How to Write an Employment Termination Letter With a Gracious Tone

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Most managers deal with challenging employees at some point. These employees might lack the skills necessary to perform their job, they might disregard company policies or they might commit an act against the company. In any case, the manager will need to terminate that employee from the company. As part of the firing process, the manager needs to write an employment termination letter to the employee. The letter provides written documentation of the termination, and its tone should remain professional and gracious throughout.

  • Meet with the employee first. The employee should not be surprised to receive the termination letter. Additionally, ongoing performance evaluations should have already alerted the employee to work areas where he failed to perform at the required level. Explain that after repeated attempts to address the issue the employee failed to meet the job requirements. State that, as a result, the company needs to terminate its relationship with the employee.

  • Write the first draft of the termination letter. Start with company letterhead and use a standard business letter format. Include the date and the employee's name and address near the top of the page. Write the reason for the letter -- the fact that the company is terminating the employee -- in the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, explain the reason for the termination.

  • State the employee's rights. In the third paragraph, include information regarding actions the employee can take to appeal the decision. If the employee belongs to a union, for example, include the union representative contact information.

  • Revise the letter for factual accuracy and professionalism. Compare each statement regarding the reason for termination with the employee's personnel records. Verify dates and findings from each performance evaluation meeting. Read the letter out loud. Highlight sentences that sound harsh or judgmental and rewrite these portions of the letter.

  • Consult with a legal representative. Prior to mailing the letter, ask your company's attorney to review it. Such a document could represent legal ammunition that the employee could use against the company. A legal expert can identify any statements that could create a liability against the company.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remain calm and include a human resources representative as you deal with the termination process. Terminated employees react in various ways. Some react with tears, while others become aggressive. Having human resources personnel present will ensure that you handle the employee appropriately while providing a united front for the company.

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