How to write and send a letter of reprimand.

This article presents tips on writing and sending a reprimand letter that will effectively communicate your message.

In any business, it's essential to have a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that employees follow the rules. When someone does break the rules, it's sometimes necessary to issue a reprimand — a formal letter addressed to the employee outlining the offense and the consequences.

A letter of reprimand is an official document that records an employee's misconduct. This can be tricky, especially if you're not sure how to format it, what to say, or how to deliver it. It is crucial to write a letter of reprimand correctly, as it will go in the employee's personnel file and may remain there for an extended period.

Tips for composing and delivering a reprimand.

In some cases, it may be best to hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the issues involved before deciding the appropriate action to take. If you do decide to proceed with a letter of reprimand, following these tips will help ensure that you've done it correctly and that the letter effectively communicates your message:

  1. Consult with your HR department, if there is one, before you write a letter of reprimand. There may be specific procedures you are recommended — or required — to follow.
  2. Choose the right tone. Be professional, but not cold and uncaring.
  3. Be clear and concise in your writing. State the facts of the incident and the employee's role in it.
  4. Don't use inflammatory language. Stick to the facts and avoid personal attacks.
  5. Be specific about what the person did wrong. Vague descriptions often lead to misunderstandings.
  6. If there are positives about the employee's actions during the incident, be sure to point those out too.
  7. Be professional in your delivery as well. Send the letter via email, registered mail, or hand-deliver it to the employee. If using email, e-sign the document and request an acknowledgment reply.

Sending a letter of reprimand is not a decision to be made lightly. Consider the severity of the employee's misconduct and whether a written reprimand is the appropriate course of action. If you still find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to write that letter, these tips will help ensure that your message is clear and compelling.

Remember, the goal is not only to call out the employee's behavior but also to correct it — to prevent it from happening again. Keep your tone respectful, yet firm. By following these simple guidelines, you can help increase the likelihood that the letter of reprimand will have the desired effect on your employee.

Writing a letter of reprimand is never going to be a pleasant task, but it will be easier if you know you are following best practices and have documented every step. Once you have finished writing the letter, have another manager or HR review it to make sure it’s fair and accurate. Good documentation is vital in case there is ever a question about whether or not the employee was given a chance to improve or correct the improper behavior.

Find other tips about how to create, edit, collaborate, sign, and share important documents you've e-signed using Adobe Acrobat Sign today.