A letter of reprimand serves as communication to an employee and documentation of his behavior. It may also be used for future discipline or termination, or simply to document an employee's performance for future promotion consideration. Many companies require one or more letters of reprimand be issued before any disciplinary action is taken, so it is important to issue a letter when a situation initially arises. An effective letter of reprimand will inspire an employee to improve his performance or behavior.

Document the employee's name, your name, the date and "Letter of Reprimand" at the top of the letter. You may leave room for your signature at the top, near your name, or at the end of the letter.

State that the issue was discussed previously if this is the case. You may be writing a letter of reprimand as a formal follow-up to a meeting or conversation.

Articulate how the employee has broken company policy. Document any occurrences and note specifics like the time, date and location.

Refer to the company handbook and any applicable sections. Include page or section numbers for the employee's reference.

Explain that the behavior must be corrected, and why. Depending on the transgression, stating that the correction of the behavior will improve the efficiency of the team as a whole is acceptable. If applicable, you may also include that correcting the behavior will improve the individual's work quality.

Inform the employee about what consequences he will face if the behavior does not improve. Depending on the situation, a deadline for improvement may be appropriate.

List steps the employee can take to improve his behavior or performance. Be as specific as possible when making suggestions. This gives the employee proper information and opportunity for improvement.

Print the letter of reprimand on company letterhead and sign it. Provide copies for yourself, the employee and your supervisor. Ask that the employee initial or sign and date your copy for your records, and explain that this is merely to confirm that he received the letter.


Review all regulations before writing the letter if the employee is a member of a union.