Employee Termination Letter (Sample Letters & Examples)

Terminating an employee is usually very stressful for everyone involved. However, though not easy, involuntary employee turnover is inevitable. Therefore, handling the termination process is just as crucial as the hiring and onboarding processes. If you are considering terminating an employee, then it is essential to send a letter of termination.

Simple Termination Letter Template

Termination Letter Sample


[company name]


[City, State, Zip code]



____ [Employee first and last name]

RE: Termination of Employment at ____ [company name]

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that your employment with ____ [company name] will end as of __ [date].

The termination is due to the following reason(s):

[Provide a list of the reason(s) for termination]

This decision is final.

You shall receive:

[Provide a list of the benefits and compensation they will receive]

Your health care benefits shall [Provide a detailed explanation of what will happen to their insurance policies upon the termination of employment]

Your retirement benefits will [Explain what will happen to their retirement benefits]

You are required to, therefore, return [List all company properties to be returned]

Remember that you signed an agreement to [list all the contracts the employee signed including NDAs]

If you have any questions with regards to your compensation, benefits, signed policies, or returning of company property, please contact [Provide the name and contact of the representative, usually an HR]


[Name of the person handling the termination]

What is a Termination Letter?

A termination letter is a formal letter confirming the details of the firing of an employee. It summarizes a list of the information that the employee being terminated will need to know and explains any benefits or compensation they will receive after termination.

When to use a termination letter

You should use a termination letter if or when:

  • You want to document the circumstances of the termination
  • It is your company’s policy to do so
  • Your state legally requires it
  • Providing the employees with the necessary information will help them have a smooth transition.

Do I have to provide a termination letter?

This depends on the state where your company does business. All states have rules on the termination of employees that you are well-advised to follow. However, in most states, no laws direct that you must issue a termination letter to your employees.

What to Include in a Termination Letter

Employee information

When writing a termination letter, include basic information such as:

  • Full name
  • Employee ID
  • Position/title
  • Company name
  • Name of the person handling the termination
  • Date of termination

Reason(S) for employee termination

There are various reasons why you could be terminating an employee.

Some of the common reasons include:

  • Without Cause: This refers to employee termination as a result of company downsizing and more substantial market factors that are unrelated to individual employee performance.
  • With Cause: termination with Cause refers to the termination of an individual employee based on their performance and behavior
  • End of Business Contract: Just like the name suggests, this type of termination is usually the result of an end to a contract between two parties.

Return of company property

In case an employee is required to return any company property, you must include a list of all the things they need to return in the letter. These may consist of cell phones, building passes, vehicles, etc.

Compensations and benefits going forward

The next thing to include in the letter is an explanation of how the employee’s compensation and benefits will be affected upon the termination of their employment. Depending on what state your business is in, you may be required to pay out unused vacation time. You should also inform them of how their health care, life insurance, and retirement funds will be affected upon their termination.

Remind them of signed agreements

In most cases, an employee will sign a non-disclosure agreement and other related documents during the onboarding phase. You should inform the employees of such contracts and attach a copy to go with the letter.

Include HR/manager contact information

Include the contact details for the specific manager/HR representative before signing off, to make it easy for them to follow up on their benefits and any other information that they may need clarified.

Items to Exclude from a Termination Letter

  • Severance to waive legal claims: Severance to waive legal claims may be seen as a sign of weakness by your employee. This may raise concerns as to whether they are wrongfully terminated or whether that is a way for the company to avoid legal issues. It is good to negotiate after the letter has been delivered without the potential for legal claims on the employee’s mind.
  • Protected Characteristics: A protected characteristic is typically anything that could be discriminated against. These include information such as health, sex, age, pregnancy, and disability. It would be best if you did not consider these factors when hiring, nor should you find them when firing.
  • Familiar Language: Maintain professionalism at all times. Include only factual information and avoid phrases such as:
    • You’d probably prefer a less stressful job anyway
    • Consider this as a chance to spend more time with your child
    • Now is a great time to retire anyway
    • Look on the bright side.

Why you Should Always Use a Termination Letter

A termination letter plays a significant role for both the employer and the employee. The main reason for sending the letter is to avoid any problems that may arise after termination.

The terminated employee will have to use the letter to claim unemployment insurance and any other federal and state benefits. Without this letter, they may be denied any access to such benefits that can make a huge difference in their unemployed life.

The letter will also serve as part of your defense if the employee files a complaint against the reasons for termination. Without a termination letter, you may find yourself as an employer being liable for thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Other Issues Regarding the Termination Process

Terminating an employee is never an easy process. Even after providing a termination letter, there are other things you must always consider before deciding to let go of an employee.

  • Provide verbal or written notice to an employee about any unacceptable behavior so that the employee is aware of their mistakes and may not act surprised when you decides to let them go.
  • Include a witness when sitting down with the employee to go over the letter before letting them go.
  • It is recommended to talk to the employee face to face when terminating them rather than terminating them via electronic means such as text, voice message, or email.
  • Prepare a detailed statement on why you are terminating the employee and avoid going into details in an attempt to explain the firing.
  • Avoid as many arguments as possible with the employee when discussing the termination letter.
  • Don’t decide to terminate an employee by comparing them to other employees.

Sample Letters

In this section, you can access free sample termination letters to gain insight and guidance on the delicate process of drafting your own, ensuring a respectful and legally sound conclusion to employment relationships. 

Termination letter without Cause

Termination Letter (Without Cause)

Subject: Notice of Termination

Dear John Doe,

This letter serves as formal notification of the termination of your employment with Zenith Enterprises, effective December 31, 20XX. This difficult decision has been made due to significant downsizing necessitated by the current economic climate.

Please return all company property in your possession, including your company-issued laptop, ID badge, and any other Zenith Enterprises equipment, no later than December 27, 20XX.

Regarding your compensation, you will receive your final paycheck on January 5, 20XX, which includes payment for unused vacation days. Your health care and life insurance benefits will cease on December 31, 20XX. You will receive information separately regarding the status of your retirement fund.

We remind you of the non-disclosure agreement and other documents you signed at the commencement of your employment. Please find attached copies for your reference.

For further clarifications or to discuss your benefits, please contact Susan Clark, HR Department, at 555-1234 or susan.clark@zenithenterprises.com.

We appreciate your contributions to Zenith Enterprises and wish you success in your future endeavors.


Jane Smith  

HR Manager  

Zenith Enterprises  

555-1234 | jane.smith@zenithenterprises.com

Termination letter with Cause

Termination Letter (With Cause)

Subject: Notice of Termination for Cause

Dear Emily Johnson,

This letter is to inform you that your employment with Nova Tech Solutions is being terminated, effective immediately, due to repeated violations of our company’s code of conduct and failure to meet performance standards.

Despite multiple discussions and warnings, as detailed in our meetings on October 5 and November 10, 20XX, your performance and behavior have not improved to the necessary level.

Please return all Nova Tech Solutions property, including your laptop, security badge, and any other equipment, by December 21, 20XX.

Your final paycheck, including compensation up to today’s date, will be available on January 3, 20XX. Your health care benefits will end on December 31, 20XX, and details regarding your retirement fund will be sent to you separately.

We remind you of the confidentiality and non-compete agreements signed at the start of your employment. Attached are copies for your review.

Should you need any clarification or have questions, please contact Lisa Green, HR Coordinator, at 555-6789 or lisa.green@novatechsolutions.com.

We regret the necessity of this action and wish you better opportunities in your future career.


Michael Roberts  

Department Head  

Nova Tech Solutions  

555-6789 | michael.roberts@novatechsolutions.com

Key Takeaways

Professional termination notices can be drafted using the two provided termination letters as useful samples.

Here are key aspects that make these letters effective and professional:

  1. Both letters communicate the termination decision directly, without ambiguity, yet they maintain a respectful tone. This balance is essential in such communications to convey the seriousness of the situation while respecting the recipient’s dignity.
  2. The letters differ in their reasons for termination. By providing clear reasons, the letters fulfill legal and ethical obligations for transparency.
  3. Both letters include instructions on returning company property and information about final paychecks, benefits, and retirement funds. This detail-oriented approach is crucial in helping the employee understand their obligations and rights post-termination.
  4. Each letter reminds the employee of their non-disclosure and, in the second letter, non-compete agreements. This is an important aspect of protecting the company’s interests.
  5. Both letters offer a point of contact for any further clarifications, demonstrating the company’s willingness to support the employee through this transition.
  6. The first letter explicitly thanks the employee for their contributions, which is a respectful gesture acknowledging the employee’s efforts during their tenure.
  7. Both letters conclude with a statement wishing the employee success in future endeavors. This adds a human touch to the communication, softening the impact of the termination.

To sum up, these letters are a useful resource for creating termination notices because of their courteous, direct, and straightforward tone; their thorough and detailed explanation of the legal and logistical aspects; and their inclusion of well wishes and polite acknowledgments.

About This Article

Zhaniece Hill
Authored by:
Human Resources Specialist | Masters of Business, MBA, BAS Operations Management and Supervision
Zhaniece Hill, an accomplished author, and writer, possesses an extensive 9-year journey as a seasoned Human Resources professional. With a Master's degree in Business Administration, Hill's profound insights into human capital management have been shaped by a diverse background spanning public and private sectors. Expertise in talent acquisition, onboarding, employee engagement, and benefits define Hill's remarkable HR acumen. With an unyielding focus on results, Hill's legacy is characterized by innovative HR solutions that elevate employee satisfaction, retention, and overall business performance. Continuously seeking fresh challenges, Zhaniece Hill utilizes her expertise to create a lasting impact in the realm of HR.

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