Sample Termination Letter During Probation Period: Free & Effective

As a small business owner, I’ve navigated the difficult process of terminating employees during probation, even friends. I offer a step-by-step guide and template to assist others in this challenging task.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Understanding the Legal Aspects: Know the legalities involved in terminating an employee during the probation period.
  2. Maintaining Professionalism: Keep the letter professional, even if terminating a friend.
  3. Clear Communication: Clearly state the reasons for termination.
  4. Template Use: Utilize the provided template for consistency and legal compliance.
  5. Positive Closure: End on a positive note to maintain good relationships.

Understanding the Legal Aspects

First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand the legalities involved. Probation periods allow both the employer and employee to evaluate suitability. 

However, employment laws vary by location, so it’s essential to be aware of your legal obligations.

List of Legal Considerations:

  • Probation Period Terms: Defined in the employment contract.
  • Local Employment Laws: Check your state or country’s laws.
  • Reason for Termination: Ensure it’s legally sound and non-discriminatory.

Maintaining Professionalism with Friends

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When the employee is a friend, the situation becomes more delicate. It’s important to maintain professionalism.

Steps to Maintain Professionalism:

  1. Separate Personal from Professional: Be clear that the decision is business-related.
  2. Private Discussion: Talk to them privately before sending the letter.
  3. Empathy: Show understanding but remain firm in your decision.

Clear Communication

The termination letter should clearly state the reasons for termination. Be specific about any performance issues or mismatches in job expectations.

Key Points to Include in the Letter:

  • Reason for Termination: Specific reasons for the decision.
  • Probation Period Terms: Reference the terms as stated in the contract.
  • Final Pay and Benefits: Information about their last paycheck and any benefits.

Template for Termination Letter

Below is a template to guide you through drafting the letter:

[Your Company Letterhead]

Date: [Date]

To [Employee’s Name]:

Subject: Termination of Employment

Dear [Employee’s Name],

This letter confirms our discussion today regarding your employment with [Your Company Name]. As discussed, your employment is terminated, effective [Termination Date], due to [Reason for Termination].

Your performance has been evaluated against the terms outlined in your employment contract dated [Contract Date]. Unfortunately, [Specific Reasons for Non-Compliance with the Probation Terms].

We will process your final paycheck, which will be disbursed on [Date]. [Include any information about benefits, like health insurance or unused vacation pay].

We appreciate your efforts during your time with us and wish you the best in your future endeavors.


[Your Name and Title]

Positive Closure

Ending on a positive note is essential, especially when terminating a friend. Offer to provide a reference if appropriate, and express your best wishes for their future.


Terminating an employee during their probation period is a difficult but sometimes necessary part of being a business owner. Following these steps can help ensure the process is handled professionally and compassionately.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A middle-aged Hispanic woman in business casual attire

Q: What is a Termination Letter During Probation Period?

Answer: A termination letter during a probationary period is a formal document given by an employer to an employee. It informs the employee that their employment is being terminated during their probationary period. 

In my experience, these letters usually state the reason for termination, the last day of work, and any company procedures that need to be followed. 

It’s a formal way to end an employment relationship when an employee doesn’t meet the required standards during their trial period.

Q: Can I be fired without a reason during my probation?

Answer: Yes, generally during a probationary period, either the employer or the employee can end employment without a long notice period or a detailed reason. 

However, in my case, I found that the reason for termination, even if brief, was usually mentioned in the letter. It’s important to note that the termination must still be lawful and cannot be for discriminatory reasons.

Q: How much notice am I entitled to if I am terminated during probation?

Answer: This depends on your employment contract and local labor laws. In my experience, the notice period during probation is often shorter than after the probation period. 

For instance, I was entitled to only one week’s notice, whereas the standard notice period after probation was a month.

Q: Should I receive feedback about my performance before being terminated?

Answer: Ideally, yes. Good practice suggests that employers should provide regular feedback during probation. In my case, I received feedback during scheduled reviews. 

However, not all companies have structured feedback processes, and it’s not legally required in all jurisdictions.

Q: Can I dispute a termination letter during my probationary period?

Answer: Yes, you can dispute it, especially if you believe the termination is unjust or unlawful. In my experience, it’s best to first discuss your concerns with your employer. 

If unresolved, seeking legal advice or contacting a labor union or employment tribunal may be necessary steps.

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