The process of hiring an employee is more one of bonding than anything else. And the goal is to integrate the new hire into an already established team. Most of the time the system works and the employee is integrated into the company. But there are times when it's necessary to let go of someone who is not quite right for your organization. It's never easy to dismiss an employee, especially if it's an employee with whom you have a good relationship.
Sometimes, however, you may be in a position where your job requires you to learn how to write a letter of dismissal. If you find yourself in such a position, here are some tips for handling the termination letter process as professionally and sensitively as possible. Be sure to check out the sample letter at the end of the article.
- Determine the facts behind the dismissal.There are two reasons an employee will leave the company. The first of which is a voluntary resignation. There may be a variety of reasons that a worker will discontinue employment voluntarily. Other times, the individual's employment is terminated by the company. When this happens it is necessary to determine the reason for this decision. This will allow you to properly draft the dismissal letter.
- As applicable, check with your supervisor when learning how to write a termination letter. Employee dismissals sometimes require the writer to follow certain legal or professional protocols or use a certain template. Before you begin your termination letter know what it must, by law and company policy, include and omit, and what template you should follow.
Hopefully, you work for a company (or even better, run a company yourself) that treats all employees ethically and allows employees to follow up with questions after they have received a dismissal letter. Or you may be in an organization that talks to employees personally before they are officially dismissed. This can help take some of the sting out of the situation, especially when the worker is consoled by a team member with whom they formed a bond. If you have a problem with the way your company handles dismissals, you should address that with your supervisor.
- Check with your company's legal department. Some employee terminations result in a lawsuit. This is usually the fault of the employer for not following the law. This can easily be remedied by consulting a lawyer prior to dismissing an employee. These professionals can instruct you on the laws behind terminating an employee.
You might, for instance, have to state specifically what conditions led to the dismissal, or conversely, you may have to phrase the dismissal letter in general language that does not reveal information such as internal reasons for downsizing. In either case you need to have the proof to go along with any allegations made. Your supervisor can provide any paperwork such as poor evaluations or write ups that the employee has received.
- If possible, be specific about the reasons for dismissal. When writing a letter of dismissal, you want to remain objective and professional. But don't forget the ethical importance of considering the feelings of the termination letter's recipient. If it is possible for you to be specific about the reasons the employee is being dismissed, include these briefly in your employee termination letter. If you were being fired, wouldn't you want to know the reasons why? You need not go into incredibly specific details, but as appropriate, pinpoint the violation of office policy, work evaluation, or other condition that has resulted in the dismissal. Again, it may sometimes be mandated that you include this information in your letter.
You will want to review the worker’s file to do so. Read over all the items you are given, which may include employee evaluations, internal memos, and emails as well as incident reports. These materials are provided by the company for situations such as this. Therefore it is very important to read them carefully in order to gain the facts behind the firing.
- Be concise. A dismissal letter, like most business correspondence, is best when it is concise. Include all the information you need along with a brief personal statement. An example of this is a line such as "Please let us know if you would like a letter of reference," if applicable. And then end the letter.
- Avoid making derogatory personal comments. If you are writing a letter of dismissal in the case of an employee or colleague with whom you or others in your office have had personal and ongoing conflict, be careful to leave those issues out of the letter of termination. Keep the standard office dismissal template and include the required information. Don't make any personal comments or editorialize on the grounds of the dismissal. You most likely have already encouraged the person to resign due to the negativity that has been created within the team. Since that was unsuccessful, you need to proceed very carefully. Personal comments are unacceptable, unprofessional, and might earn you a reprimand. If the person you have a problem with is leaving, let that be enough of a vindication.
- Timing is everything. When drafting the dismissal letter you should take note of the best time to send it to the worker. If this is a layoff you may be able to give the employee time to start looking for a new position before having to leave. Or you could defuse a tense situation in the work environment by letting the employee know they do not need to return to work the next day. Sometimes the actual moment at which the letter is given is the most important aspect to terminating an employee.
- Provide contact information for follow-up questions. If allowable, make sure to include contact information in the letter so the dismissed employee knows how to appeal, seek benefits, or seek answers following the loss of his or her job. Providing official channels for a person who has been recently dismissed can help that person clarify her situation or take the steps necessary to move on. It also allows you to avoid handling questions you may not personally be equipped to answer.
For example, many employees are eligible for COBRA medical coverage no matter the reason for termination. COBRA is an organization that offers medical coverage to workers who have lost their job. They act as a go between for the insurer and the employee to ensure that, if elected, their medical coverage will continue. There are a variety of other benefits such as unemployment insurance and final monies owed that the employee will need to have information about.
The dismissal letter is a way for a company to fire an employee with professionalism. The supervisor can provide a detailed explanation for the decision to terminate employment with integrity and class. And if you do have to write a dismissal letter to terminate someone else's employment, make sure that you cover all the professional bases and write in a way commensurate with your own ethical standards.
Sample Employee Termination Letter
Company City, State and Zip Code
Employee City, State and Zip Code
Dear [Employee Name]:
It is my duty to inform you that [Company Name] will no longer require your services. This has come about as the result of [Reasons For Dismissal].
You can contact [Employee Name] in the Human Resources Department regarding access to medical benefits, your severance package, and your final paycheck.
If you have any questions, you can contact me [Your Contact Details].
[Your Signed First and Last Name]
[Your Typed First and Last Name]