An HR Warning Letter Sample & Guide

As an HR professional, there is a need to set expectations for employee performance and behaviors. When those expectations aren’t met, knowing how to handle the situation fairly and equitably can be challenging. This is where the HR warning letter sample comes into play.

A well-written warning letter informs employees of the repercussions of failing to improve performance or behavior.

In this blog post, we provide guidelines and explain why you need a warning letter sample. We also give you one, so you can write your own with ease! Read on

What Is an HR Warning Letter?

An HR warning letter is a formal document issued to an employee to formally address inappropriate behavior, performance issues, or other infractions.

The letter serves as both a reprimand and a reminder of the company’s expectations for future conduct and performance. It also serves as record-keeping for any disciplinary action that may be taken against the employee in the future.

HR warning letters should be written professionally, clearly stating the expectations and consequences for failing to meet them. An HR warning letter must include specific information about the following;

  • The incident or behavior
  • Any previous attempts at counseling or instruction given to the employee
  • What corrective action will be taken if the inappropriate behavior persists.

What Calls for a Warning Letter?

There are a variety of behaviors and incidents that can require employers to issue HR warning letters. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor performance or failure to meet deadlines
  • Violations of company policy, such as attendance issues, insubordination, or misuse of company property.
  • Inappropriate behavior in the workplace, such as harassment or bullying, or any other conduct that is unacceptable in the workplace.

Depending on the severity of the infraction, an employer may issue a verbal warning before issuing a written HR warning letter. If the behavior or occurrence is severe, a written HR warning letter can be issued without a verbal warning.

Business letters range from formal to semi-formal in tone and structure
HR warning Letter

What to Include in a Warning Letter?

When writing an HR warning letter, employers should include the following information:

  • Date of the letter
  • Name and position of the employee receiving the letter
  • Details of what actions or behaviors have been deemed inappropriate
  • Any attempts to counsel or instruct the employee before issuing a warning (if applicable)
  • Expectations for improvement within a specified period, including any consequences for failing to meet expectations
  • A signature from the HR representative giving the letter.

It is important to note that a warning letter should not be a form of punishment or harassment. Employers should strive to maintain professionalism and ensure their warning letters are factual, direct, and clear.

In case of further disciplinary action, employers should preserve copies of all HR warning letters in the employee’s personnel file.

An HR warning letter isn’t just a reminder of the company’s expectations and the consequences of not meeting them. It can also be used to encourage employees to change their behavior or work performance positively.

By providing employees with clear expectations and consequences, employers can help foster a workplace culture of respect and accountability.

HR Warning Letter Sample

The following is a sample HR warning letter:

Dear Mr./Ms. _____,

This letter is to inform you that your recent behavior and/or performance have been deemed inappropriate by the company. Specifically, on (date), you (describe incident or behavior). This conduct is unacceptable in the workplace and violates the company’s policy on (describe violation).

We have previously attempted to counsel and instruct you regarding this matter. However, it appears that our efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore, we are providing a written warning to remind you of our expectations for future conduct and performance.

If this behavior persists, further disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including termination of employment. We expect a behavior/performance improvement within the next __ days/months.


HR Representative



Overall, an HR warning letter is an essential tool for establishing clear expectations and consequences within a business. It should be carefully prepared and clearly state undesirable behaviors and the consequences if they continue.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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