Termination notices: Must you provide them & what should they say?

PositionNuts & Bolts

When terminating employees, it may be easier just to tell the person in a meeting and then watch them walk out the door. But advising the person of the termination reason in writing is a best practice for any organization. In fact, it may even be a legal requirement.

No federal law requires termination letters. But a handful of states, including Arizona, California and New Jersey, do require employers to provide a notice of separation. Some states require this at the time of termination; others require such letters only if the employee requests it.

Even if no law requires it, providing written notice of the termination reason can prevent accusations that it was for improper or illegal reasons. It gives you a documented paper trail that identifies the reasons for the discharge, the effective date, a request for company property and more.

Lawsuit prevention isn't the only reason. In the Internet age, 70% of job seekers read online reviews about an organization before taking a job. Disgruntled departures are prime fodder for Glassdoor reviews.

What to include

Any termination letter should always be informative and professional. It will be an important document that remains in the person's employee file.

Having a template can help ensure that you don't miss out on the most important information, and it also ensures you're protecting yourself from future litigation.

The letter should include information employees will wonder about after getting verbal notice, such as:

* The reason for the termination.

By including the reason, it shows that the organization has thoughtfully come to a business-based decision. This will help reduce employees' concerns that they were treated unfairly or unlawfully. While every detail shouldn't be included, cite the basic facts that led to the termination and reference any specific policies the employee violated.

* Termination date. This is the date the employee is officially terminated from their employment. Including this detail is important for many different benefit and legal reasons, including statutes of limitations.

* Final day of work. If termination is not immediate, include the final day the person...

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