45+ Sample Termination Letters

What Is a Termination Letter?

A termination letter is an HR letter that is handed out to an employee who is about to be let go of by the company. This is a necessary part of the termination process and is used to confirm whatever details were worked out by the termination meeting. Among the useful information that it conveys include the exact date of the firing and when the employee’s last date is, when one can expect the final paycheck, any final requests by the company, and more. It is important that you schedule a meeting with the soon-to-be terminated employee before writing and sending this document. A termination meeting is not only essential for a peaceful termination process but it also allows for the employee and employer to be able to express their concerns and thoughts about the entire thing. Scheduling a meeting is not just kind and generous but it also helps you prevent any lawsuits that could be filed over discrimination claims or any other harmful charges.

The reasons why employers terminate their employees are quite numerous. The Balance Careers cites several of the most common reasons, with the most prevalent ones being constant tardiness (41%), social media policy violations (33%), and wasting time at the office or disrupting fellow employees (22%). According to Career Builder, there is another common reason for employee termination: calling in sick for a false reason, with around 33% of employers admitting to firing employees over this. From the same source, employees are revealed to have gone as far as to cite the following excuses for calling in sick: an exploding pressure cooker caused their sibling stress, a traumatic experience with a spider, ate too much birthday cake, and being bitten by a duck. Regardless of how far out an employee’s reasons may be for their behavior, termination should be taken seriously and dealt with in the most professional way as much as possible.


The Elements of a Termination Letter

Before you get started on writing the termination letter, it would be worth looking into the basic elements that you are going to encounter. There’s a lot to look into concerning termination letters so don’t waste any more time and dive headfirst into the list below.

Name of the Employee: It is absolutely necessary for the terminated employee to be identified by his or her complete name. Make sure that this name is the same one that was identified in the employee’s contract for legal purposes.Name of the Company: The company name is another thing that needs to be explicitly written into the termination letter. Do not be content with just one part of the name or its abbreviation. Completely include the entire name of the company.Name of the Manager: The person whom the terminated employee worked under or answered to during his or her tenure in the company must also be mentioned by name in the termination letter. If the employee has been promoted or transferred departments multiple times over the course of his or her time with the company, it is worth mentioning only the most recent manager.Date of the Letter: The date that the termination letter was written and completed must also be included. The reason for its inclusion would be for proper documentation. In the event that potential legal trouble brews from this termination, the exact date of letter’s writing and filing is going to be among the details that the company cannot afford to forget about.Date of Termination: The date of termination is needed in order to document when the employee was fired from the company. This is not necessarily the date of the employee’s last day with the company.Reason for Termination: This element may be just one reason or an entire list of there are numerous reasons for the employee’s termination. Having this in the termination letter is necessary in order to document that the termination or dismissal was done in a fair and lawful manner.Items to Be Turned Over: This element focuses on all the items and equipment under the possession of the terminated employee that is still considered company property. It can be something that has been taken home by the employee or simply equipment in the office that has been used exclusively by the employee.Details of Final Paycheck and Others: The last basic element to expect would involve the details of the employee’s last paycheck and various other provisions. How this plays out on the letter itself will depend greatly on the contract that the employee was under as well as the policies of the company. This may include non-compete agreements and even a non-disclosure agreement for those who have been involved in assignments that are particularly sensitive to the confidentiality of the company’s properties.

How to Write a Termination Letter

Now that you know the basic elements, the next part involves putting them all together to form the termination letter as a whole. Below are the steps that need to be taken to achieve your desired outcome. Like many HR forms, this will mostly entail getting the details as accurately as possible and compiling everything in a professional format. The instructions are also guaranteed to help make the experience of letter-writing to be as easy and quick as possible for you.

Step 1: Identify the Employee and List Down His or Her Details

For the first step, you need to specify who the employee is. Write down his or her full name along with any important details. Said details will involve the company department that the soon-to-be terminated employee belongs to, his or her official position or job title, and the ID number.

Step 2: Identify the Person Handling the Termination Process

The next step of writing the termination letter would be determining and stating who will be responsible for handling or overseeing the entire termination process. This could be the direct manager or supervisor of the terminated employee or perhaps it could be the HR officer. Either way, write his or her name and position in the termination letter, even if it is just you.

Step 3: Specify What the Terminated Employee is Entitled to

Even terminated employees will still get something once they leave the company. This could be as minimal as their last paycheck or it could include other things such as complete severance packages. Whatever they may be, you need to identify the benefits in the termination letter.

Step 4: Discuss Company Property to be Returned by the Employee

The terminated employee will need to return any kind of property in his or her possession that actually belongs to the company. This may include laptops, phones, or any other kind of gadget. It may even go beyond that as long as it was loaned out for work purposes. List each thing down on the termination letter with the added statement detailing the specific date when the employee is to turn in each one.

This part will depend on what has been agreed upon before when first hiring the employee in the first place. There may be certain legal documents that need to be upheld even after the termination. Your employee may be required to sign non-compete clauses or a non-disclosure agreement. In the event that those documents have already been signed, it would be wise to mention them anyway as a reminder of sorts.

After all of that, your next job is to make sure that everything is as accurate as possible. Go over the letter and watch out for any typos, grammar issues, and even misinformation that you inadvertently included. From there you can send it to your company’s lawyer or legal team so that they can do their own review of the document. Only after you have double—and even triple—checked everything should you send it to the employee that you seek to terminate.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Termination Letter

There are many things an employee can and cannot do per the regulations cited in their employee handbook. Likewise, employers would also be wise about the many dos and don’ts that comes with the termination process. Some of these have gone unspoken or unwritten for too long. Those who want to improve their termination letters will discover the following tips to be both incredibly helpful and full of useful insights.


Do cite the reasons for ending the employee’s tenure.

One simply does not get fired for no reason. When writing the termination letter, you need to acknowledge what those reasons are. Doing so will help the employee understand why this is happening and it will also serve as part of your company’s official documentation. Neglecting this can come back to bite you if ever your former employee decides to sue you over unlawful termination. In the event such a thing takes place, you will need as much documentation as possible.

Do remind the employee that the decision cannot be reversed.

The act of terminating an employee for whatever reason must be a decisive one. There will be those who believe that they can still save their jobs by trying to negotiate with their employers. By explicitly stating that you’ve made up your mind, you can put an end to such efforts before they have even begun. It will also set the right tone for the rest of the termination process so that all parties involved can move forward without too much of a hassle.

Do include an offer to provide any assistance provided that it falls within reason.

Part of what entails a smooth termination process is the continued cooperation of both parties until the very end. Whatever your soon-to-be former employee needs, if it is something that you can help with then, by all means, offer to do so. This may be nothing more than an act of courtesy but it can be helpful if your intentions include maintaining an amicable relationship with the employee. Many people move on from jobs fairly regularly and easily but nobody will ever forget being treated badly on their way out.

Do keep the letter’s tone as professional as possible.

This is likely to be the last document that the employee will receive from you before he or she is officially terminated. For image reasons, it would be wise to maintain a professional stance from the beginning until the very end. For more personal reasons, termination can be a difficult thing for anybody to accept and you do not want to worsen things by coming off as rude or too informal. Being considerate of the other person regardless of circumstances will never be a bad thing to do.

Do check with your company’s lawyer to see if there are potential legal issues to take care of.

As problematic as it can be to handle a toxic or under performing employee, an expensive lawsuit that starts with the former employee sending you a wrongful termination letter will be an even bigger headache. Make sure that you are completely within the boundaries of the law before you say or do anything. One way to ensure your company’s safety is to have a talk with a lawyer. Discuss the termination and see if there are pitfalls for you to avoid. You can even draft the termination letter with the lawyer’s help as a form of countermeasure.


Do not make any inappropriate jokes in the termination letter.

Those who work for small companies, such as startups, may feel like they are part of one big family. Some may even take these pseudo-familial feelings to such a strong extent that they are comfortable enough to joke around when it normally would not be appropriate. If you are close with the employee you are about to terminate, be aware that jokes are not welcome in a termination letter. That would be an incredibly unprofessional move that may come back to bite you at a later date.

Do not be too informal with the terminated employee.

Related to the notion of familiarity breeding contempt, it isn’t just inappropriate jokes that need to be left behind when writing a termination letter. An informal tone just won’t make the cut anywhere. Termination needs to be treated as seriously as possible. Do everybody a favor and save any informality for more personal interactions. Considering how significant a letter like this is, anything less than professional should not be entertained.

Do not neglect to talk about the last payment owed to the employee.

Regardless of whether the firing is abrupt or if the employee is required to vacate the premises immediately, it would lead to massive amounts of trouble if you do not do something about the last payment. When writing the letter, include a statement that addresses this issue. This will serve as proof that you did, in fact, act to uphold your end of the deal despite everything that has happened.

Do not neglect to specify when the employee’s last date at the company.

This tip will only be appropriate for those employees whose termination is more drawn out or not serious enough to warrant immediate dismissal. Specifying their last day on the job can help set reasonable expectations for all involved. If there is anything that needs to be accomplished still, like turning over equipment, then you will have given the employee the appropriate time to get it done. This also works to your advantage since it will show that in spite of all that has taken place, your professionalism and commitment to ending the working relationship amicably stood firm.

Do not neglect to remind the employee to provide you with his or her updated contact information.

There may be certain things that you cannot fulfill even with an appropriate number of days allotted before the terminated employee’s last day. This may involve delays with the compensation, equipment turnover, among other things. Reminding your former employee to keep in touch can help ensure that none of those things fall through the cracks and get forgotten.

Those who used to harbor doubts regarding the use of a letter of termination can now safely discard them. As revealed thus far, it is a significantly balanced document that requires proper and conscious care to breathe into life. Concerning those who may not want to bother starting all the way from the beginning, be assured that you will have a myriad of opportunities to select the right template for you online. Use what you’ve learned so far to edit your template’s pre-existing content until the document meets your specific needs before printing it out.