How to Address Inappropriate Conduct in a Letter

by Natalie Smith; Updated September 26, 2017
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For most managers, disciplining employees is one of the most uncomfortable experiences with which to contend. Managers have the responsibility of writing disciplinary action letters that remain in employee files to document the employee's wrongdoing. These letters have two functions: to notify the employee what will happen to him as a result of his infraction and to serve as a permanent record of employee misconduct in his file.

Step 1

Load the printer with company letterhead. This letter will become part of the employee's official file, so you must follow the appropriate protocol.

Step 2

Type the full date. Skip a line and type the employee's name and company address. Even if you do not actually mail the letter, following the proper business letter format will convey the impression of professionalism.

Step 3

Begin the letter by typing the employee's name, followed by a colon. Skip a line.

Step 4

Start the first paragraph by stating clearly the nature of the infraction. Refer to your company's employee handbook so the employee can look up the rule for himself. Give specific details about the infraction, such as the date the incident occurred and mention any other employees who were involved. Stating this information clearly will assist you if the employee contests the disciplinary action and takes the matter to court.

Step 5

Explain in detail what the employee did wrong and how she should have acted in the situation. Employees sometimes violate rules because they do not understand them clearly, so an explanation of the violation and appropriate information will help prevent her from committing the infraction a second time. Offer to meet with the employee to discuss the matter in detail.

Step 6

Give the employee the opportunity to make amends for the infraction, such as by writing a formal letter of apology to the other party. Inform him of the deadlines for submitting the response or letter.

Step 7

Tell the employee clearly and concisely what she can expect as a result of this infraction. Give appropriate details for her current punishment, such as the dates of any hearings or effective dates for the termination of her employment, if applicable. If the employee can expect a progressive disciplinary action as a result of further infractions, inform her what those punishments will be.

Step 8

Give the employee the information about the appeals process, if applicable.

Step 9

Ask the employee for a formal response for his file; often this response will be in the form of a formal letter. You need this documentation for the employee's file in case he takes the matter to court.

Step 10

Type your full name and title. Print the letter and sign your name about your typed name in blue or black ink.

Step 11

Make several copies of the letter. Retain 1 copy in the employee's file, give another to your company's lawyer and retain another for your own records.

Step 12

Mail the letter to the employee or give it to him in front of a human resources representative or administrative assistant. You need confirmation that the employee received the official notification.

Tips

  • Keep the tone professional and factual. This letter may go to court if the employee contests the disciplinary action, and you want to appear professional and fair at all times.

About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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