How To Write A Good Query Letter | 15 Simple Steps with Samples

Before issuing an employee query letter, make sure that you document other progressive warnings. If an employee fails to adhere to the prior warnings, a written query letter is the final step before firing the employee.

Verbal warnings or performance reviews should be written. An employee handbook that details the disciplinary actions taken in case of a breach should be easily accessible to the employees. If the company is an SME, proper work behavior should be written, and the consequence of breaching the company’s policies.

An employee query letter is the best form of communication if the prior warnings are futile. The employee may need to understand the implications of the verbal warnings. The misunderstanding is often because of the choice of words and the tone of voice.

Read more: Reprimands can help Employees Improve Performance.

Is a Warning Letter Considered an Aspect of Corrective Action?


But then, employers must ensure that the procedure is fair to the employee. Failure to adhere to the rules of natural justice may attract a lawsuit to employers.

A verbal warning proceeds minor misconduct before a warning letter is issued. However, serious offenses such as criminal acts, theft, and sexual harassment are immediately investigated.

The employment declaration, national legislative Acts, and the company’s Employment handbook protect employees from unfair disciplinary actions. The main disciplinary aim is not just punitive. Its main purpose is to ensure that certain standards and procedures are maintained.


  • Different solutions should be offered for consideration.
  • The employee query letter should be removed after a certain period of time.
  • An internal mechanism for settling disputes should be considered.

See Also: How to Handle a Data Breach of Employee Information

What are the Step-by-Step Procedures in Writing an Employee Query Letter?

1. Employee’s Address

It should be written a line or two after the employer’s address. It is placed to the left.

2. Date

Indicate the date of writing the employee query letter after the employee’s address. The date is also written 1 or 2 below the employee’s address.

3. Title

The title should be crisp and clear. Verify the intended recipient and the reason for writing the letter.

4. Salutation

Keep the salutation formal. Dear Mr./ Mrs.…

5. Opening Paragraph

Be straightforward. Mention the specifics in the first sentence. Be clear and precise when detailing the violations.

 State why the situation is a breach of the company policy. Support your statements with the company’s constitution. Then identify yourself and your competence as one issuing the letter.

The employee query letter should be O.B.J.E.C.T.I.V.E.

Center on the policy violation. Avoid general accusations such as harassment or discrimination. They suggest verdicts.

An employee should not feel that the letter is subjective by focusing on emotions.

Be factual by adding the date when the event took place. Write in a professional tone. Because you will keep an employee query letter for future reference, be particular with information.

You can also include other previous warnings issued to the employee if they are recent and connected to the event in question.

6. Body

Write on the disciplinary action needed. Also, give a timeframe needed for improvement. Resolving the conflict should consider the interests of both the employer and the employee.

A verbal warning is, therefore, important in drawing mutual interest. An employer can understand the motives of the employee.

7. Final Paragraph

It is more like a call to action. This paragraph lists the steps you would like the employee to take. It also lists the consequences of failing to correct wrongful actions.

Thoroughly mention the effects if an employee fails to correct their behavior. The time given to correct the behavior should be sufficient.

8. Closing

Be optimistic by showing that the time given is sufficient for change. Also, reinforce on the employee’s invaluable essence to the company.

9. Your Name and Signature

A handwritten signature is the best. You will have to duplicate the signature.

The core function of an employee’s signature is to indicate that the employee has received the warning letter. It is not an acknowledgment of their breach.

 The proof of issuing the employee query letter can be by attaching it to their email. You can also choose to have a credible witness when issuing the employee query letter. If the employee is a member of a representative union, include the representative’s signature. 

See Also: Six Ways To Boost Productive Output Of Employees

 10. Proofread the Employee Query Letter

Typos in the query letter dim your professional nature. Proofread your work to make sure that everything is in check.

Seek an attorney’s legal advice before taking any disciplinary actions. Different employment laws apply in different states.

12. Handling an Unfair Warning Letter

Do not sign an employee query letter you consider unfair or arbitrary. Voice your concerns to your employer regarding the employee query letter. Clearly explain the reasons why you disagree with the employee query letter.

Write a letter that supports your argument by stating that your conduct was in line with the company policy. Be specific on the conduct in question.

 Also, review an employee handbook for any fairer disciplinary actions before handing your letter to your supervisor.

13. Samples of Employee Query Letters

Sample 1

Disciplinary Warning Letter


Henry Tyson

34-H, first floor

Potter’s building


27th June 2011

Dear Mr. Tyson

Subject: Disciplinary warning letter

This letter is to bring to your attention that many unsatisfactory aspects have been noticed in your work performance and overall behavior in office. The most striking factor was your absence from office on 5 occasions in a span of one month. Moreover, you have been found to submit work reports quite late which cannot be accepted in any way.

You can consider this as the last and formal warning from my side, after which we would be forced to make a difficult decision in the favor of the office. If you are facing any kind of difficulty which you would like to talk about or discuss, then you are completely welcomed to do so.

But there is no place for any misbehavior of any kind in our company, so please take notice of that.

Yours sincerely

Mark Benton

San Francisco Campus

Sample Letter 2


Non-Senate Academic Appointees

Written Warning

This Written Warning confirms our discussion on ____ (date) _______ and is being issued to you regarding (state reason(s), e.g., misconduct, unsatisfactory work performance, dereliction of duty, etc.)

(Describe the incident(s) prompting this letter, giving brief details and examples.  Example:  Since our discussion on __ (date) ___ you have continued to …….. , or, Recently you failed to ……..)

The reasons you have given are that (state employee’s reasons).  These are unacceptable reasons and do not excuse your (state problem).  In short, your (state problem) continues.

On __ (date) ___ you were counseled (verbally and/or in writing) by (person’s name) that (state reasons).  At that time you were made aware that I expected you to (state method of correction).  I further indicated that I would continue to review your (state situation) for improvement.

(Optional, if appropriate:  If you are experiencing problems of a nature that may be amenable to assistance by the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP), you may contact that office at 476-8279.  Your participation is voluntary and the services are provided on a confidential basis. A list of the services provided is available at

It is imperative you understand that failure to show immediate and sustained improvement in your (problem) will result in further disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from your employment with the University.  If you have any questions regarding this letter or the specific expectations as attached, please let me know immediately.

Supervisor’s Signature

cc:           Department Personnel File

                Department Chair

                Vice Provost Academic Affairs

bcc:        Academic Personnel Office, Box 0401

Department Guidelines:

  • Review Academic Personnel Manual (APM) 150 – Corrective Action and Dismissal prior to proceeding.
  • Written warning is a corrective action that informs the appointee of the nature of the misconduct or deficiency, the method of correction, and the probable consequence of continued misconduct or deficiency.
  • Discussion with appointee must take place prior to issuing the letter.  Provide examples of deficiencies/problems.  Be specific.  Advise appointee that the discussion will be followed up in writing.
  • Consult with the Associate/Vice Dean for Academic Affairs within your school for guidance.

Sample Letter 3

Advance warning of redundancy to an employee whose post is at risk of redundancy

From department to employee


Dear [employee]

Thank you for coming to the meeting on [date].  This letter is to confirm the position we discussed.

At our meeting, I gave you an advanced warning that you are at risk of dismissal on grounds of redundancy. This situation has arisen through no fault of your own but has come about because [summarize the reasons for the planned staff reductions and why this member of staff is included in the at-risk pool].

In these circumstances you may, if you wish, pursue alternative options.

Voluntary severance. If you choose to do so, and if your application is accepted, I can confirm that you will be eligible to leave under the University’s scheme of enhanced severance terms, a copy of which is enclosed.  The option to apply to leave under this scheme remains open to you at any time during this ‘advance warning’ period, which will continue, if necessary until [date]. I must stress, however, that a resignation submitted on this basis will not be effective until it has been formally accepted by the department.

Redeployment. You may wish to look for alternative employment within the University.  If this is the case, we will, of course, make all reasonable efforts to help you to find suitable alternative work within this department.  There is, however, no guarantee that these efforts will have a successful outcome and you should, therefore, give consideration to pursuing possible alternative employment elsewhere within the University. 

If you do wish to pursue suitable alternative employment within the University, please sign and return the enclosed letter (A6) to me by [date – normally two weeks after the date of this letter]. I will then arrange for a nominated facilitator to support you through the redeployment procedures and will also confirm that you will be able to apply as a priority candidate for vacancies at the University.  The nominated facilitator will be able to draw your attention to other possible support that you may consider, such as careers advice and the staff counselling service.

I appreciate you may not wish to be considered for suitable alternative employment within the University.  If this is the case, I should be grateful if you could sign and return the enclosed letter (A5) to me by [date – normally two weeks after the date of this letter].

You are welcome, if you wish, to ask a union representative or colleague of your choice from within the University to accompany you to any future meetings to discuss possible further employment.

I must advise you that, if you do not choose to apply for voluntary severance and it is not possible to find suitable alternative employment within the University, it may become necessary to invoke the procedures which could lead to the termination of your employment on grounds of redundancy.  In this case, you will be issued a separate letter confirming that your employment is to be terminated and advising you of your entitlement to notice and statutory redundancy pay.  Please note that unless and until you receive such a letter, no final decision has been made on continuing your employment with the University.

I hope that this information is clear, but if you have any questions, or you would like to discuss the situation again, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I will in any case make sure that you are kept informed of any developments.

Yours sincerely,

[Departmental administrator]

Enclosures:         enhanced severance terms [as agreed with HR Business Partner]

                                pro forma letter A5

                                pro forma letter A6

[N.B.  A signed and dated copy of this letter should be retained on file.]

Sample Letter 4

Employee Absence Warning Letter

Dear Ms Brown:

 Re: Written Warning

On [insert date], you failed to report for your scheduled shift at 9 a.m. You did not notify your manager of your absence in advance. Furthermore, upon your return to work on [insert return date], you failed to provide a justifiable excuse for your absence or your failure to notify your manager in advance. This conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by ABC Organization.

A review of your record indicates that you have failed to report to work without notice or justifiable excuse on several occasions in the past. In the past 12 months alone, you were absent in this manner on [x] other occasions. These absences were on [insert date] and [insert date]. On both of those occasions, you were given verbal warnings and directed to notify your manager in advance of every absence.

In light of the foregoing, we have no choice but to issue this written warning. We trust that this discipline will ensure that you correct your behaviour in the future.

However, please note that if you engage in further misconduct of any kind, you may be subject to more severe discipline, up to and including suspensions and dismissal.

ABC Inc.

c.c. Personnel File

Sample Letter 5


To: [Employee Name]

Date: ___________________

You are receiving this First Written Warning as a result of the issue(s) described below. Please be aware that this is the first step in [Name of Company]’s progressive discipline process. We trust that you will correct this matter by improving your performance of your job and/or refraining from the act or omission that has led to this First Warning Notice. Failure to make appropriate corrections will lead to further discipline, up to and including discharge.


  • Poor Work Performance
  • Tardiness
  • Insubordination
  • Improper Conduct
  • Safety Violation
  • Refusal to Work Overtime
  • Abuse of Leave
  • Misuse of Email or Telephone
  • Property Damage
  • Failure to Comply with Company Policy
  • Absenteeism
  • Substance use of abuse

             Other _______________________________________________________

Date, Time and Location of Infraction ______________________________________________


             You must comply with the attached Performance Improvement Plan (check if applicable)

Supervisor/Manager’s Name: _________________________

Title: ____________________________________________


Supervisor/Manager’s Signature

Date: __________________

Employee’s Name:                                                            __________________

I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the foregoing First Written Warning and that I have had an opportunity to discuss it with my supervisor or a designated manager.


Employee’s Signature

FAQs about an Employee Warning Letter

What is a warning letter from HR to employee?

An employee query letter is a formal notice issued to an employee breaching a company policy. It is also issued if the employee contradicts other employment policies.

What is a formal written warning for employee?

The letter is issued by a manager who reproves a behavior by the employee. It is the ultimate warning issued to an employee before further disciplinary action is taken if the employee fails to follow the warning.

How long is a written warning valid for?

6 months.

What are the key points to include when writing an employee Query letter?

Describe the offence the employee has committed.
• Mention the company policy that has been breached.
• Describe actions the employee can take to mend the situation.
• Deliver the warning letter immediately an offence is committed.
• Summon the employee when giving the warning letter.      


The table below summarises what we should and should not find in your employee’s query letter. This can guide you to write one in less time.

Have the correct letter structureBe emotional
Be conciseMaking unproven claims
Include disciplinary actionsHaving typing errors.



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