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Everything You Need to Know About Employee Write-Up Forms

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Employee Write-Up Forms

No one enjoys writing up an employee—and oftentimes, it’s not anyone’s first choice of action. But there comes a time when filling out an employee write-up form is necessary. These written warnings are often following either one, or multiple, verbal warnings.

While taking the employee warning to the next level with a write-up may seem intimidating, it’s also an opportunity. A write-up provides formal documentation of anything that has transpired, as well as creates a plan of action for the employee.

Properly going about an employee write-up can be extremely valuable. But in order to do so, it’s essential to get as much background as possible on employee write-ups and know the steps you should take surrounding write-ups. Being aware of these things ensures that the process goes smoothly. This guide will help you navigate these written warnings.

What is an employee write-up?

An employee write-up is a formal written document sent from a hiring organization to an employee who has violated the organization’s policy or procedure. The formal written documentation is oftentimes a result of the employee’s behavior or performance that doesn’t align with the organization's value, standards, or regulations.

Common reasons for employee write-ups include:

  • Not following general workplace policies
  • Failure to show up to work or frequent tardiness
  • Inefficient job performance
  • Verbal or physical violence in the workplace
  • Harassment in any form
  • Inappropriate attire
  • Inappropriate use of company technology
  • Failure to adhere to safety protocols
  • Complaints from customers
  • Showing up to work under the influence

These written warnings are often addressed in the format of an employee write-up form. The form serves to hold the employee accountable, as well as create a paper trail of disciplinary action. This form will contain the reasoning behind the write-up, clear action on how to improve the behavior, a goal for the employee, and a consequence if this goal isn’t met.

Importance of employee write-up forms

Employee write-ups serve a very important purpose—to create a paper trail of disciplinary action, address the behavior, and provide a plan of action for the employee. Filling out one of these forms also comes with a few other benefits. These include:

  • Write-ups help prevent lawsuits - Having a disciplinary paper trail in place can help reduce and eliminate wrongful termination lawsuits from terminated employees. This is because the write-up serves as a written document proving that the organization has taken multiple steps in attempting to help the employee change their behaviour. This formal document proves that the organization took every step possible to prevent termination.
  • Write-ups can reduce terminations - By letting employees know exactly what they need to do to solve the misconduct, organizations see less terminations. The truth of the matter is that not every employee understands the severity of their behavior until they see it in a write-up. This write-up encourages the employee to acknowledge their behaviour, take action on the written plan, and hopefully solve the issue. By formally bringing this to the employee’s attention, there’s less of a chance that the issue will lead to employee termination.

How to create an employee write-up form

Here are seven steps every employer should take when issuing an employee write-up form:

1.  Don’t do it when you’re angry – This step is the most important for setting an objective and professional tone for the write-up. Employee write-ups are stressful as is, but getting your own emotions involved will only make the situation worse.

If the employee’s misconduct has you upset or angry, wait until things have cooled off before filling out the form. This will allow you to remain objective, professional and avoid any issues in case of a future wrongful termination lawsuit.

2. Document the problem - Documenting every aspect of the problem is so important. This gives you a paper trail in case of lawsuit, it provides support to any disciplinary action that may need to be taken, and it gives a formal timeline to the employee’s misconduct and action taken.

Important things to write down when documenting the write-up include specific dates and times when events occurred, previous action taken (verbal warnings, etc.), and a thorough description of the behavior. Remember to stay objective and stick only to the facts.

3. Use company policies to back you up - Using company policies, regulations, standards, etc. to back you up, gives solid reasoning as to why the employee’s behavior was unacceptable. Use examples from the employee handbook, attendance policy, or any other documented set of company rules if possible.

4. Include any relevant witness statements - If there were any other employees, managers, supervisors, or team members that witnessed the misconduct, be sure to provide their (objective) statements. This will help you build a credible case against any disciplinary action that might need to be taken.

5. Set expectations for improvement - According to the Harvard Business Review[1], 72% of employees believe that negative feedback would help them improve their performance. Therefore, giving the employee the feedback, along with expectations for improvement, will hopefully yield the results you’re looking for.

6. Deliver the write-up in person - Have a formal, in-person meeting with the employee in question where you discuss your concerns, policies, and next steps. At the end of the meeting, have the employee sign something confirming that they have received and read the form.

7. Follow up - After the write-up is given to the employee, the disciplinary process doesn’t end. It’s important to consistently follow up with the employee to ensure that proper action is being taken to improve their behavior. You’ll have to make important decisions based on whether the employee’s behavior improves, so keeping track of their behavior after the fact is so essential.

5 effective templates of employee write-up forms

Here are 5 effective templates you can use for your employee write-up:

(Templates courtesy of[2])

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