is part of the disciplinary process, aiming to correct attendance issues before they escalate. Here are the main objectives of issuing a written document for attendance:

1. Documentation

It provides a documented record of attendance issues, which can be referenced in future disciplinary actions if necessary. This documentation is crucial for maintaining a fair and legal basis for any potential employment decisions, including termination.

2. Awareness

It alerts the worker to the seriousness of their attendance issues. Sometimes, a team member may not realize the impact of their absenteeism on their work or the team. A written warning makes the problem explicit and underscores the employer’s expectations.

Lean More: How to Develop an Employee Attendance Policy. Free Policy Template

3. Opportunity for improvement

By outlining specific attendance issues and suggesting ways to improve, the warning gives workers a clear path to correcting their behavior. It often includes a timeframe within which the employee needs to show improvement.

4. Legal protection

Should the employment relationship deteriorate further, leading to termination or legal disputes, the written warning serves as evidence that the employer took steps to inform the employee of the issue and gave them a chance to improve.

5. Consistency

It ensures a consistent approach to handling attendance issues within the organization. This helps in treating all team members fairly and equally, regardless of their roles or seniority.

6. Communication

It opens a line of communication between the worker and management. This can help in identifying any underlying issues contributing to the poor attendance, such as health problems or workplace dissatisfaction, and finding ways to address them.

Overall, a written warning for attendance is a crucial tool in workplace management, aimed at addressing issues proactively and maintaining a productive, reliable workforce.

What to Include in an Employee Warning Letter? 

When drafting the letter, it’s essential to include specific elements to ensure clarity, fairness, and legal compliance. Here’s a detailed guide on what to include, along with examples for each section:

Employee’s name, position, and department

Begin the letter by addressing the employee directly, including their full name, job title, and department. This personalizes the message and ensures there’s no confusion about whom the document is for.

Example: “This letter is addressed to Jane Doe, Senior Graphic Designer in the Marketing Department.”

Date of issuance

Include the date the letter is written or issued. This is important for documentation and to establish a timeline for any follow-up actions.

Example: “Date of issuance: September 15, 2024.”


Briefly explain the purpose of the letter

Start with a clear statement that the document is a formal letter regarding specific issues.

Example: “The purpose of this letter is to formally address concerns regarding your recent attendance record.”

Clearly state that it is a warning and not a termination

It’s crucial to differentiate between a warning and more severe disciplinary actions like termination.

Example: “Please understand that this is a warning designed to help you correct your behavior and is not an indication of immediate termination.”

Description of incident(s)

Detail the specific behavior or incident(s) that have led to the warning. Be as clear and factual as possible.

Example: “On September 1st and September 8th, you were absent without prior notification, and on September 5th, you arrived more than 30 minutes late without a satisfactory explanation.”

Reference to company policies

Link the behavior to specific company policies or guidelines that have been violated. This emphasizes the legitimacy of the warning.

Example: “As per the Employee Handbook (Section 4.2 – Attendance Requirements), all employees are expected to adhere to their scheduled work hours unless prior arrangements are made.”

Consequences and future actions

Outline the potential consequences if the behavior does not change and any immediate actions the employee needs to take.

Example: “Continued failure to meet attendance requirements may result in further disciplinary actions, up to and including termination.”

Timeline for improvement

Specify a clear timeline for when improvements need to be made, providing a tangible goal. 

Example: “We expect to see significant improvement in your attendance within the next 30 days.”

Employee acknowledgment

Include a section for the employee to acknowledge receipt and understanding of the warning

This section is for the worker to sign, indicating they have received and understand the document. It’s a critical part of the documentation process.

Support and resources

Available support systems or resources to help the employee improve

Inform the employee of any support systems or resources, such as counseling services or training programs, available to help them improve.

Example: “The company offers access to a professional development program to assist you in improving your time management skills.”

Contact information for further discussion

Provide the name and contact information of a specific person (e.g., HR representative or supervisor) whom the employee can contact if they have questions or need further clarification.

Example: “Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this further, please contact John Smith, HR Manager, at john.smith@company.com or 555-1234.”

4 Best Practices When Writing an Employee Warning Letter

When it comes to managing staff behavior and performance issues, writing an effective warning letter is a critical step. This document not only communicates your concerns but also sets the stage for potential improvement or, in some cases, further disciplinary action.

To ensure your letter is effective, consider these four best practices:

Clarity and specificity

One of the key elements of an effective letter is clarity. The letter should clearly describe the behavior or performance issue, providing specific examples to illustrate the problem

Avoid vague language that might confuse the employee about the reason for the warning.

For instance, if the issue is tardiness, specify the dates and times the employee was late and how this behavior breaches the company’s attendance policy.

This approach leaves no room for misunderstanding and sets a clear expectation for what needs to change.

Professional and respectful tone

Maintaining a professional and respectful tone throughout the letter is crucial.

While it’s important to address the seriousness of the issue, the language used should not be accusatory or demeaning.

The goal is to encourage the employee to improve, not to demoralize them.

Use a tone that reflects concern for the employee’s well-being and the company’s standards. A respectful approach can foster a more positive response and willingness to change, as opposed to a hostile or confrontational tone.

Adherence to company policies and legal requirements

Ensure that the letter aligns with your company’s established policies and procedures, as well as any relevant legal requirements.

This includes referencing specific sections of the employee handbook or company policy documents that relate to the issue at hand.

It’s also important to ensure that the disciplinary action being taken is consistent with how similar situations have been handled in the past to avoid claims of unfair treatment.

Additionally, being aware of and compliant with employment laws can protect the company from potential legal challenges.

Constructive feedback and guidance for improvement

An effective letter should not only highlight the problem but also provide constructive feedback and clear guidance on how the employee can improve.

Offer specific, actionable steps the employee can take to address the issue.

For example, if the warning is for poor performance on a project, suggest training courses or offer the assistance of a mentor.

Set a timeframe for when improvements should be made and outline the consequences of failing to meet these expectations. This approach demonstrates the company’s commitment to their team’s growth and success, rather than just penalizing them for their shortcomings.

Incorporating these best practices when writing a warning letter can lead to a more effective dialogue about performance or behavior issues. It not only helps in addressing the immediate problem but also contributes to a culture of transparency, fairness, and support for personal development within the organization.

Warning Letter Templates

Below are two sample warning letter templates: the first one is for the initial disciplinary notice, and the second one is meant for a final written warning. These templates incorporate the best practices mentioned earlier, including clarity, professionalism, adherence to policies, and constructive feedback.

Sample 1: First written warning

[Company Letterhead]


[Employee’s Name]

[Employee’s Position]


Dear [Employee’s Name],

This letter serves as a formal written warning regarding your recent performance/behavior concerning [specific issue, e.g., tardiness]. As documented, there have been multiple instances where your actions have not met the company’s expectations, specifically on [dates], when [describe the behavior or performance issue in detail].

According to the company’s Employee Handbook (Section [reference specific section]), [describe the relevant policy the employee violated]. It is crucial for the efficiency of our team and the success of our company that all employees adhere to these guidelines.

We value your contributions to the team and believe in your potential to improve. To address these issues, we recommend [specific actionable steps the employee can take to improve, e.g., attending time management training, working with a mentor]. We expect to see significant improvement in [specific area] within the next [timeframe].

Failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement may result in further disciplinary actions, up to and including termination. We trust that you will take this warning seriously and make the necessary changes.

Please sign and date this letter as acknowledgment of receipt and understanding. A copy will be placed in your personnel file. Should you have any questions or need further clarification, do not hesitate to contact [specific contact person, e.g., your supervisor or HR representative] at [contact information].


[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Company Name]

Employee acknowledgment:

I, [Employee’s Name], acknowledge receipt and understanding of this warning. I understand the expectations set forth and commit to making the necessary improvements.

Signature: ___________________ Date: _______________

Sample 2: Final written warning

[Company Letterhead]


[Employee’s Name]

[Employee’s Position]


Dear [Employee’s Name],

This letter is a final written warning regarding your continued issues with [specific issue, e.g., attendance]. Despite previous warnings, including a written notice on [date of previous warning], there has not been a satisfactory improvement in [specific behavior or performance issue]. For example, on [dates], [describe the continuing issue in detail].

As previously discussed and outlined in our Employee Handbook (Section [reference specific section]), it is expected that all employees [describe the expected behavior or performance standard]. The ongoing nature of this issue is impacting the team and our company’s operations negatively.

This is your final warning. We need to see immediate and consistent improvement in [specific area] by [specific date]. Failure to meet these expectations will result in further disciplinary actions, up to and including termination of employment.

We are committed to supporting our employees and are willing to provide [specific support resources or assistance, e.g., access to counseling services, additional training]. Please take advantage of these resources to assist in your improvement.

Please acknowledge receipt and understanding of this letter by signing below. We hope for your cooperation and commitment to resolving these issues. For any questions or if you require further clarification, please contact [specific contact person] at [contact information].


[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Company Name]

Employee acknowledgment:

I, [Employee’s Name], acknowledge receipt and understanding of this final warning. I understand the seriousness of this matter and commit to making the necessary improvements.

Signature: ___________________ Date: _______________

Follow Up After Sending a Warning Letter

It’s critical to take proper follow-up measures that will provide support to the employee in question after sending a letter for frequent absenteeism. The way forward is a deliberate combination of support and accountability to deal with the root causes of their absences.

Setting up a private conversation with the worker to candidly address their attendance issues is a crucial first step. This discussion should include any plausible explanations for their absences, such as personal struggles, work-related stress, or other issues. This presents an opportunity to think about helpful modifications or flexible work schedules, such as different scheduling options or remote work choices. This discussion can also clear up any confusion over the letter and reaffirm how crucial their presence at work is to the team and the organization as a whole.

Offering specific recommendations is essential for raising attendance. This could include establishing temporary attendance targets, putting the worker in touch with counseling resources, or signing them up for wellness initiatives. These materials can provide the assistance required to encourage a constructive modification in their attendance habits.

But it’s equally critical to discuss the repercussions of not raising attendance after being warned. If absence continues to interfere with operations, further disciplinary measures, including termination, can be taken into consideration.

The main objective is to address the underlying reasons behind low attendance by establishing a welcoming workplace that places a high value on the involvement and well-being of staff members. Creating a culture of transparency and accountability, providing resources for stress management and mental health, and implementing flexible work practices are all tactics that can help achieve this objective.

Wrapping Up

A written notice for attendance issues serves as a critical tool in workplace management, aimed at addressing and correcting problematic behavior. It formally notifies the worker of their attendance issues, documents these concerns, and outlines the expectations for improvement, all while providing a legal and fair basis for future actions if necessary.

Effective letters are clear, professional, adhere to company policies, and offer constructive feedback to help team members improve.

By including essential elements such as specific incidents, policy references, and a clear path for improvement, these letters underscore the seriousness of the issue and the employer’s commitment to their workforce’s success. 


What information should be included in a written warning for attendance?

A written notice for attendance should be comprehensive and include the following key information to ensure clarity and effectiveness:

  • Employee details: Full name, position, and department of the worker.
  • Date of issuance: The date when the letter is issued.
  • Description of the issue: Specific details about the attendance issues, including dates of absences or tardiness, and how these incidents violate company policies.
  • Reference to company policies: Mention of the specific company attendance policies that have been violated, with reference to the employee handbook or company documents where these policies are outlined.
  • Impact of the issue: Explanation of how the attendance issues affect the team, department, or company operations.
  • Expected improvements: Clear expectations for what constitutes satisfactory attendance moving forward.
  • Timeline for improvement: A specific timeframe within which improvement is expected.
  • Consequences of non-improvement: Outline of potential further actions if attendance does not improve, up to and including termination.
  • Employee acknowledgment: A section for the worker to sign, acknowledging they have read and understand the document.
  • Support and resources: Information on any available resources or support systems to help your colleague improve their attendance.

What should an employee do after receiving a written warning?

After receiving a written disciplinary notice, a worker should take the following steps:

  • Reflect on the feedback: Take time to understand the issues highlighted in the warning. Reflect on your actions and how they have impacted your team or company.
  • Acknowledge receipt: Sign the acknowledgment section of the letter to confirm you have received and understood the contents.
  • Seek clarification: If any part of the document is unclear, request a meeting with your supervisor or HR representative to discuss the concerns and clarify expectations.
  • Develop an improvement plan: Create a personal action plan to address the issues. This may involve setting reminders, improving time management skills, or seeking support from colleagues or mentors.
  • Communicate your plan: Share your plan for improvement with your supervisor and ask for their feedback or suggestions.
  • Follow through: Implement your improvement plan and consistently work on meeting the expectations set forth in the notice.
  • Document your progress: Keep track of your progress and any steps you have taken to improve your attendance. This documentation can be useful in future discussions about your performance.

How long does a written warning for attendance stay on an employee’s record?

The duration a written disciplinary notice stays on an employee’s record can vary depending on the company’s policies. Generally, warnings may remain on the record for a period ranging from six months to several years.

Some companies have a “rolling” policy where the notice expires after a certain period of satisfactory behavior. It’s important for your team members to understand their company’s specific policies regarding the retention of written warnings.

This information is often found in the employee handbook or by consulting with the HR department. Staff can also inquire about the process for reviewing or appealing disciplinary letters and the conditions under which a notice might be removed from their record.

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