I had a call from a client last week asking about whether there was a good format to use for drafting a disciplinary letter to give to an employee. I advised her there was and suggested the following format:
- Start with an accurate statement of the facts including: what happened, when it happened, etc… Make sure it is factually based and does not include opinion or judgment. If a workplace policy or safety violation occurred, it should be referenced.
- Describe any previous problems or issues, and what happened as a result (if anything). Be specific about dates and consequences such as you were counseled about …, or you were reprimanded, or you were retrained on this same problem etc…
- Describe the impact the misconduct or performance problems have on the workplace. The impact could be financial, related to staffing, safety, disruption of work production etc… An example would be; “As a result of you being late to work, other employees needed to fill in for you until you arrived. This meant they were not able to complete their own work.”
- Clearly explain the expected behavior or performance that must be achieved to be successful.
- Finally, the conclusion should state what will happen if the employee does not improve or change their conduct. For example: “Future misconduct may result in further discipline, including termination from employment.”
A clearly drafted disciplinary letter helps to document an employee’s misconduct or performance deficiency and can help avoid future litigation claims. It also gives clear direction to the employee about what is expected in the future and the potential consequences for failing to make the identified changes.