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First written warning letter

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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.

Reading time
How long to understand and implement this letter?
5 mins
Word count
How many words in this letter?
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What is a First written warning letter?

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.

Best practice timescale for this to be issued
When should this letter be issued?
As soon as possible after a disciplinary hearing has been held, and a decision is made
Issued by who, to whom
Who should issue this letter, and to whom?
The Employer (you) to the Employee
Applicable legal jurisdictions
In which jurisdictions can this letter be used?
Great Britain & NI (United Kingdom), Worldwide

What legislation and best practice guidelines have been taken into account in the development of this template?

United Kingdom
  • 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.

Other territories

Consult your jurisdiction's employment legislation or labor laws to ensure compliance with the template. Review the language for local precision.

First written warning [Delete this line]

[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 [or performance] falls 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 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 [or performance] to the expected standard. If you require any support or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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]

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First written warning letter
first written warning letter