Managing people sometimes means issuing warnings about rule infractions, such as tardiness. A formal, written warning may be enough to alter the behavior of an employee whose time sheet shows a habit of coming in to work late. If the problem continues and you are forced to take disciplinary action, written warnings serve as a paper trail that prove an effort to inform the employee of the less than satisfactory behavior and to allow an opportunity to resolve the problem.

Step 1.

Provide pertinent information on your warning, such as the employee’s first and last name, title, department and date of the discipline. Print it on company letterhead or include the company name and address. Also, write your full name, title and department. Address the warning directly to the employee.

Step 2.

Explain that the employee is being written up for tardiness as shown by the time sheet, or time card. Cite the specific date(s) on which the infraction occurred. Specify the employee's start time, as well as the time listed on the time sheet for each infraction.

Step 3.

Cite the company regulation that requires all employees to be ready to work at their scheduled times. If this information is published in an employee handbook or other document, point this out and make a copy to attach to the warning.

Step 4.

State that the document serves as a written warning to the employee. If the employee has received previous verbal or written warnings for the same issue, include the dates of these, too.

Step 5.

Detail what will happen if the tardiness continues. Some companies have a strict process, such as a “three-strikes” rule, while others make decisions on a case-by-case basis. To cover all possibilities, include the statement, “Continued tardiness is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.”

Step 6.

Sign the document. Include the notation “cc: file” at the bottom to indicate that you are placing a copy in the employee’s file as formal discipline. Also, note any other individuals or departments who will receive a copy, such as human resources or your department head. Leave room or the employee's signature and date. If your subordinate refuses to sign the document, state that on the signature line. This will indicate that the employee was present and made aware of the contents of the warning.


Each state has its own laws about employee termination. Consult an attorney or your corporate legal department to ensure that your wording is legal.