Small Business Owner’s Guide to Employee Discipline: The Write-Up

This is the second in a series of articles about employee discipline in small business settings. The first article on the topic of employee discipline discussed verbal warnings. If you missed that article, please click on the author’s name at the top of this page for a list of articles. This article will discuss the next step in employee discipline, a ‘write-up’. A ‘write-up’ comes after an employee has been given a verbal warning. When an employee has been informed of something that they are doing wrong and they continue the action, the next step in the disciplinary process must be taken. As a Human Resources manager for a small business, I find tasks like these are unpleasant but must be done. By following the guidelines below, you may find your job to be a little less uncomfortable.

It becomes necessary to reinforce the verbal warning with a write up when an employee refuses to improve their actions. As a small business owner, you may wonder why you need to take these steps rather than just terminating the employee. Termination is always an option, but there are factors to consider before taking this step. One being you will have to replace the employee. Depending on your business, it may not be as simple as pulling someone off the street. You will have to spend time training the new employee and getting them accustomed to the job. You will then need to spend money placing an ad or using a temporary agency to replace the employee. If the employee is overall a good worker, you may well benefit from following the steps of discipline rather than terminating them. You can take help from online CRM for your small business in this process. This is seamless and friendly way that you can use so that you can make your employees improve their performances.

Upon determining that an employee must be written up, you must document the action and be specific. Note the date of the verbal warning, and the date of each infraction following the verbal warning. Have your paperwork ready before you call the employee into the office.

Once you have your paperwork, call the employee to the office. Chances are they have been expecting this. This disciplinary action should be a little more firm than the last. You should recap the verbal warning that the employee has previously received. Once you have done that, you should tell the employee that since the action has continued, you feel that you have no other choice other than a written reprimand (write-up).

The write up should be on a form, you can easily find templates on the internet for employee discipline. A good administrative assistant can also create form for this. The form should have an employee information section, where identifying information about the employee is listed. It should have a section for the type of infraction the employee has committed. Many forms have several infractions listed along with check boxes. The form should also have an area that explains previous action (the verbal warning). An area for suggestions on improving is also necessary. The employee may have comments of their own that you will want to record. The final section is the Action Taken section, this section contains the action you are taking during this reprimand. Suspending the employee without pay, or sending them home for the day, or whatever disciplinary action you deem appropriate should be listed in this area.

You should inform the employee of what to expect if they continue the action. Since you have given them a verbal warning, and now written them up, the next logical action is termination. Many companies implement a series of write-ups before termination. The business owners or the board decides this. Many small business owners, if they implement a disciplinary procedure at all, will not give the employee multiple write-ups for the same offense. Generally, after an employee has been given a verbal warning, a write-up with some type of reprimand, the next logical step is termination.

Termination will be discussed in the final article of this series. If you have given an employee every opportunity to correct their actions and they continue the same behavior, you may have no other choice than to terminate them. This is not an easy task, but is sometimes unavoidable.

If you found this article useful, and would like to read more by this author, click on her name at the top of this page.


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Janice Morgan is the head writer at Gonzagala. She loves writing as much as she loves her seventeen cats! Her articles on nature are well appreciated.