Unsuccessful Probation Termination Letter: How To Draft It Right!

Drawing on my experience with crafting unsuccessful probation termination letters for both professional and personal advice, I’ll provide a concise guide and template to simplify this complex task.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the importance and sensitivity of writing an unsuccessful probation termination letter.
  • Steps to construct a clear, respectful, and legally compliant termination letter.
  • Tips for maintaining professionalism and empathy throughout the process.
  • Real-life examples to illustrate common scenarios and solutions.
  • Free Template: A template to guide you through your own letter-writing process.

Understanding the Importance

Writing a termination letter at the end of a probationary period is a critical task. It’s not just about ending an employment contract; it’s about doing it in a way that is respectful, clear, and legally sound. This letter can significantly impact the former employee’s future job prospects and your company’s reputation.

1. Begin with a Clear Opening

Start your letter with a straightforward and respectful opening. Address the employee formally, and mention the purpose of the letter immediately.


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“Dear [Employee’s Name], We regret to inform you that your probation period with [Company’s Name] will not be extended.”

2. Provide a Reason for the Termination

Legally and ethically, it’s important to offer a clear reason for the termination. This should be factual and devoid of any emotional language.

Example of Reasons:

  • Inadequate performance despite feedback
  • Failure to meet specific job requirements
  • Incompatibility with company culture

3. Reference Past Feedback and Evaluations

To ensure the decision doesn’t come as a surprise, reference previous evaluations and any feedback provided during the probationary period.


“As discussed in our previous meetings, your performance in [specific areas] has not met the required standards despite the guidance and support provided.”

4. Outline Any Administrative Procedures

Include details about final pay, benefits, and any company property that needs to be returned. This clarity helps with a smooth transition.

List of Administrative Details:

  • Final paycheck date
  • Benefits termination date
  • Return of company property (ID, equipment, etc.)

5. Offer Support for Transition

If possible, offer support like career counseling or a reference for future employment. This shows empathy and maintains a positive relationship.


“We understand this transition may be challenging and are willing to provide a reference letter to aid in your future job endeavors.”

6. Close Professionally

End your letter on a professional note. Wish them well in their future endeavors and thank them for their efforts.


“We thank you for your efforts during your time with us and wish you all the best in your future career.”

Template for Unsuccessful Probation Termination Letter

[Your Company Letterhead]


[Employee’s Name]
[Employee’s Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

Dear [Employee’s Name],

Subject: Termination of Probation Period

I am writing to you regarding the conclusion of your probation period with [Your Company’s Name]. After careful consideration and review, we regret to inform you that your probation period will not be extended, and your employment with us will be terminated, effective [termination date].

During your probation period, we have evaluated your performance and found that it has not met the necessary standards we require for this role.

Specifically, [mention specific areas of underperformance or issues, e.g., failure to meet sales targets, difficulty in adapting to team dynamics, etc.]. Despite the feedback and support provided, these issues have continued to impact your overall performance.

Please note that this decision is final. As per our company policy and the terms of your employment contract, you are entitled to [mention any final pay, severance, or benefits details].

Additionally, we request the return of any company property in your possession, such as [list items like ID badges, equipment, documents, etc.], by [specify date].

We understand that this news may be disappointing. If it is of any assistance, we are prepared to offer [mention any support like reference letters or career counseling, if applicable].

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

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our HR department at [contact information] if you have any questions or need further clarification regarding this matter.

Thank you for your time and contribution to [Your Company’s Name].


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

Real-Life Example:

When I had to write a termination letter for a recently hired marketing coordinator, I made sure to clearly state the reasons, which were primarily related to unmet performance targets despite regular feedback and additional training.


  • Keep the tone professional and empathetic.
  • Avoid vague language; be specific about reasons.
  • Include details on the next administrative steps.
  • Offer support for their future endeavors if possible.

Comments and Feedback: We appreciate your thoughts and experiences on writing unsuccessful probation termination letters. If you have any additional tips or stories, please share them in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A middle-aged Hispanic woman in business casual attire

Q: What Should I Include in an Unsuccessful Probation Termination Letter?

Answer: In my experience, it’s crucial to maintain professionalism and clarity in an unsuccessful probation termination letter. I always include the employee’s name, position, and the probation period dates.

I clearly state the decision to terminate the employment due to unsuccessful probation, citing specific reasons in a factual manner. It’s also important to mention any previous feedback or warnings given during the probation.

Finally, I include details about final pay, any benefits, and the return of company property, if applicable.

Q: How Can I Ensure the Letter Is Legally Compliant?

Answer: To ensure legal compliance, I always consult with the HR department or a legal advisor. I make sure the letter adheres to company policies and employment laws, especially regarding discrimination and unfair dismissal. 

It’s vital to base the termination on documented performance or conduct issues that were communicated to the employee during probation. This approach has helped me avoid potential legal issues.

Q: Is It Necessary to Provide Detailed Feedback in the Letter?

Answer: In my perspective, providing detailed feedback in the letter is both professional and helpful. I outline specific areas where the employee did not meet the required standards, based on the objectives set at the beginning of probation.

However, I balance this by being respectful and avoiding overly negative or personal comments. This approach not only supports the decision but also provides the employee with constructive feedback for future roles.

Q: Should I Offer a Face-to-Face Meeting to Discuss the Termination?

Answer: Yes, I believe offering a face-to-face meeting is a good practice. It allows for a more humane and respectful conversation, where the employee can ask questions and receive immediate answers. 

I always make sure to conduct this meeting in a private and confidential setting and often have an HR representative present. This helps provide clarity and closure for both parties.

Q: How Do I Handle the Employee’s Reaction to the Termination Letter?

Answer: Handling the employee’s reaction with empathy and professionalism is key. I listen attentively to their concerns, answer any questions honestly, and remain calm and respectful, regardless of the emotional response. 

I also reiterate the reasons for the termination and the support available, like outplacement services, if offered. Being prepared for various reactions has always helped me manage this sensitive situation effectively.

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