Letting an employee go is one of the hardest things a manager or HR representative has to do. Maybe the company is downsizing, or maybe the employee’s performance has not been up to par. In any event, it is critical that any termination be handled with sensitivity, compassion, and professionalism to avoid future unpleasant repercussions.
It is common knowledge that employee terminations should be handled in person, at a termination meeting, with a witness present. After the termination meeting, though, it is helpful to give the employee a termination letter, explaining the details of the situation and the employee’s benefits. This letter should be handed to the employee at the meeting, or it should be mailed shortly thereafter.
The contents of an employee termination letter vary based on why the employee was fired. If the termination is merely the end of an at-will employment agreement, it is not necessary to detail the reasons for letting the employee go.
If, on the other hand, the employee is being laid off or fired for cause, it is important to include a brief explanation of the reasons for the termination.
Not only will this help a failing employee understand his or her infractions and hopefully correct them in the future, but it will also serve as documentation if a laid off employee applies for unemployment compensation. It is not necessary, however, to include a detailed list of infractions.
A general statement is sufficient when an employee is fired for cause because termination is usually the last step in a lengthy (and hopefully well-documented) disciplinary process.
All letters should include either a statement of the employee’s remaining pay and benefits or reference to a more detailed benefits information package to follow. Here is an example of a simple employee termination letter that is useful in many situations.
Sample Employee Termination Letter
Mr. Aaron Williams
1060 Revello Drive
Madison, WI 53719
Dear Mr. Williams:
This letter confirms our decision pursuant to our discussion today that your employment with State Street Family Chiropractic, Ltd., is terminated effective immediately.
As you have been employed with State Street Family Chiropractic for more than one year, you will receive two weeks’ severance pay, which will be paid to you once you have signed and returned the enclosed Release of Claims document.
Your accrued vacation time will be paid at your current hourly rate and paid with your next pay check at the end of our regular pay period, next Friday, January 18. You may pick up your check in the business office, or if you desire, we can mail it to your home. You will be mailed a separate benefits statement explaining the status of your benefits after termination.
Thank you for returning the company-owned pager and building keys at the termination meeting. Please keep your contact information up to date with the business office so that we can provide you with tax documents when they become available.
Please let us know if we can assist you in any way during your transition.
Practice Manager, State Street Chiropractic, Ltd.
When writing an employee termination letter, remember to keep the letter’s tone professional and polite, but make it clear that the decision is final and non-negotiable.
A good termination letter protects employers from litigation by disgruntled former employees, and it protects employees from liability for loss of company equipment or benefits that are easily overlooked in hectic transitions.
Letting an employee go is never a task that a good manager enjoys, but a well-written letter can make the process smoother and easier for everyone involved.