The proper way to write up an employee as a form of disciplinary action is to compose a letter of reprimand. A letter of reprimand outlines the specific offense committed by the employee, supports the allegations with documented proof, and states the consequences for the violation.
An effective letter of reprimand begins with a clearly worded overview as to the reason for the disciplinary action. For example, if an employee is repeatedly late for work in violation of company policy, the opening section explains that the employee has violated the lateness policy. A mere statement of wrongdoing is only the first step. A reprimand is much stronger when backed by evidence, which is done by including details of specific instances when the employee was observed doing wrong. In the lateness example, the reprimand might include several dates and times when the employee came in late.
A supervisor may choose to include how the employee's actions negatively impacted co-workers and business operations. For instance, a co-worker must do extra work due to the problem behavior. The letter outlines what steps the employee must take to rectify the situation. The last section includes any disciplinary consequences the employee faces should the behavior continue, which may include demotion or firing. The letter must also include supervisor and employee signatures.
If relevant, the employer may include a timeline, which shows when the performance of the employee must improve. A re-evaluation date also may appear in the letter, as well as the consequences an employee may expect if his performance does not improve. The supervisor must sign the letter before giving it to the employee, and the employee must sign the letter to show his understanding of the consequences. Though the employee does not have to agree with the contents, he must acknowledge them.
It is best for employers to ensure the letter is legally compliant before giving it to the employee. To do this, the employer should speak with a lawyer or human resources professional.