Letters of instruction clarify work rules and expectations. They also inform employees of the potential disciplinary consequences of specific actions (or in some cases, inaction).

Letters of instruction are not disciplinary. Instead, they serve as written documentation of important conversations between supervisors and employees. They only become part of a disciplinary process if an employee does not comply with the expectations outlined in the letter.

Performance-related letters of instruction

When there is concern about an employee’s job performance, a letter of instruction can clarify expectations as part of the performance management process. It would be given to an employee as a follow-up to a meeting where those expectations are discussed. The letter should document position-specific expectations and let an employee know that their continued failure to meet expectations could result in disciplinary action. The letter can also be used to document the training the employee has received and communicate to them that their training period has ended and they are now expected to perform the tasks they’re responsible for.

Conduct-related letters of instruction

A letter of instruction may also be used as a follow-up to a meeting related to work rules and conduct. If an employee is not clear on expectations or how a work rule is applied, discipline may not be appropriate. The letter of instruction can provide this clarification. If the issue comes up again, the letter of instruction becomes important documentation in the disciplinary process.


Sample letter of instruction

View or download a sample letter of instruction.