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How to Word a Write-Up for Being Tardy at Your Workplace

by Grace Ferguson, studioD

Written warnings are usually given after a verbal reprimand did not cause the desired correction, or in cases when a verbal reprimand is not adequate. If one of your employees is frequently late for work, depending on company policy, you may issue her a written warning. The letter – which should be direct, clear and tactful – shows how the employee has violated the company's tardiness policy.


Before you write up an employee for excessive tardiness, review the company’s policy on the matter. For example, under company policy, excessive tardiness means being late more than twice in any month. This includes arriving late to work and returning from break and lunch past the allotted time. Note special circumstances that can be waived, such as when an employee is sick and has a doctor’s note.


You may use a confidential memorandum or letter format to write the letter. At the top left corner, put the employee’s name and title, your name and title, and the date and type of warning being issued. In the latter case, your subject line may say “Written warning due to excessive tardiness.”


If you’ve verbally warned or counseled the employee before, start by listing the dates of those warnings and what was discussed. Then explain how the employee has again violated the company’s tardiness policy. State the exact days on which the infractions occurred and the number of minutes the employee was late on each day. If this is the first warning, explain that you value the employee's work with the company and hope to continue working with him in a mutually-beneficial environment. Say that to accomplish this, he must be on time for work. Explain that you understand that things sometimes happen, which can cause delay, such as heavy traffic or car problems. However, your records indicate that he’s broken the company’s tardiness rule. Include the details of each violation.


Tell the employee how her tardiness negatively affects the company. For example, you might write: “It is critical that you arrive to work on time so I do not have to assign your duties to your co-workers.” Write the effect of her actions on the company’s bottom line, if applicable. For example: "When you're late, calls go unanswered and deliveries are delayed." Reiterate your expectations for the employee, including her scheduled work times, such as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks.


Nothing will change if the employee does not know the consequences of his actions. You might write to the employee: “Future violations may result in further disciplinary action, including unpaid suspension or termination of employment.” Request that he contact you or the human resources department immediately if he has an extraordinary circumstance that prevents him from being on time. This may happen, for example, if he has personal issues or is disabled.

Final Stage

The letter should include signature lines for you and the employee to sign and date. You may also create a line for your boss to sign. If the employee refuses to sign the document, indicate on the form that she refused to sign. Give her a copy of the memo or letter and explain that her refusal to sign does not lessen its validity.

About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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