Writing an Unsuccessful Probation Termination Letter (with Sample)

It is very common in most jobs for there to be a probationary period during which the employer reviews the new employee’s skills, abilities and attitude to determine if he or she is suitable for the job. Most companies and institutions offer guidelines for the probationary period, that the new employee must follow. 

The guidelines will include a termination process. The new employee will sign a copy of the guidelines to prove he or she understands the conditions of the probation. If the company wants to dismiss the employee during the probationary period, the employer will send a probation termination letter to the new employee to inform him or her that the employment has ended.

It is very important for any business that has a probation period for new hires to have a legal probationary agreement. It can protect the human resource person from employing an unsatisfactory person and will protect the company from any legal liability from an unsuitable person. 

Probation periods are not a separate period of employment. The employee has rights while on probation and may be entitled to access their paid leave. Probation periods may be given to new employees, current employees who are promoted to a new position and current employees who have performance problems and require a review of their work.

If a small business is creating probationary policies, there are some steps it can take to avoid legal risks:

• The employee should be notified how long the probationary period lasts and what the employer expects during that time including milestones or benchmarks.

• The employer should give regular counseling and feedback to the employee. Every meeting should be documented.

• The employer can offer training to the employee.

The probation time may be from 30 days to six months, and during that time, the employer will usually make every attempt to help a new employee adjust to the new job. The employer must make sure that the expectations it has for an employee are very clear. 

List of Expectations

The human resource person may meet the new employee regularly to go over a list of expectations, so the employee knows exactly where he or she stands in relation to the job. 

The employer may ask the new employee to sign the checklist every week to indicate that he or she understands the terms. The employee should which actions on his or her part could lead to termination during the probation period.

Before writing the probation termination letter, the employer or human resource person should review the employee’s evaluation report. This will give details and facts about the employee’s performance during the probation period. It should give an accurate account of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses in the job. 

The person writing the letter should outline the substandard parts and make a list of the reasons the employee is not fulfilling the requirements. For example, a person who works in sales may include poor customer service skills or lack of sales. 

Pertinent Sections

Any pertinent sections of the probationary guidelines should be highlighted. For example, if the guidelines state that the employee must be on time to work and he or she has been late more often than not, it is a clear infraction of the terms of employment. With a list of infractions, the employer will be able to explain clearly why the employee is being terminated. The employee should be asked to sign the checklist.

The human resource person or employer should schedule a meeting with the employee to review the performance evaluation report and point out how the employee’s behavior fell short of the company’s expectations. The letter should clearly state when the last paycheck would be given and what items the employee needs to return to the company such as phone, computer, keys or security card. 

State Facts

It is important that termination letters are not inflammatory. To avoid this, the letter should only state facts and not scold or criticize the employee. If the facts are clearly presented, it will help prevent the employee from making a future wrongful dismissal claim. Terminating an employee at the end of a probation period is not a black mark for the employee. It merely shows that the job did not work out. 

Below is a sample probation termination letter. It is a formal business letter that may be delivered by hand or sent by certified mail. 

Sample Probation Termination Letter

Name of Human Resource Person
Position of Human Resource Person
Name of Company
Address of Company
City, State, Zip Code

DATE

Name of Employee
Address of Employee
City, State, Zip Code

RE: Probation termination

Dear Name of Employee:

This letter is formal notice that your probation period with Name of Company is being terminated effective on DATE. We have decided that you have not fulfilled the conditions of employment because of your lack of enthusiasm for the job, not fulfilling the tasks given you and not showing the skills in computer programming that you claimed on your resume. 

According to the terms and conditions of the probation letter that you signed, the company may terminate you with 48-hours notice within the six-month probation period. 

I request that you return your mobile phone and laptop to your immediate supervisor, and attend an exit interview at 3pm on DATE at my office. You will get your final paycheck at that time and sign some termination documents. 

You may speak freely during this meeting. I am sorry you did not take advantage of the support and help we gave you to make your employment a success. However, I wish you success in your future endeavors. 

Thank you for the time you have given to Name of Company.

Sincerely,

Signature of Human Resource Person
Printed Name of Human Resource Person
Printed Name of Company