A letter announcing termination of employment should be a model of fairness. No matter how angry the writer is with the employee, it should be remembered that a letter is a written record that can come back to plague the writer if it is not reasonable and polite. The company needs complete documentation of the reasons for the dismissal because some dissatisfied employees take their cases to the HEROC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or to their lawyers. The letter should also be brief in order to eliminate a tendency to present the sad news slowly, and thus painfully, to the recipient.

Here are a few “just causes” for terminating an employee:

—  The employee has been forewarned of disciplinary measures for actions or lack of actions.
—  The company’s requirements are reasonable.
—  All employees are treated equally.
—  The employee’s performance justifies termination.

 The letter, however, must be positive.  Leave no doubt in the reader’s mind that he or she is being fired. The first question that comes to the reader’s mind is “Why me?” This must be explained in order to make the letter complete. The explanation must sound reasonable and plausible, as well as being true, so the employer’s goodwill (as much as possible under the circumstances) is retained. Terminating an employee is an integral part of any business, but it is also a painful experience for both parties. Treat the situation as even-handedly as possible. This can be done by including all the following points in the termination letter.

Letter 1

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The recent reorganization and increasing inflation have forced IBM Corporation to close down several of its operations.  Your department will cease operation effective January 10, 19ˍˍ.

I regret having to terminate your association with IBM, as I believe that your work and enthusiasm have made you an asset to the company.

Rest assured that I will recommend you highly to potential employers as a most competent individual.

Letter 2

Dear [[Recipient]]:

I regret having to tell you this, but due to a corporate program of cutbacks, your services will have to be terminated.  The effective date will be May 31.

This cutback is being made companywide and will affect about 150 salaried employees.  Seven or eight will be laid off in this branch.  When deciding whom to let go, seniority was the primary factor.  However, headquarters management has determined  that certain occupations will be affected more than others.

We are sorry to see you leave and will certainly provide a good reference when you need it.

Letter 3

Dear [[Recipient]]:

As you have become aware during the past six months, economic conditions have hurt us badly, forcing us to eliminate certain positions.  This is unfortunate but we see no alternative.  Regretfully, your position is one of those to be eliminated.  A lot of hard thinking and long discussions with your supervisor, Mr. Thomas, preceded this decision.

We hope that as economic conditions improve we will be able to consider you for another position when one becomes available.  We wish you every success in locating a new position and extend our thanks and appreciation for the good work you have done for us.

Letter 4

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The recent merger of Ford and Holden Car Companies has created a large pool of employee talents, many of which duplicate one another.

It is unfortunate, but many faithful employees of Ford will have to be released by the end of fiscal year 20ˍˍ in order that a more efficient, cost-effective operation be established.

It is my sad duty to inform you that your position is one which will be terminated.

This unfortunate occurrence is not meant to reflect upon either your competence or productivity, both of which I would personally vouch for.

If there is any way in which I can be of assistance, please let me hear from you.

Letter 5

Dear [[Recipient]]:

It is with deep regret that I must inform you of the recent decision to terminate your association with Time Warner, Inc., as of December 25, 20ˍˍ.  Recent financial problems have forced us to scrutinize our manpower resources carefully, and several employees have, unfortunately, suffered in the process.

Your work here has been admirable and I will certainly provide you with the highest of recommendations if called upon to do so.

With your skills and abilities to work with people, I have no doubt that you will soon secure a position with another organisation.

Letter 6

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The decision has been made to request your resignation effective June 15, 20ˍˍ.

Recent publicity regarding alleged indiscretions with several of our members has made effective functioning in your position close to impossible.

Although individual board members maintain a belief in your innocence, public opinion has made our decision inevitable.

You are highly competent in your field and we trust that several new positions will open for you.

Letters 7

Dear [[Recipient]]:

You have done a fine job for us this summer.  The Panama project was a masterpiece of thoroughness and provided our top management with just the information needed.

We would be fortunate to have you back with us next season – and, we hope, for longer.  We know you will do well wherever you go.

Letters 8

Dear [[Recipient]]:

We have been good friends for several years now, which makes this the most painful thing I have been asked to do in my business career.  After long discussions with Tom Cruise, he has concluded that the best thing for all concerned is that you leave the company.

I know you will be leaving many friends, but conditions are such that this seems the best thing to do.  Your severance pay will allow you time to locate new opportunities, and I’ll be glad to help you in any way I can, now and in the future.

Letters 9

Dear [[Recipient]]:

I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your service will no longer be required.  However, your pay will continue for two full months.  The time is based on your years of service.

We have repeatedly asked you to put more effort and willingness into your work.  We believe you have the potential to do a competent job, but your last three reports were late, incomplete, and inaccurate, and therefore useless to our managers who rely on these reports for operating decisions.

Perhaps you should seek a job that is less demanding and has less critical deadlines.  I am confident you will soon find work more suited to your abilities.

Letters 10

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The school board has recently received several strongly voiced complaints regarding your procedure in the classroom.  After a thorough investigation into the charges, the board has voted not to renew your contract for the coming academic year.

Admittedly, Wesley is not an avant-garde town, and many unusual approaches to education are not fully appreciated by the parents of the school children.

I trust that you will locate a position in a school system that is more receptive to your techniques, and we wish you well in your endeavor.