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5 Reasons to Use an Employee Disciplinary Action Form

Having to take disciplinary action against an employee is never ideal, but a standardized disciplinary action form can make the process easier. Instead of starting from scratch every time, you can use a disciplinary action form to ensure you treat all employees fairly and save a description of the incident for future reference.

Here’s how to create an employee disciplinary action form template, along with some examples of what your disciplinary action form should include.

What Is a Disciplinary Action Form?

A disciplinary action form is used to document an employee’s misconduct or a violation of company policy. Disciplinary action is a type of corrective action, but the focus is on an employee’s behavior, rather than more general workplace incidents.

Types of disciplinary action include:

  • A verbal warning: This is usually the first step in the disciplinary process, and should be used for first-time violations and minor employee misconduct. Although you don’t need to fill out an employee discipline form to give a verbal reprimand, you should still keep a record of the date and time of the warning.
  • A written warning: Provide written notice of disciplinary action for serious or repeat violations, such as inappropriate conduct. Highlight ways the employee can address the behavior and what steps will be taken if they don’t.
  • Suspension or termination: The next step in the employee disciplinary process is suspension or termination. In serious cases, you can move right to this stage of process without providing an employee warning notice first.
  • A performance improvement plan (PIP): Consider a performance improvement plan for recurring violations that don’t require escalation. For example, tardiness or poor performance can often be handled through performance management rather than filling out a disciplinary action or corrective action form.

The appropriate course of action will depend on the type of violation. Some of the most common workplace discipline issues include:

  • Dress code violations
  • Safety violations
  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Inappropriate conduct
  • Poor performance

Even violations that seem minor could turn into serious issues if unaddressed. Using a disciplinary action form will allow you to point out policy violations in a fair way so employees take your concerns seriously.

5 Reasons to Use Disciplinary Action Forms

Disciplinary action form: manager scolding his employee

Disciplinary action forms can seem like an overly formal way to handle problems in the workplace, especially if you have good employee relations to begin with. But the real purpose of disciplinary action forms goes beyond the immediate incident.

Here are three reasons why it’s important to use disciplinary action forms, even when the issue can be resolved agreeably:

Implement Consistent Standards

First, disciplinary action forms allow you to implement consistent standards across your organization and ensure that all of your employees are treated fairly. If one employee is disciplined for a dress code violation and another is not, it could result in the perception of bias or favoritism, whether or not it’s warranted.

By providing all managers with the same standardized forms, you’ll reduce the risk of missteps in the employee discipline process.

Identify a Pattern of Transgressions

Supervisors may come and go, and the larger the company, the more likely it is that an employee will move from one department to another over time. Maintaining a record of disciplinary actions ensures that an employee’s history will be taken into account when they start a new role or pursue a promotion.

This doesn’t mean that an employee with a disciplinary record should be excluded from career opportunities, but you’ll be better able to identify patterns of behavior and make sure that subsequent managers are aware of any ongoing concerns.

Provide a Way to Remedy the Situation

Disciplinary action isn’t meant to be punitive, and your disciplinary action forms should include recommendations on how the employee can alter their behavior to better align with company policy. When possible, give the employee an opportunity to implement these changes before immediately escalating the issue.

In the case of a workplace safety violation, the goal is to address the unsafe behavior going forward so that the employee and their colleagues aren’t at risk. Providing the employee with additional training or mentorship could remedy the situation.

Document Evidence in a Dispute

Disciplinary action forms serve as a formal record in more serious situations, such as a wrongful termination suit. If an employee claims that you fired them unlawfully, or that they were discriminated against, such forms can serve as evidence that there was in fact a serious and recurring disciplinary issue.

Documenting the disciplinary process shows that you took appropriate steps to inform them about the issue and gave them sufficient opportunity to make amends.

Escalate When Necessary

Your employee handbook should outline the steps in the employee disciplinary process, from a verbal warning all the way through to suspension and termination. In cases of inappropriate conduct or illegal behavior, you may need to skip the verbal or written warning and take more serious steps right away.

Filling out a disciplinary action form allows you to escalate the situation and alert the human resources team to ensure that proper procedures are followed.

What Your Disciplinary Action Form Should Include

Employee holding a pen while looking at her laptop

Your disciplinary action form should include basic information about the employee’s role and job description, as well as specific details about the incident in question. For more complex cases, you can attach some or all of the following:

  • A witness statement
  • An employee statement
  • A record of previous violations
  • Next steps or corrective actions

You can use the following disciplinary action form template as a starting point.

Employee Disciplinary Action Form Example

Name of the Employee:

Date of Notice:

Job Title:


Date of violation:

Type of violation:

  • Dress code violation
  • Safety violation
  • Tardiness
  • Absenteeism
  • Inappropriate conduct
  • Poor work quality

Description of incident:

Follow-up actions:

Employee comments:

Signature of the employee:

Employee signature date:

Employee Disciplinary Action Form Best Practices

You can reduce the need for disciplinary action forms by having clear company policies outlined in your employee handbook. That way, employees will know what’s expected of them when they show up to work. But sometimes disciplinary action is inevitable. Here are three best practices to keep in mind when incidents arise:

Be Specific

Your completed form should be as detailed as possible about the incident in question. Don’t simply check the box for “tardiness” or “dress code violation”. How late was the employee? When and where did the dress code incident occur?

The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to review the form and determine if the employee’s behavior has changed or if it continues to be an issue.

Request a Signature

Ideally, the employee will sign the disciplinary action form and agree to take appropriate follow-up actions. But in some cases, they may dispute the written version of events, or disagree that they violated company policy at all.

Consider allowing the employee to attach a rebuttal of their own, or to acknowledge that they received a copy of the document without agreeing to its veracity.

Keep It Confidential

Finally, disciplinary action should be a private affair, involving only the employee, their supervisor, and, if necessary, the HR department. No one else needs to be told about the disciplinary action unless they’re being called upon as a witness.

By digitizing the process, you can ensure that all disciplinary action forms are handled securely and stored in the cloud as part of the employee’s file.

Streamline Your Disciplinary Action 

Manager and an employee using a tablet

Disciplinary action forms are used to standardize the employee disciplinary process and ensure that your policies are applied fairly and consistently. You can use them for dress code violations, workplace safety violations, and more serious forms of misconduct. By keeping an accurate record of disciplinary actions, you’ll reduce the risk of compliance issues, and provide employees with the opportunity to improve their behavior.

Pulpstream is a cloud-based platform that helps you digitize and automate processes of all kinds, from workplace safety audits to absence management. Our no-code platform allows you to automate key parts of the process, ensuring that your company policies are applied consistently, and that employee data is stored safely and securely.

Request a demo today to see what else Pulpstream can do!