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How to Write a Termination Letter (With Templates)

By Priya Jain

Published:

A termination letter is a formal notification from an employer to an employee, indicating their dismissal from the job. This letter serves as an official record of dismissal and includes reasons for dismissal, information about benefits or severance pay, the date of the final paycheck, and other relevant termination details.

Whether you’re a human resource (HR) professional or a senior executive, knowing how to write a termination letter can help issue one when needed. In this article, we explore the purpose of a termination letter and its various types and provide a termination letter template.

The Purpose of Termination Letters

The purpose of termination letters is multifaceted, serving both legal and professional functions within the context of ending an employment relationship.

Key purposes include:

Closure

Termination letters provide a formal conclusion to the employment relationship. This helps both the employer and the employee move on emotionally and professionally. The letter marks the end of an employee’s journey with the company, offering a clear point of closure.

By clearly stating the reasons and the effective termination date, these letters help reduce any uncertainty or ambiguity about the employment status, making it easier for the employee to plan their next steps.

Providing a termination letter demonstrates professional respect and courtesy towards the employee, formally acknowledging their service’s end.

Legal Protection

Termination letters serve as a key legal document that can protect the company in case of disputes or legal challenges from the employee. Clearly outlining the reasons for termination and its process minimizes the risk of wrongful termination lawsuits.

In the event of litigation, the termination letter can be presented as evidence to show that the employer followed due process and had valid reasons for the termination.

These letters help ensure the termination process aligns with relevant labor laws and regulations, protecting the employer from potential non-compliance penalties.

Documentation and Record Keeping

Termination letters act as an official record of an employee’s dismissal. This is important for maintaining accurate and up-to-date HR records.

They provide a concise summary of the employee’s departure, which can be useful for background checks or when termination details are necessary for future employment considerations.

Types of Termination Letters

There are several types of termination letters, each tailored to different scenarios of ending an employment relationship. Understanding these types helps ensure the appropriate format and content are used for each situation.

Here are some common types:

Voluntary Termination

In a voluntary termination, the employee decides to leave the company. This could be due to personal reasons, professional growth opportunities elsewhere, retirement, or dissatisfaction with the current work environment.

Such letters generally acknowledge the employee’s decision to leave, confirming their final working date and expressing gratitude for their contributions.

Related Article: 2-Week Notice Resignation Letter

Involuntary Termination

The employer initiates involuntary terminations, which can occur for various reasons.

These can include:

  • Performance-Related: Terminations due to poor employee reviews and performance, where the employee may have failed to meet the company’s standards despite feedback and performance improvement plans.
  • Behavioral Issues: Termination due to negative behavior or misconduct in the workplace.
  • Company Policy Violation: This termination occurs when an employee violates company rules and policies.
  • Downsizing or Layoffs: Employees may be laid off during organizational restructuring or financial constraints.

These letters should clearly state the reason for termination, detailing any previous warnings or incidents leading to this decision. They should also include information about final pay, benefits, and instructions regarding the return of company property.

What to Include in a Termination Letter

When writing a termination letter, certain key elements should be included to ensure the letter is clear, professional, and legally compliant.

Here are the important components to include: 

Recipient Information

Start with the full name and job title of the employee. Include the employee ID, department, and manager’s name if applicable. This information usually appears at the top of the letter and serves as the header​​.

Statement of Termination

Directly state that the employee’s employment is being terminated. This statement is the letter’s core and should be clarified at the beginning. It sets the tone and purpose of the letter, ensuring there is no misunderstanding about its intent​​.

Effective Date

Mention the effective date of termination. This is crucial as it marks the official end of the employment relationship. The date should be specific; if the termination is immediate or set for a future date, it should be explicitly stated​​.

Details of Final Compensation

Provide details about the employee’s final paycheck, including when it will be issued and how much it will be. If severance pay is included, specify the amount and any conditions attached. 

Also, include information on any accrued benefits, such as unused vacation or sick days, and how they will be compensated. Details on continuing health insurance benefits should also be included if applicable​​.

Return of Company Property

List any company property the employee is expected to return, such as laptops, phones, key cards, or ID badges. Include specific instructions on how and where to return these items, along with a deadline for their return​​.

Transition Information

Outline the steps the employee should take during the transition period. This may include details on exit interviews, the handover of responsibilities, or how to maintain contact with the company for any post-termination queries. If a notice period is given, mention the date it was provided​​.

Signature and Contact Details of HR Professional

The letter should be signed by someone from HR or a direct supervisor. Including the contact information of a relevant HR professional is important for any follow-up questions or clarifications the employee might have. This adds a personal touch and offers a channel for communication​​​​.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Workplace Offboarding

Termination Letter Templates

Here are three types of termination letter templates to use:

Resignation Acceptance Termination Letter Template

Creating a resignation acceptance termination letter involves several key components to ensure it is professional and comprehensive.

Here’s how to structure such a letter:

[Your Company Letterhead]

[Today’s Date]

[Employee’s Name]
[Employee’s Position]
[Employee’s Department]

Dear [Employee’s Name],

I am writing to confirm the receipt of your resignation letter dated [Employee’s Resignation Date]. We have reviewed your notice and accept your resignation from the position of [Employee’s Position] at [Your Company’s Name], effective [Employee’s Last Working Day].

We want to express our sincere gratitude for the hard work and dedication you have shown during your tenure with us. Your contributions to [mention specific department/project if applicable] have been invaluable, and your colleagues and the management team will greatly miss your presence.

As per your resignation, your final work day will be [Employee’s Last Working Day]. Please ensure that all pending tasks are completed and all company property in your possession, including [list any company items like ID card, laptop, mobile phone], is returned to [Contact Person’s Name and Department] by your last working day.

Your final paycheck, including any outstanding dues and compensation for unused vacation days, will be processed and disbursed on [Date of Final Paycheck]. [Include information about any benefits or insurance if applicable].

We would also like to offer our assistance during your transition. If you require any help or have questions about the offboarding process, please feel free to contact [Contact Person’s Name] in the HR department at [Contact Details].

We appreciate your time with us and wish you success in your future endeavors. If you need a reference or any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you once again for your service to [Your Company’s Name].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Company’s Name]


Termination Letter Template for Unsatisfactory Performance

Creating a termination letter for unsatisfactory performance involves several essential elements to ensure it is clear, professional, and legally sound.

Here’s a template for writing a letter for unsatisfactory performance:

[Your Company’s Letterhead]

[Date]

[Employee’s Name]
[Employee’s Position]
[Employee’s Department]
[Employee’s Address]

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Subject: Termination of Employment

I am writing to inform you that, following a series of performance reviews and discussions, your employment with [Company’s Name] is being terminated due to unsatisfactory performance, effective [Effective Date of Termination].

Despite repeated efforts to support your improvement, including [list any performance improvement plans, training, or warnings], your performance has not met the standards and expectations required for your role, specifically in [mention specific areas of underperformance].

This decision has not been made lightly and follows [detail any formal performance reviews or meetings held with the employee regarding their performance]. It is important to note that we have documented these concerns and your responses in your employee file.

As per our company policy and the terms of your employment, [mention any relevant company policies or terms related to termination due to performance].

You must return all company property, including [list items such as ID card, laptop, mobile phone], to [Contact Person’s Name] in the HR department by your last working day.

Your final paycheck, including accrued benefits [if applicable], will be processed and disbursed on [Date of Final Paycheck]. [Include information about any severance package, if applicable].

We thank you for your efforts and contributions during your tenure with us and wish you the best in your future endeavors. If you have any questions regarding this termination or the next steps, please feel free to contact [Contact Person’s Name] at [Contact Details].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Contact Information]


Termination Letter Template Without Cause

Creating a termination letter without cause involves several key elements to ensure it’s respectful and compliant with legal standards.

Here’s a template to use:

[Your Company’s Letterhead]

[Date]

[Employee’s Name]
[Employee’s Position]
[Employee’s Department]
[Employee’s Address]

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Subject: Notice of Employment Termination

This letter formally announces that your employment with [Company’s Name] will be terminated, effective [Effective Date of Termination]. This decision has been made due to [briefly state reason, e.g., organizational restructuring, downsizing, etc.], and does not reflect your job performance or conduct.

Please be advised that your final paycheck will be issued on [Date of Final Paycheck], including compensation for all worked hours and accrued benefits, as per our company policies. [Include any additional details on severance pay, if applicable].

We request that you return all company property, such as [list items like ID card, laptop, mobile phone], to [Contact Person’s Name and Department] by your last working day.

[Optional: If you are eligible for COBRA continuation group health insurance coverage or have other benefits like retirement savings, please refer to the enclosed documents for more information.]

We would like to express our gratitude for your contributions to the company and wish you success in your future endeavors. An exit interview will be scheduled to facilitate your transition; our HR department will provide details.

If you require a reference or any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your service to [Your Company’s Name].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Contact Information]

Related Article: What Is an Exit Interview? Everything You Need to Know

Best Practices When Using Termination Letter Templates

When using termination letter templates, following these best practices ensures the process is respectful, clear, and legally compliant:

Be Clear and Direct

The letter should clearly state that it is a termination letter and specify the effective termination date. If applicable, provide specific reasons for the termination. This helps the employee understand why the decision was made and can be crucial for legal documentation​​​​.

Express Empathy and Gratitude

Even in termination scenarios, it’s important to acknowledge the employee’s contributions to the company. Use a tone that shows empathy and respect for the employee, recognizing that termination is a difficult experience​​​​.

Offer Support Services

Offer resources or support services, such as job placement assistance or career counseling services, that can help the employee transition out of the company. Clearly outline any benefits or severance pay the employee is entitled to and provide information on how to access these benefits​​​​.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, mention these services in the letter. EAPs can offer counseling and support for employees going through the termination process.

Assure employees that EAP services are confidential and are there to support their well-being​​.

Be Mindful of Sensitive Situations

Customize the termination letter to suit sensitive situations like terminations due to personal reasons or health issues. The language and tone should be carefully considered to avoid insensitivity or legal issues. Ensure that the letter maintains the respect and dignity of the employee, regardless of the reasons for termination​​​​.

Ensure Legal Compliance

Have the termination letter reviewed by legal experts to ensure it complies with employment laws and regulations. Ensure that the letter does not contain language that could lead to legal challenges, such as discriminatory statements or promises not aligned with company policy.

What Not to Include in a Termination Letter

When drafting a termination letter, it’s important to avoid certain elements to ensure the letter remains professional, legal, and respectful.

Here’s what not to include in a termination letter:

Personal Opinions

Personal opinions or subjective language about the employee’s character or work ethic feelings should be excluded. The termination letter is an official document and should be written from an objective standpoint. Personal sentiments can be misinterpreted and may lead to allegations of bias or unprofessional conduct.

Unsubstantiated Statements

If the termination is for cause, ensure that any claims or reasons provided in the letter are supported by documented evidence such as performance reviews or disciplinary records. Unsubstantiated claims can lead to legal challenges or disputes.

Comparisons with Others

Avoid comparing the terminated employee’s performance or behavior with that of other employees. Each termination case should be treated individually based on its own merits. Making comparisons can lead to perceptions of unequal treatment or discrimination, potentially opening the door to legal challenges.

Employee Blame

While it may be necessary to state the reasons for termination, use neutral and respectful language. Direct blame or harsh criticism can be counterproductive and escalate the situation.

Blaming language can be viewed as defamatory or discriminatory, especially if not accurately supported by evidence. This could lead to legal repercussions against the company.


Priya Jain

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