First written warning letter template

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Our First Written Warning Letter Template addresses performance issues formally, promoting improvement and setting clear expectations.

Use this letter template when writing to an employee confirming that a first written warning sanction has been applied following a conduct hearing. This would be suitable where the nature of the misconduct or poor performance is serious, or has not improved, despite previous discussions/warnings.

Why this letter is necessary

A First Written Warning Letter is a formal document that is issued to an employee to address any issues or misconduct in the workplace. It is typically the first step in a progressive formal disciplinary process that aims to improve an employee's behaviour or performance.

The letter is issued after a disciplinary hearing has taken place, and typically outlines the specific concerns or issues the employer has with the employee's conduct, and sets out expectations for improvement. It may also provide details on any consequences that may result if the employee does not improve their behavior or performance, such as further disciplinary action or termination of employment.

The letter is typically kept on the employee's personnel file, and may be used as evidence in any future disciplinary proceedings. It is important for both employers and employees to take the contents of a First Written Warning Letter seriously, as it is a formal warning that there are concerns that need to be addressed.

To ensure fairness, warnings should always be issued in accordance with the Company disciplinary policy, which should follow the ACAS Code of Practice in relation to dismissal and disciplinary procedures.

  • Employment Rights Act 1996: Provides guidelines on the use of written warnings as part of the disciplinary process.

  • Equality Act 2010: Ensures fair treatment during the disciplinary process, prohibiting discrimination based on protected characteristics.

  • ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures: Offers best practices for handling disciplinary issues, including the use of written warnings.

  • Data Protection Act 2018: Ensures that employee data related to disciplinary matters is handled securely and confidentially.

Workflow sequence

Previous step
Disciplinary hearing script

Our Disciplinary Hearing Script Template ensures structured proceedings, promoting fairness and adherence to disciplinary policies during hearings.

This step
First written warning letter template
Next step
Disciplinary outcome appeal letter template

Our Disciplinary Outcome Appeal Letter Template empowers employees to seek fair resolution, addressing concerns and ensuring procedural fairness.

Practical example

Scenario: First Written Warning for Unauthorised Absence

ABC Limited, a retail company, faces a challenge when John, a sales department employee, exhibits a pattern of unauthorised absences. HR Manager Sarah is committed to ensuring a fair and impartial disciplinary process. She coaches the department manager, Alex, on how to handle the situation effectively.


Sarah assigns another HR representative, Emily, to conduct an investigation into John's unauthorised absences. Emily reviews attendance records and gathers relevant information to maintain objectivity in the process.

Coaching the Manager

Sarah coaches Alex on how to approach the disciplinary process with fairness and professionalism. She advises Alex to remain objective, focus on the facts, and adhere to company policies and procedures. Sarah emphasises the importance of providing John with an opportunity to explain his absences and ensuring that the process is conducted in a supportive yet firm manner.

Invitation to Meeting

Following Emily's investigation, Alex invites John to a disciplinary meeting to discuss his unauthorised absences. The invitation includes the date, time, and location of the meeting, along with the specific allegations against John.

Right to Be Accompanied

Alex informs John of his right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative at the disciplinary meeting. John chooses to be accompanied by his colleague, Mark, as per his rights.

Decision Aligned with Company Policy/Custom and Practice

During the disciplinary meeting, Alex presents the findings of Emily's investigation and gives John an opportunity to provide an explanation. John acknowledges his absences but explains that he had personal issues that required his attention. Alex refers to the company's attendance policy, which clearly states the procedure for reporting absences and the consequences of unauthorised absences. He also highlights the impact of John's absences on the team and the importance of adhering to company policies.

Outcome and Opportunity to Appeal

After considering John's explanation and the evidence presented, Alex, with guidance from Sarah, decides to issue a first written warning for John's unauthorised absences. Alex explains the consequences of the warning and informs John of his right to appeal the decision.


By coaching the manager and assigning a different HR representative to conduct the investigation, ABC Limited ensures fairness and impartiality in the disciplinary process. Sarah's guidance helps Alex navigate the situation with professionalism and adherence to company policies, ultimately promoting a positive employee relations environment.

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Reading time icon
Time to read / prep / use
5 mins
Document specs icon
Word count / length
207 words, 1 page A4
Date last reviewed icon
Date last reviewed
1 July 2024
first written warning letter template

[Company name]

[Sender address]



[Recipient name]

[Recipient address]


Dear [Recipient first name],


Notice of First Written Warning

Following the disciplinary hearing held on [date], we have decided to issue you with a First Written Warning for your conduct [or performance] at work. The hearing was held in accordance with the Company's Disciplinary Policy and Procedure, and you were given the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against you.

We have taken into consideration the evidence presented at the hearing, as well as your explanation, and have concluded that your [conduct | performance] has fallen below the expected standard. Specifically, we have found that you [insert details of misconduct or performance issue].

We consider your actions to be a [serious] breach of Company policies and procedures[, as well as a significant failure of your duties as an employee]. As a result, we are left with no option but to issue you with a First Written Warning.

This warning will remain on your personnel file for [timeframe], and failure to improve your [conduct | performance] within this period may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

We expect you to take this warning seriously, and to take immediate steps to address your [conduct | performance] to the expected standard.

If you require any support or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact [me | name].

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You have the right of appeal against this decision. Your appeal should be directed to [Name | the HR Department | HR Services] within [number] days of receiving this letter. It should set out in full the reason(s) for your appeal.


Yours [faithfully | sincerely],



[Sender name]

[Sender job title]

[Sender telephone]
[Sender email]


[For, and on behalf of [Company name] ]

Why choose our First written warning letter template?

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