When you need to let an employee go and terminate your employment agreement, you use a termination letter. This is a formal way to help employees understand the reasons behind their firing. Typically, you will have the chance in the letter to provide evidence to back up your decision. It may also include details on what next steps the employee should take.
This type of letter is nice for a situation where the separation from an employee may be difficult or complex. It can make a bad situation easier on everyone. However, if the termination letter you create is not straightforward and detailed, it could derail your good intentions. A poorly composed message could end up confusing the employee and causing further issues.
This is why you have to be sure your letter is well-written and uses clear language. A surefire way to help you write a good document is to look at examples. Our termination letter templates, along with the writing tips below, are great guides that show you exactly what to write and how to get your point across clearly.
Termination Letter Templates
Contract Termination Letter
Ending a contract is difficult due to the legal issues involved. You want to word the letter properly so it follows the contract’s guidelines for termination. Writing a contract termination letter also requires care to ensure the intent is clear. You can use our termination letter templates to help you craft a solid message.
Lease Termination Letter
A lease termination letter allows you to end a lease you may have with a renter. The lease is a contract, so you must follow the rules under the lease for termination while writing the content of this document. To help make it easier, you should consult our termination letter templates.
Letter of Termination of Employment Without Cause
Most employment agreements are at-will, meaning they can end at any time for any reason or for no reason. When you create a letter to terminate an employee without cause, it should focus on explaining why the employment is ending and what are the next steps the employee should take. You can refer to the termination letter templates for help.
Termination Letter for Poor Performance
When an employee fails to meet expectations and you must let him or her go due to poor performance, it helps to write a letter that provides proof backing up your claims. This will help to avoid objections or issues with the employee later. Use the termination letter templates to assist you as you write.
Termination Letter Writing Etiquette
1. Keep emotions in check
Terminating an employee can be an emotion-filled process. Perhaps you have had clashes in the past or know this person is very confrontational. Whatever is happening, it is important that you keep your letter to the point and avoid injecting emotion. Stick to the facts and do not mention personal opinions. Filling a letter with emotions will not help the situation and could defeat the whole purpose of the communication. It could also cause tempers to boil over, producing an upsetting scene when you deliver the letter.
2. State the reason for dismissal in clear terms
The main point of a termination letter is to give the reason for termination. This should go front and center in the document and serve as the basis for everything else. Whatever you say in this letter should relate directly back to the reason given for the termination. This makes it clear what is happening and why the person is being let go, leaving no room for objections or negotiations. If you present your case and back it up with evidence, it makes it easier for the person to understand your stance and harder to start a fight over the details.
3. Include the date of termination
You want to make sure to include specifics in the letter. This means stating the termination date. Do not leave room for employees to say they were confused or didn’t understand when their termination was effective. Make sure to put the date in a prominent place where it is clear what it is. Remember, the whole goal of the letter is to fire the employee, but that is difficult to do when someone has no clue when his or her employment ends.
4. Provide follow-up instructions to wrap up loose ends
Ending an employment relationship is not always easy, especially if the employee has been with the company for a while. You should include details about what the employee needs to do next. This includes things like returning company property, collecting the last pay and completing any required paperwork. If the employee can appeal, provide information about that as well. You do not want to leave the employee with questions. Clearly lay out everything in the letter to make the process as smooth as possible. Look to the termination letter templates for ideas on how to do this.
5. Maintain professionalism
It is all too easy to get angry or upset in a termination situation. However, writing this letter in a professional manner is essential. If you stray into areas where you seem combative, it could reflect badly on you and the company. You want any parting of ways to be quick and clean. Keep all wording professional and ensure your letter is something that will not put you or the company in a bad light.
6. Attach any supporting documentation
If you have mentioned previous disciplinary action, consider attaching documentation to back it up or provide any extra documentation to explain your decision. You want to make it perfectly clear to the employee why you must let him or her go. The employee has the right to ask questions and ask for proof of what you say in the letter, so make it easy on everyone by including this proof with the letter.
7. Talk with the employee first before sending the letter
Just handing over a termination letter is not likely to end well. You need to sit down with the employee and explain what is going on. The letter should serve as backup and documentation of what you tell the employee. It is a written record of the decision. If you simply deliver a letter without context, you are more likely to have an angry and upset employee in your office demanding an explanation. This kind of scene is best avoided by having a discussion first, followed by the letter.
8. Have someone else proofread the letter for tone and completeness
You are very close to the situation when writing such a letter, so it is helpful to have someone else weigh in. Have an individual who is not involved in the situation read over the letter for completeness and professionalism and to check for errors. This person can tell you if something doesn’t make sense or if you have included things that are not necessary. An uninvolved party can also recognize if your tone comes across as something less than professional.
9. Stick to the facts and avoid embellishment
You want to avoid distracting from your message with opinions or off-topic chatter. Everything in the letter should directly relate to why this employee is being let go. As you review what you wrote, check that there is nothing off-topic. Make sure everything you say is a fact and that you back up each fact with solid evidence. You do not want to give the employee the chance to object or rebut anything said, especially if it is not directly related to the termination.
10. Connect with legal counsel
It is probably best in all cases to have a legal expert look over the letter. This is especially true if the termination will end a contract. Legal counsel can help to ensure you are staying within the boundaries of the law while also making suggestions to strengthen your letter and the overall case for termination. This can help you to avoid trouble in the future with the terminated employee, too.