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How to Write an Employment Termination Letter (COVID-19 Templates Included)

No one looks forward to letting an employee go, but when you have to, it’s best to handle things professionally and with a standardized process. One part of that process is a termination letter, which serves as the official notice of the termination. Whether you’re letting someone go due to performance issues or company layoffs, the sample employee termination letters provided here can help.

Before you begin composing a letter, check with your legal department. Your industry, agreements with unions, and the employment contract for each worker can determine how and when you let an employee go.

 

What Should be Included in a Letter of Termination?

Don’t over-explain the reason for firing or write with emotion.

In addition to those must-haves listed above, what to put in an employee termination letter depends on why the employee is being let go and your state’s laws for employment practices. How much of a performance issue you refer to is up to you, but don’t over-explain the reason for firing or write with emotion. We’ll cover exactly what needs to be included in the following set of letter templates.

Employment Termination Letter Templates and Examples

While letting a worker go is an extremely nuanced process, a well-written sample termination letter can help you start. Use these examples as inspiration for your termination communications. If you are unsure about anything, be sure to seek the advice of a legal professional.

If you are unsure about anything, be sure to seek the advice of a legal professional.

Without Cause

If company policy requires you to withhold the reasons for termination or you don’t find disclosing the reasons to be helpful to the situation, you may find this particular sample termination letter to be useful.

(Date)

(Employee name)

This letter is to inform you that your employment with (company name) is terminated effective (date). Your final paycheck for salary owed to you and unused paid leave through (date) will be given to you as soon as the enclosed release form has been signed.

Please return the following items before the end of the day:

(list items here)

Health benefits (if applicable) will remain in effect through (date).

We have attached a copy of the confidentiality and non-compete portions of your employment contract. Please let the human resources department at (phone number) know if you have questions about compliance.

This termination decision cannot be reversed.

(Manager name)


With Cause

What if you want to communicate the reason for letting the employee go? This template for a termination letter due to cost-cutting can help.

(Date)

(Employee name)

This letter is to inform you that your employment with (company name) is terminated effective (date). Your final paycheck for salary owed to you and unused paid leave through (date) will be given to you as soon as the enclosed release form has been signed.

Your employment has been terminated due to (insert reason here, including economic downturn, company restructuring, redundancy of position, or bankruptcy).

Please return the following items before the end of the day:

(list items here)

Health benefits (if applicable) will remain in effect through (date).

We have attached a copy of the confidentiality and non-compete portions of your employment contract. Please let the human resources department at (phone number) know if you have questions about compliance.

This termination decision cannot be reversed.

(Manager name)

COVID-19 Layoff Letter Sample Template

(Date)

Dear (Employee name),

I regret to inform you that due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, it has become necessary for the company to temporarily reduce its workforce. You will be laid off effective from [insert date]. Your final paycheck for salary owed to you and unused paid leave through (date) will be given to you on (date). 

You will receive certain layoff benefits which are listed below:

  • [List benefits]
  • [List benefits]
  • [List benefits]

 

Thank you for your continued contributions to the company. If you have any further questions about your rights and layoff benefits, please get in contact with [contact name and details].

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

[Title]

 

COVID-19 Temporary Layoff Letter Sample Template

 

(Date)

Dear (Employee name),

I regret to inform you that due to [insert reason for temporary layoff], it has become necessary for the company to temporarily reduce its workforce.

You will be temporarily laid off effective from the [insert date], with an expected return to work date of [insert date]. If this date changes, you will be given 14 days written notice. Your final paycheck for salary owed to you and unused paid leave through (date) will be given to you on (date). 

You will receive certain layoff benefits which are listed below:

  • [List benefits]
  • [List benefits]
  • [List benefits]

Thank you for your continued contributions to the company. If you have any further questions about your rights and layoff benefits, please get in contact with [contact name and details]

 

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

[Title]

 

Layoff Warnings & Voluntary Layoffs

 

(Date)

To our valued employees,

It may be necessary in the near future for [Company Name] to lay off up to [number] of team members. As you are no doubt aware, the recent spread of COVID-19 has placed a significant strain on our ability to conduct business. We have taken serious efforts to reduce our spending and sustain our profits throughout this situation.

Despite this, it may be necessary for us to conduct layoffs in order to reduce payroll costs. This is a measure that we will make every effort to avoid, but, should layoffs become necessary, employees that are affected will be informed by [Date].

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep everyone apprised of our decision. You can be assured that we are exploring all options and that this decision will not be taken lightly. 

Thank you for your continued contributions to this company,

Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

[Title]

 

 


 

Due to Poor Performance

If you have a difficult time phrasing communication due to poor performance or actions such as as a no-call no-show situation, this template can be useful.

(Date)

(Employee name)

This letter is to inform you that your employment with (company name) is terminated effective (date). Your final paycheck is enclosed.

Your termination is due to the following attendance issues:

(Sample: On XYZ date, you missed work without leave. You were warned by your supervisor and written up.

On XYZ date, you came to work 2 hours late. You received a second warning and were written up.)

Please return the following items before the end of the day:

(list items here)

Health benefits (if applicable) will remain in effect through (date).

We have attached a copy of the confidentiality and non-compete portions of your employment contract. Please let the human resources department at (phone number) know if you have questions about compliance.

This termination decision cannot be reversed.

(Manager name)

In addition to a great termination letter template, you might need a few tips and steps to handle layoffs with grace and professionalism.


 

FAQs

In addition to learning how to write an employee termination letter, these frequently asked questions can help you with other details related to this task.

Do You Have to Give an Employee a Termination Letter?

You do not, but it makes good business sense to document the termination.

What are the Fair Reasons for Dismissal?

The term “fair dismissal” is more a UK term than a US one, but a fired employee may try to claim that they were let go for unfair reasons. An at-will employment agreement states that either party may end the agreement at any time, cutting down on some of the fairness claims a terminated employee may bring up. Common “fair” reasons include performance or conduct issues, breaking confidentiality or competition agreements, or no longer being needed.

Does an Employee Need to Sign a Termination Letter?

No, it is not mandatory. Termination letters aren’t even necessary, but they provide documentation of the situation and help to reduce any confusion about the terms of the termination. 

What is the Minimum Notice Period for Termination of Employment?

While many contractor agreements, union contracts, and consulting retainers may require a minimum notice, most employees have been hired under “at-will” agreements with no notice needed. However, there are some laws that regulate how larger companies handle massive layoffs due to company failure, closure, or bankruptcy. Check with your local labor laws for details on what notice must be given.

Is Discharged the Same as Terminated?

“Discharged” means that the employment contract has been completed by both parties and will no longer be enforced. “Terminated” implies that one party is ending the contract.

When Should I Use a Termination Letter?

Use a letter every time you let someone go. Even if you also tell them in person, the letter provides documentation of the conversation.

 

Are you looking to start your hiring process today? Comeet can help. Check out our pricing plans to learn more about how we can redefine the way you recruit new talent.

 

 

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Barry Lenson

Barry Lenson

Barry Lenson has spent more than 25 years writing blogs, website copy, and books on business, education, healthcare, and the arts. He has written and co-authored more than a dozen books, including the Amazon.com bestseller Good Stress, Bad Stress. Barry earned degrees from McGill and Yale.

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