The Employee Write-Up Form: Your One-Stop Downloadable Form and Guide

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The Employee Write-Up Form: Your One-Stop Downloadable Form and Guide

Employee write-ups are written warnings that usually follow other forms of disciplinary action that have not resulted in the improvement of an employee’s conduct or performance. They are included in an employee’s permanent record and can be used to determine future promotions or even terminations. 

An employee write-up form template can be a useful tool for HR professionals to support the process fairly and equitably in their organizations. 

We’ve created an easy-to-use employee write-up form template in PDF or Word, that can be customized according to your HR needs.

What is an employee write-up? 
The importance of an employee write-up template
When to conduct an employee write-up (and when to not to)
Disciplinary action vs. employee write-up 
What should be included in an effective employee write-up form? 
How to complete an employee write-up form
Example of an employee write-up
Best practices for using employee write-up forms
Checklist: Next steps after an employee write-up

What is an employee write-up? 

An employee write-up is a formal documentation regarding an employee breaking a rule. It is typically considered the final action before termination and is extremely serious. To officially complete an employee write-up, a manager fills out a standard form that describes the employee’s misconduct, including which policies the employee broke and what the employee needs to do to improve. The write-up is recorded in the person’s file and becomes part of their permanent work record.

As an HR professional, you play a significant role in the employee write-up process, as HR is responsible for ensuring that a company’s policies and procedures are followed consistently and fairly. HR is responsible for reviewing the write-up to confirm it is justified, consistent with company policy, and compliant with applicable laws.

You may also offer suggestions for improvement or provide guidance on the appropriate disciplinary action. If an employee disputes a write-up or the disciplinary action taken, it may become your responsibility to mediate the situation, investigate the issue, and ensure a fair resolution.

The importance of an employee write-up

As an HR professional, dealing with employee misconduct is most likely not your favorite part of the job. Unfortunately, however, overseeing disciplinary measures is an important HR role, particularly when it comes to ensuring that all processes are followed fairly and equitably. 

Write-ups typically serve as a final attempt to resolve the most serious issues arising from employee behavior. Navigating the intricacies of this procedure, particularly when it comes to dealing with potential employee objections, can be challenging.

HR’s role in accurate record-keeping

Importantly, HR is responsible for maintaining employee personnel files, which include documentation of disciplinary actions, such as write-ups. This record-keeping helps track behavior patterns, supports future disciplinary actions if necessary, and provides legal documentation in case of disputes or litigation.

It’s not only critical to ensure that employee write-ups are in compliance with relevant labor laws and regulations, minimizing the risk of legal issues or claims of unfair treatment, but that this is well-documented in case of issues down the line. 

As an HR professional, keeping accurate records means you can:

  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your organization’s disciplinary processes 
  • Ensure all employees are treated consistently and fairly
  • Help managers maintain a standard approach to handling similar situations
  • Avoid claims of bias or favoritism.
Employee Write-Up Form Template

When to conduct an employee write-up (and when to not to)

An employee write-up will usually come after one or more verbal warnings have been issued or if informal coaching has not led to an improvement in performance. 

It is an official and permanent record that lists what an employee has done wrong, outlines the importance of remedying the issue, and explains what comes next. As an HR professional, you may recommend a formal employee write-up in a number of circumstances:

  • If an employee violates company policies or regulations
  • If their behavior or performance falls below acceptable standards
  • If their actions harm or endanger others in the workplace
  • If they have misused company resources
  • If they have repeatedly disregarded instructions or refuse to follow established procedures
  • If they have engaged in misconduct, such as theft, harassment, or discrimination
  • If their behavior or actions negatively impact the company’s reputation or financial standing.

Critically, an employee write-up involves the creation of formal documentation that can be used as evidence for additional action, such as terminating employment if corrective action is not taken. If such a formal process is not required, it may be better to recommend a manager take a less serious form of action. This could include a verbal warning or an employee evaluation process to improve performance if that is the issue.

However, in more serious cases where managers have not been able to coach an employee or inspire them to improve their performance, an employee write-up could serve as a wake-up call that encourages an employee to take matters seriously. A well-written write-up should include expectations for improvement so that the employee clearly understands how to improve and keep their job.

HR checklist on when to conduct an employee write-up:

  1. Has the manager or supervisor consulted with HR?
  2. Is the action justified?
  3. Is it the appropriate next step in accordance with the company’s discipline process?
  4. Is it consistent with company policies?
  5. Is it compliant with relevant laws and regulations?
  6. Is there a recommended remediation action the employee can follow?

HR tip

The timing of an employee write-up should ideally be as close as possible to the incident or observed pattern of behavior. This ensures that the issue is fresh in both the employee’s and the manager’s minds, making the feedback more effective and meaningful.

Disciplinary action vs. employee write-up 

Employee write-up forms are sometimes called employee disciplinary action forms. However, disciplinary action is a broader process that refers to any measure an employer takes to correct or discipline an employee’s behavior or performance issues. An employee write-up is much more specific. 

Let’s look at the differences.

Disciplinary actionEmployee write-up
A broad term referring to multiple measures taken by an employer to correct or punish behavior.A specific type of disciplinary action used for documenting recurring issues or demonstrating a pattern of behavior that may lead to more severe disciplinary actions, such as suspension or termination.
Can include verbal warnings, written warnings, suspensions, demotions, or even termination.Is a formal, written document.
Follows a progressive discipline process, where the severity of the action increases with each subsequent incident.Details an employee’s misconduct or performance issue and the corrective action required.
May be formal or informal, and will not necessarily be documented until required.Includes a description of the issue, the specific policy or rule that was violated, the consequences of the employee’s actions, and the steps the employee needs to take to improve their behavior or performance.
Is used to help employees understand the consequences of their actions, improve their performance, and maintain a safe and productive work environment.Serves as a record of the incident and is placed in the employee’s personnel file.

What should be included in an effective employee write-up form? 

An effective employee write-up should be clear, concise, and well-structured, providing all necessary information to address the performance or behavior issue at hand. HR professionals can support the process by creating a form or template that outlines all the necessary elements a manager should cover in an employee write-up. This includes:

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  • Date of the incident: State the date that the incident occurred or was reported. It is essential that the write-up takes place as close to the incident date as possible.
  • Employee information: Include the employee’s name, job title, department, and a short summary of their responsibilities if it relates to the write-up.
  • Manager or supervisor information: The name and title of the person issuing the write-up.
  • Details of the incident: Clearly describe the incident, including what happened, when it happened, and who was involved. Stick to the facts.
  • Policy or rule violation: If applicable, reference the specific company policy or rule that the employee has violated. Explain the importance of adhering to these policies and the consequences of not doing so and reference the employee handbook where possible.
  • Previous warnings or discussions: Mention any previous verbal warnings, informal coaching, or discussions related to the issue, indicating that this write-up is a part of the progressive discipline process.
  • Consequences: Outline the consequences of the employee’s behavior, including any disciplinary action that will be taken.
  • Expected improvement: List expectations for improvement, including the desired behavior or performance goals and a timeline for achieving them.
  • Employee acknowledgment: Include a space for the employee to sign and date the write-up, indicating that they have read and understood the document. Allow the employee to provide written comments or feedback if they wish.
  • Manager or supervisor signature: The manager or supervisor issuing the write-up should also sign and date the document.
  • HR review and signature: Review, sign, and date the write-up to ensure compliance with company policies and legal requirements.
How To Complete an Employee Write-Up Form

How to complete an employee write-up form

An employee write-up should never be taken lightly. It is a serious matter that will permanently be on an employee’s record. It is for this reason that care should be taken when completing an employee write-up form, not only because it may be used in legal action or as grounds for termination down the line, but because it is vital that the employee clearly understands what is happening, why it is happening and what is expected of them.

Here are a few pointers you can share with managers or supervisors who have decided to issue a write-up. As the HR professional supporting the manager and the employee’s best interests, you can also use these recommendations to review the write-up before signing it.

1. Be clear and concise 

Language is important. An employee write-up should be factual, and subjective or emotional language should be avoided. It’s essential to use specific examples to describe the incident but keep things short and concise. Only include the necessary information and avoid making generalizations or assumptions.

2. Be calm

A manager working on a write-up document when they are angry not only exacerbates the issue but also leaves room for error and non-professionalism. Write-ups are meant to be objective documents. They go on employee records, can become evidence if the employee challenges a disciplinary decision and will be read and reviewed by others.

3. Consider company policies

There should be a solid reason for issuing an employee write-up. Use company policies to back up any claims, relating the issue to a specific policy. It’s also a good idea to cite the exact policy for future reference. If the employee signed your organization’s employee handbook stating that they read and agree to all policies, reference that as well.

4. Be specific

Include any witness statements or other evidence that supports the write-up, although ensure these are factual rather than subjective. Be specific about what disciplinary action will be taken and clearly state what changes in behavior or performance are expected going forward.

HR tip

Write-ups should focus on the behavior, not the employee. Feedback towards the issue, rather than the person, ensure a serious and professional tone is maintained throughout the process and in the employee’s permanent record.

Example of an employee write-up

Employee name:
Employee role:
Type of violation:
John Smith
Risk advisor
Paula Theodora
Poor customer service
Supervisor statement:As a risk advisor, Mr. Smith regularly offers advice to the company’s clients. He receives phone calls and emails when clients have questions and concerns and, in accordance with company policy, he is expected to be helpful, polite and to resolve their queries and issues. Between September 2022 and February 2023, Mr. Smith has received four verbal warnings for poor conduct when dealing with a client. In each case, he was overheard by his supervisor speaking poorly to a client. Informal coaching to improve his customer service skills was implemented after the second incident in October 2022. The coaching has not had the desired effect, as evidenced by two further incidents followed by verbal warnings.
On 4 March, 2023, the company received a formal complaint of poor customer service from a client. Mr. Smith is named in the complaint. Mr Smith’s colleagues were questioned and they confirm that they heard the incident take place. Mr. Smith was rude, aggressive, and did not resolve the customer’s query.
In light of repeated infractions and in accordance with company policy, which Mr. Smith signed on 15 July 2020 when he joined the business, a decision has been made to issue a formal employee write-up.
Expectations:From now until the set deadline, Mr. Smith will undertake regular formal training on customer service best-practice. He will also take weekly anger management classes. His phone calls will be recorded and monitored so that his progress and customer service levels can be tracked. Failure to comply with these expectations will result in immediate termination of employment.
Employee Acknowledgment:I, John Smith, acknowledge receipt of this written warning, understand the contents and expectations, and agree to take the necessary steps to improve how I engage with clients and resolve their queries.
Employee signature:
Supervisor signature:
HR signature:

John Smith

Paula Theodora
Ronald Haas

Best practices for using employee write-up forms

Throughout this guide, we have highlighted the seriousness of employee write-ups. HR professionals play an important role in ensuring that all managers and supervisors understand this and comply with best practice to ensure employee write-ups are used appropriately and that the correct tone is maintained if the decision is made to issue a write-up.

Here are some top tips to ensure your organization follows best practices when using employee write-up forms.

  • Always follow company policies and procedures. If a policy or established and documented procedure has not been violated, is a write-up warranted? Following company policies and procedures ensures that employee write-ups are used consistently and in compliance with guidelines and are not issued too quickly or inappropriately.
  • Reference company policies. When applicable, cite the specific policy or rule that the employee has violated, and explain the consequences of not adhering to these guidelines.
  • Use progressive discipline. Employee write-ups should typically be part of a progressive process, where less severe measures like verbal warnings or informal coaching are used first, and written warnings are issued when previous efforts have not led to improvement.
  • Provide clear expectations. Outline the expected behavior or performance improvement, and provide a timeline for achieving these goals. Offer support, resources, or training that can help the employee improve.
  • Explain consequences. Clearly communicate the potential consequences of not addressing the issue, which may include further disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  • Be objective and fair. Treat all employees consistently, regardless of their position, tenure, or personal relationships. Avoid showing favoritism or bias.
  • Allow for an employee response. Give the employee an opportunity to provide their perspective, ask questions, or raise concerns about the write-up. This can help clarify misunderstandings and promote open communication.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Keep the write-up and related discussions confidential to protect the employee’s privacy and maintain a professional work environment.
  • Document and follow up. Keep a copy of the write-up in the employee’s personnel file, and follow up regularly to monitor their progress, providing ongoing feedback and support.

HR tip

Document the procedure and best practice for write-ups and share it with all managers and supervisors. This will avoid write-ups being issued too quickly or in anger.

Checklist: Next steps after an employee write-up

After an employee has received a write-up, as an HR professional, you have several important responsibilities to ensure the disciplinary process is effective and fair. These next steps include:

  1. Maintain documentation. Ensure the write-up is documented and filed in the employee’s personnel file. As we’ve mentioned, this record-keeping is crucial for tracking behavior patterns and providing evidence of disciplinary actions in case of disputes or litigation.
  2. Follow-up. Collaborate with the employee’s supervisor or manager to follow up on the employee’s progress, ensuring that they are working towards the outlined improvement goals. This may involve regular check-ins, status updates, or additional coaching sessions.
  3. Provide support. Offer resources or training to help the employee improve their performance or behavior. You could recommend internal or external training programs, mentorship, or other forms of support tailored to the employee’s needs.
  4. Monitor consistency. Ensure that disciplinary actions, including write-ups, are applied consistently and fairly across your organization. Regularly review disciplinary records to identify trends or issues that may require policy adjustments or additional training for managers.
  5. Conflict resolution. Be prepared to step in and mediate if the employee disputes the write-up or if tensions arise between the employee and their supervisor. Investigate the issue, facilitate communication, and work towards a fair resolution.
  6. Legal compliance. Continuously monitor compliance with relevant labor laws and regulations to minimize the risk of legal issues or claims of unfair treatment.
  7. Evaluate effectiveness. Assess the effectiveness of the disciplinary process, including the use of employee write-ups, to identify areas for improvement or adjustments to company policies and procedures. For example, if multiple employees are regularly receiving write-ups for similar policy infractions, is the problem the employees or a lack of understanding of the policy? 
  8. Address escalation. If the employee fails to improve or repeats the misconduct despite the write-up, work with the supervisor or manager to determine the appropriate next steps in the disciplinary process, including additional write-ups, suspension, demotion, or termination.

HR tip

HR’s involvement in the employee write-up process effectively addresses performance or behavior issues, promotes employee growth, and maintains a safe and productive work environment.

Use employee write-ups effectively

Employee write-ups should be used for serious and repeat offenses that go against company policies and expectations. With an employee write-up form template, HR professionals can guide managers and supervisors in the best practice of write-ups to ensure a good outcome for the organization, employees and their supervisors. The ultimate goal is to ensure a safe, respectful and productive working environment.  

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