Termination Letter | Should You Give A Reason?
The employee termination letter has many purposes. First, it gives
the employee formal notice his employment has ended. Second, the
letter helps you start the termination meeting. Third, it helps
you fight nervousness in the meeting. When you don’t know
what to say, you should just read the note. Finally, the employee
keeps a copy of the letter. It helps him remember and understand
what occurred in the final meeting. Often, this meeting is a blur
to the terminated worker, and he only partially hears what you
Including “The Reason” In The Employee Termination
Many supervisors and HR managers wonder if the letter should include
the reason for the firing. I recommend it does. This may be surprising
Here’s why I recommend this.
Including the reason is a dignified move. By clearly voicing a
legitimate reason, the employee doesn’t wonder why you fired
him and doesn’t immediately call his lawyer in anger. And,
when the lawyer reviews the letter, he’ll see it’s
a losing case as you have a well-documented, legitimate reason.
So, including the reason prevents a lawyer from taking the case
Also, many states compel the employer give the real reason at
the worker’s request. The states call these the “service
letter” laws. Since law will force you to give the reason
anyway, you might as well include it up front.
It’s important to give an “honest” reason in
the employee termination letter. Don’t give a false reason
to soften the blow, such as the “business is down, we just
have to let you go,” when the real reason is poor job performance
with three written warnings as proof. Also, never put in any reasons
you can’t prove. You’ll win or lose in court based
on the credibility of your reasons.
In short, you should give the real reason regardless of how hard
it’s on the employee. He’ll get over it, and you’ll
soften the blow with a severance package.
The above is an excerpt from the Employee Termination
Guidebook by Dan Betts. This is an excellent resource which shows you
how to terminate properly. It also includes several forms including
an employee termination letter template.