When an employee is let go, it’s only natural that you’ll want to tell them the news in person. Just as important, though, is providing written confirmation. Termination letters to employees offer a chance to set down the important details a departing employee needs to know—but getting the tone right can be tricky. It’s all too easy to go into unnecessary detail or, worse, avoid uncomfortable truths.
How to Write a Termination Letter to Employees
A termination letter has several functions. Firstly, you’re letting an employee know the reasons why they have been terminated. Often this news can be easier to digest when written down. Secondly, you are giving an employee confirmation of the timings and procedure for their departure.
However, just as important is the role that a termination letter in staying compliant. The letter offers proof that you have followed correct procedures and not been discriminatory. As such, in addition to sending the letter you’ll need to retain copies for your own files.
Remember—writing a termination letter is just one of the steps you need to take when terminating an employee. For more details on the other required steps, use our Terminating Employee Checklist.
What a Termination of Employment Letter Needs to Include
Let’s run through the key elements of a termination letter.
- Date of Termination
It may seem obvious, but it can be forgotten. State the exact date and time that an employee’s employment will cease.
- Reason for Termination
This is the most important section of the letter. Lay out clearly the reasoning behind the employee’s termination. If it’s simply a matter of poor performance, refer to their failure to meet the demands of their performance improvement plan. Try to avoid generalizations. Instead, list specific examples of poor conduct or performance. At the same time, there is no need to over-explain or to add personal commentary. Speak for the company, rather than as an individual.
- Exit Interview
If possible, schedule an exit interview as close as possible to the end of the employee’s final day. This is an opportunity to learn how the employee feels about their time at the company, and what could’ve gone differently. The aim is to gather actionable insights from candid feedback that can be used to affect company policy going forward and boost retention rates. To know what to ask, read our exit interview questions checklist.
- Any Next Steps
Depending on the employee’s role, they may have company property—like a computer, phone or building pass—to return. Make sure they know this must be returned, and to where they have to return it. If there are any other steps required of an employee, they should also be listed. You may wish to inform the employee about when they can expect their final paycheck—this should be compliant with the final paycheck laws in your state.
- Contact Details
A departing employee is likely to have questions, either about the termination itself or simply of logistics. Remember to include the contact details of an Office Manager or HR Representative to whom the departing employee can reach out.
Sample Termination Letter
Writing a termination letter can be tough—but you can’t afford to make mistakes. To help businesses Paycor is offering a free Termination Letter template. Once downloaded, this can be customized to the needs of your organization.