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How to Write Up an Employee: Your 4-Step Guide

A specific, fair and well-documented write up gives the employee the opportunity to improve and protects the employer in case of a lawsuit

Posted by Ann Snook on September 14th, 2020

Employee write ups are never fun for managers or the offender. However, they’re a necessary part of remedying the misconduct and, when done right, can protect your company if the employee takes legal action against you.

Here’s how to write up an employee in four simple steps.


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1. Include All the Facts


When filling out an employee disciplinary form, be as specific as possible. Include as much information as you can. Not only will this protect you from potential legal action, but you can also study misconduct records when you plan out preventive strategies.

On every write up form, include:

  • The employee’s full name and employee number
  • Time and date of the write up and of specific incidents
  • Reason for the write up, in detail
  • Witness accounts confirming the employee’s misconduct
  • Times and dates of previous write ups and incidents


Fill your report with facts, but never opinions or inferences about the employee’s behavior. If you take disciplinary action against them based on assumptions and they feel it’s unfair, you could be slapped with regulatory fines and/or a lawsuit.


RELATED: How to Complete Employee Disciplinary Forms (or Write-Ups)


2. Reference Company Policies


In addition to the straight facts of the misconduct, an employee write up should include references to your company’s policies. What policy did they break? What are the consequences? Clearly state how the employee’s behavior violated the policy.

Directly quote the text of your policy and direct the employee to its place in their handbook. You can even attach a print-out of the policy page to the report for your records.

All of these steps prove that your organization is addressing the issue consistently and according to your written policies. Be sure to give equal consequences for equal misconduct to avoid employee claims that you discriminated against them and their case.


RELATED: 53 Key Sections of an Employee Handbook (and Other Helpful Tips)


3. Document Write Ups Well


Good documentation is the key to any investigation. It protects your organization and your employees and can help you uncover areas of risk that need to be addressed.

As mentioned above, be diligent when writing up an employee. Use the same form for every incident and every person. Have the employee sign and date the completed form to help you maintain a timeline of events.

In addition, keep a copy of the form for your records. This is helpful if you need to provide evidence to prove you took proper steps to address the misconduct. Disciplinary records also highlight recurring types of incidents and employees with multiple write ups so you can take preventive steps.


When you’re investigating bad behavior in the workplace, be efficient and consistent. To improve your organization’s process, download our free employee misconduct investigation guide.


4. Give Instructions for Fixing the Behavior


Finally, give the employee a chance to change their ways. Explain why their conduct was wrong and what behavior is expected instead. Then, give specific details and a deadline on how to improve.

For example, if you write up an employee for frequent tardiness, explain that the employee agreed in their contract to work 37.5 hours per week, but they have only been working 30 hours a week because they are late every morning. Then, ask them to commit to working the required 7.5 hours per day by the end of the week.

End your instructions with clearly stated consequences. What will happen if the employee doesn’t fix their behavior by the deadline? Once again, make sure to cite the applicable company policy when determining disciplinary measures.


A fair and thorough disciplinary report gives the employee an opportunity to improve and protects your organization in the event of legal action.

Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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