So schreiben Sie eine professionelle Abmahnung auf Englisch: letter of warning

Business Englisch ist für Sie als Sekretärin ein nötiger Erfolgsfaktor. Doch leider stellen die englische Geschäftskorrespondenz, die Kommunikation am Telefon und die korrekte englische Rechtschreibung eine große Herausforderung für viele dar.

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How to write a letter of warning

Ein bislang guter Mitarbeiter wird auf einmal unzuverlässig und bringt andere dadurch in Schwierigkeiten. Oder eine Mitarbeiterin bleibt öfter zu Hause, ohne eine ärztliche Bescheinigung einzureichen. Beides Fälle für eine Abmahnung. So schreiben Sie eine professionelle Abmahnung auf Englisch. As a general rule, you have to give an employee a warning before he or she can be dismissed. The company’s warning and dismissal rules are written down in the ‘conditions of  employment’ or in the employment contract. There are many reasons for sending a warning – bad performance, harassing, being impolite to customers, sexual discrimination, pilfering company property – to mention only a few.

This is what you have to include in the warning:

  • a clear description of or the reasonfor the reprimand
  • instructions on how the employee is to act in the future
  • the consequences the employee can expect if the situation does not improve
  • an invitation to the employee to respond to the reprimand within a certain period either orally or in writing.

British English

31 August 2006

Private and confidential
Paragon Electronics
Mr Jeff Coors
Sales Africa
Unisa, 0003
Nieu Muckelneuk, Pretoria
South Africa

Dear Mr Coors,

Your attendance record

Over the years we have counted on you as a reliable sales representative.
Recently, however, your attendance record has become increasingly unacceptable.

This is to notify you that as of 1 September you must submit medical certification to support all absences. This restriction will remain in effect for at least six months and until further notice from me.  

You are being placed under this restriction because an analysis of your attendance records for the past three months indicates that some of your
absences may have been unjustified, as you have missed six Fridays and two Mondays.

We feel that we can count on you to remedy this problem.


Yours sincerely

Phillip Goodall
Manager Export Sales

American English

Private and confidential
Ann Lee
BMB Logistics Inc
Quality control
70 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90002

September 14, 2006

Reprimand regarding late reports

Dear Ann:

We notice that your last four progress reports on the logistics realignment were
completed after deadline. This has caused serious problems because we need
to get your reports on time to meet contractual agreements with our clients. As
it was, we nearly lost the ECO follow-up contract due to a late report from you.
Your attitude has become a barrier to others on the team, as they, too, rely on
your prompt delivery to get their work done.

In the past you consistently met your deadlines. I hope you can get back into
that habit. Unfortunately, if one more report is late, we will have to place you
on probationary status. If a report is late while you are on probation, we will be
forced to terminate your employment.

Until further notice I will expect an update on your reporting procedures every
Friday. Let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you in completing your
reports on time.



Wilfried Senger
Export Sales North America



Here are some useful phrases for writing a professional letter of warning

Giving reasons

  • Over the years we have come to rely on you as a valuable employee. Recently, however, it hasbeen brought to our attentionthat you have missed 21 working hours in one month withoutpermission from your supervisor. Surely there must be an explanation for this unacceptable behaviour.
  •  Unfortunately we have good reason to believe that you have accessed sensitive information to which you have no right.
  • We have been notified that on 11 August you were caught stealing goods from the warehouse.
  • We regret to inform you that we have received several complaints lately from customers about your service. The complaints were as follows: ...
  • This is to inform you that numerous staff members have complained about your smoking in non-smoking areas.
  • I am afraid that your work (in the purchasing department / on the research project) leaves much to be desired.

Saying what the employee should do

  • Until further notice, we will expect you to report to the personnel department on a monthly basis.  
  • We expect you to stop using the internet for your personal use.
  • Please think the matter over carefully and let us know how you plan to improve the situation.
  • If you have to leave the premises for any reason, you may not do so without getting permission in advance from your boss.

Explaining the consequences

  • Please make sure to rectify the situation in order not to further endanger your job security.
  • Should we receive any further complaints, we shall be forced to terminate your contract without further notice.
  • We are placing you on probationary status. Unless this behaviour improves immediately, we will have to let you go.

The right to respond

  • You are invited to respond to this letter – orally or in writing – within 8 days.
  • You may comment on this letter within 7 days.
  • We are giving you 6 days to respond to this letter, after which we will be forced to take the described action.

Finishing off

  • I am sure you will appreciate the seriousness of the matter. If you have any questions, please contact me immediately.
  • We feel that we can count on you to resolve this issue.


Use this checklist next time you have to write  a letter of warning.

The employee shoud know exactly why he or she is receiving the letter and what to do next. You should tell the employee what he or she has to do to improve the situation and what the consequences are if there is no improvement. Finally, you must give the employee time to comment on the complaints. Use this checklist to make sure you have included all the relevant information and that your letter has the right tone – polite, professional and unambiguous.

Have you stated the reason for the reprimand?

Have you said what the employee is expected to do?

Have you described the consequences?

Have you given the employee some time to respond to the reprimand?

Is the tone of the letter polite but firm and unambiguous?

Test your skills – insert the  missing words in these  sentences to make professional letters of warning:

1  I am ………….. that your work leaves much to be ……………. .

2  Until further …………… we expect you to report to the personnel  department on a monthly ……… .

3  I am sure you will understand the …………… of the situation.

4  We know we can ……………. on you to ……………… this matter.


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1 afraid, desired 2 notice, basis, 3 seriousness, 4 count, resolve