Sample Termination Letter – How to Write an Effective Letter of Termination

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Termination Letter

Unfortunately, at some point most supervisors will find the need to write a letter of termination for an employee who is not meeting expectations or who has violated the company code of conduct.

There are a few factors to take into consideration before you begin to write a termination letter. First,  consult your company’s employee handbook in all cases to confirm any violation of company policies. Then think about whether the action is severe enough to warrant termination.  You’ll also want to consider how you have handled similar breaches of policy or poor conduct in the workplace in order to ensure that your disciplinary approach is consistent and fair.

Before you begin writing your sample termination letter, it’s important to speak to the employee if possible in order to be sure that you give your employee an opportunity to explain their behavior.  This is also the time to speak with other employees if  the behavior has impacted others, and in order to obtain all of the facts about the situation.

However, if after a discussion and investigation, it’s clear that your employee has breached policy in a way that requires immediate termination, then you will need to proceed with the next step.

There are many ways to write a termination letter, but the most effective letter succinctly summarizes the reason for the termination.  A termination letter should include not only the reason for the termination, but:

  • Dates that you may have discussed any concerns with the offending employee leading up to the termination
  • Actual date of termination
  • Whom to contact with additional transition questions

The general tone of the letter should remain fairly neutral and factual, as well as be as clear, yet succinct as possible.  A termination letter should not be more than a few paragraphs and certainly not more than one page.  Just state the facts and don’t include your personal opinions about the employee’s judgment or character.

If you are terminating an employee in the U.S., be mindful of the fact that some states require that you give the terminated employee their last paycheck will all pay due the employee to date at the time of termination.  Some states require that you also pay out any unused vacation time.  Be sure to check the Department of Labor for your state to be sure that you are not in violation of any federal or state policies.

If you can, consult with an HR professional or employment lawyer; or take advantage of low cost resources such as articles and books on termination of employees.

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Dianne Shaddock

President and Founder at Easy Small Business HR
Get more tips on interviewing, hiring, managing and engaging your employees. Dianne Shaddock is the President of Easy Small Business HR, Employee Hiring and Managing Tips and the author of the eGuides, "How To Supervise:  What Your Boss Never Told You Before You Took the Job", A Step-By-Step Guide For New and Seasoned Managers and How To Find and Hire the Best Employees.

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