When a conduct or performance issue occurs, you shouldn’t wait around to watch it develop into something more serious. Handling problems effectively and efficiently is often key to avoiding formal disciplinaries, dismissals, and even tribunal claims.
One of the first steps you should take is a verbal warning—the other is a letter of concern. In this article, we’ll take you through how to use this letter properly and provide you with a sample document to use in your workplace.
What is a letter of concern?
A letter of concern to an employee in the UK is a document you can send accompanying, or separate to, a verbal warning. This is usually following a concern with an employee’s performance or an issue of misconduct.
This isn’t a formal document and doesn’t need to be kept on an employee’s record. You can keep it on record if you choose to do so, however.
How long does a letter of concern last?
As it is informal, it’s up to you. You are free to highlight a period in which you expect an improvement in performance or behaviour. When you are doing this, however, it’s important to remember to be reasonable.
If you’re dealing with a performance issue, for example, the individual may need the training to help them improve. If you set a deadline of a week to improve, and then set no support or key indicators, they may see your limit as unreasonable.
How to write a letter of concern to an employee
If you’ve had to put together a written warning in the past, you may know what a letter of concern at work looks like. The content is similar, only less formal.
With this in mind, it’s important to highlight in the letter that this isn’t a formal warning—only a precursor.
The purpose of the document is to encourage the employee to improve without resorting to your formal disciplinary procedure. It should also let them know you are monitoring their work, or behaviour closely.
Remember, the purpose is to motivate, not discourage or punish. That will come later if you don’t see an improvement.
Make sure you include a point of contact for the employee, such as HR, in the letter of concern. Encourage them to make contact if they wish to discuss the issue further.
Letters of concern and employment law
A letter of concern in the workplace is optional. As a result, there isn’t any employment law governing the use of them specifically.
However, it’s important that you treat employees fairly and are reasonable throughout the process. You can do this by following your internal policy and using our template to inform your process.
How to use the letter of concern template
As there are different reasons for issuing this document, there is no standard letter of concern in the workplace template. You must tailor yours to the situation, employee and intention. In this section, we’ll provide a sample letter of concern template for conduct.
If your letter follows on from an informal discussion with the employee, your letter should reiterate the key points made in that meeting. In particular, listen to their reasoning for their conduct or performance and make a note of it. Detail the reasons you aren’t satisfied with their behaviour or performance to date. There could be many reasons for this. Some letter of concern examples include:
- Persistent lateness
- Missing deadlines
- Failure to communicate with line manager
In these examples, they may give reasons such as: “traffic always holds me up”, “the deadlines are unreasonable,” or “the line manager is difficult to get hold of”.
You must be ready to take these excuses on board and highlight why they are unsatisfactory. Sometimes, this may require an investigation and change to the way of working.
Next, confirm that this isn’t a formal warning, but that you expect an improvement following the discussion. Follow this up with a statement telling the individual that repeat behaviour or continued poor performance will cause formal disciplinary action.
Finalise the letter with a point of contact. This may be yourself, their direct line manager or an HR representative. Let them know they can contact this person if they have questions.
If you wish to download a letter of concern to an employee sample template, you can do so by clicking the button below.
Expert support in employee conduct with Croner
While we won’t provide a sample letter of concern for poor performance, we will provide guidance on writing one.
If you need help drafting a letter from scratch, you can speak to one of expert HR team today.
If you need further support with employee conduct or disciplinaries from an HR expert, speak to our team today on 0800 141 3791
Disclaimer: This template is provided ‘as is’ and Croner excludes all representations, warranties, obligations and liabilities in relation to the template to the maximum extent permitted by law.
Croner is not liable for any errors or omissions in the template and shall not be liable for any loss, injury or damage of any kind caused by its use. Use of the template is entirely at the risk of the User and should you wish to do so then independent legal advice should be sought before use.
Use of the template will be deemed to constitute acceptance of the above terms.
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