How To Write A Perfect Letter Of Reprimand (2024)

A good letter of reprimand should include: concerns, the goal of the letter, quotes of policies, required adjustments, next steps, a positive note, and signing.
Last updated on:
December 29, 2023
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A letter of reprimand is document that shows the employer’s warning to an employee in case of weak performance.

It is a letter for the darker days, and neither the employee or the worker want to see this document. But, being realistic, something we have to make such documents.

Letters of reprimand are the go-to when verbal communication is not effective upon expressing your concerns to employees.

If you wish to know where you have to being writing a letter of reprimand, this is the place to be in.

Let’s check it out!

How to write a letter of reprimand

A good letter of reprimand should include: concerns, the goal of the letter, quotes of policies, required adjustments, next steps, a positive note, and signing.

Of course, this is just the short way to answer your question. We broke down every section of the letter of reprimand in the follow sections.

1. Express your concern

Step zero is to think of the concern. Then, step 1 is to begin addressing it to the employee.

Either have a formal face-to-face conversation or end a formal email to the employee and let them know about the situation before jumping in writing the letter.

How to write a letter of reprimand

It’s always best to talk to your employee and have an overview of what they’re like: hard worker, slower worker, hints of weaker performance in the past etc.

Once you’re sure that there is a pattern of something wrong (after the a few strikes), you can start writing the letter of reprimand.

2. Make subject clear

You want to make your letter’s goal obvious and not send the wrong message.

Hence, begin the letter by telling the reader you’re sending them a genuine reprimand letter — you’d imagine this has an instant impact on them.

Then, use the information you’ve gathered in the first step. That is, mentioning previous incidents and conversations you’ve had on the reprimand’s theme.

Pro Tip: If possible, mention the date of an event that occurred in the past which led to some discomfort regarding the reprimand.

Lastly, make it clear that your letter of reprimand is directly related to a violation of the company’s rules.

3. Relate to the policy

By now you should’ve clearly described the employee’s behaviour that led to some discomfort in the company.

Now, make it clear that your company doesn’t tolerate such behaviour by linking to the policy and try to be as precise as possible: quote whatever it is.

When intending your reprimand in a written letter, you have to be neutral and clear and avoid any ambiguity.

4. Require adjustments

At this stage, the concern has been explained properly: previous experience was referenced and the proof of violation is there according to the policy.

Now, express what you want the employee to change. Firmly mention that continuing to violate the policy will result in a negative impact on the organization.

Notice how we mentioned the organization rather than the individual. You don’t want to scare the employee, but rather help open their eyes.

To help the situation, guide them in the right directions: set expectations, deadlines, and ways to improve what they’re doing the wrong way.

Deadlines can help motivate your employee to get work done quicker.

5. Guide for the next steps

Upon setting expectations, you need to come up with a plan for what’s next.

For instance, you can guide your employee towards reviewing policies, issuing a formal apology in case someone was offended by past actions, and so on.

How to ace a letter of reprimand

This section is what helps to keep integrity and positive relations with your employee in the future. 

Why? Because you’re not threatening them, but rather help put them back on track.

6. Finish positively

It’s important to keep a good energy in the company, even when bad things happen. That’s why it’s good to end the letter in a positive, friendly manner.

Try to let them know that everything will be fine if they’ll try to fix the weak spot and get back to normal. Positive messages are encouraging!

7. Electronically sign

Talking about the format of the letter, you should end it with the date and sign it.

At SignHouse, we’re making it easier for you to sign multiple documents at once, including letters of reprimand. Not just for you, but also for the employee!

Guide to writing a letter of reprimand

Feel free to use our electronic signature software to generate your signature and add it at the end of the letter of reprimand.

How do you respond to a reprimand letter?

If you’re received a warning letter from your employer (formally known as a ‘letter of reprimand’), follow these steps to answer properly:

  1. Accept the situation and push through it;
  2. Explain it from your side in a non-defensive tone;
  3. Mention that you’re going to re-check the company’s policy;
  4. Propose a meeting to discuss the issue further.

The last step can show a sign of confidence and maturity to your employee, as it proves that you’re ready to fix the situation.

What is a verbal reprimand?

A verbal reprimand is an employer’s expression about a discomfort created to the company by a worker.

As the name suggests, a verbal reprimand is most likely just a face-to-face or online conversation between the employer/manager and employee.

Is a verbal warning a reprimand?

Yes, a verbal warning is the same as a reprimand.

Verbal warnings (reprimands) are supposed to inform an employee that they’ve done something which isn’t in tune with a company’s policy.

Verbal reprimands come in two shapes: formal and informal.

Formal verbal reprimand

A formal reprimand is an official warning addressed to a person that broke a rule.

Formal reprimands are the expression of a concern using a firm, professional tone relating to the situation.

At the same time, formal verbal warnings take place before writing and sending a letter of reprimand. Formal reprimands are the stage right behind the letter.

Informal verbal reprimand

To simplify informal verbal warnings: they’re non-official conversations between a manager and the employee.

Informal verbal reprimands are the very first warning on a concern without escalating the situation or having any deep consequences.

Does a verbal warning need to be documented?

Verbal warnings are not compulsory to document. Though, it would be a great idea to kee a record of the events.

Documenting a verbal warning can help the company be more organized and find the weak spot faster in case the concern persists in the future.


Neither employees or the employer want to reach the point of writing letters of reprimand and neither having conversations about it — that’s clear by now.

But, when it happens, you have to know how to write such a document as a manager/employer, and how to accept it, in case you’re the employee.

As a final re-cap of the article, in just a few words: always avoid ambiguity and keep a formal, yet friendly tone when writing the document.

That’s all you have to know on how to write a letter of reprimand.

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Ch David is the co-founder of SignHouse. David is here to help the product development team expand the capabilities of ultimate eSignature maker for all your needs. Join David and the SignHouse team in stepping up electronic signatures!