Six keys to effective employee termination letters and discipline documentation

by on May 27, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Be clear, concise, and accurate with employee termination letters

  1. Cite the specific violation in the employee termination letter
  2. When writing disciplinary documents and employee termination letters, you want to be concise, you want to be accurate and avoid generalities.
    Cite the specific rule violation or employment problem that results in terminating that employee. An employee should be made aware of the rule or policy for which he’s being disciplined. And if your company’s got an employee handbook or other written policies that inform employees the work rules that’s great later on when terminating an employee.

  3. Employee handbook receipt
  4. Hopefully, you’ll have a written acknowledgement that the employee received the handbook when they started working there or when it was issued. That acknowledgement form becomes useful evidence later on if this matter – let’s say you’re in an employee termination, and they sue. If this matter ended up in litigation and the employee claimed that he didn’t know the company had a certain policy, you’d like to be able to pull out the handbook acknowledgement to say this employee signed the acknowledgement saying that he received the handbook. Once someone does that, they have constructive knowledge of whatever is in the handbook, so it doesn’t matter whether or not they read the handbook, they’re still expected to know what’s in it.

  5. List all the applicable information in the employee termination
  6. In addition, you want to list applicable information on the disciplinary document such as the date the infraction happened and any witnesses you might have.

  7. Give concrete examples
  8. So, the employee really needs to know the reason they’re being disciplined. Give concrete examples of unacceptable conduct. If clients are complaining about an employee, tell them which client on which date and what the complaints were. That’s much more helpful. It also works as a check for you because if you can’t answer those questions, then you really want to think about why you’re disciplining or terminating this employee.

  9. Prior discipline to the employee termination
  10. If a prior disciplinary action has been taken on the same issue, you want to list that as well. You want to include a timetable if it’s appropriate to set goals and expectations for improvement.

    Let the employee know what’s going to happen if the conduct or performance does not improve, again, set a definite time period for improvement. And then follow up to make sure that expectations are being met in a timely manner.

    If you say in a disciplinary document you’re going to meet weekly or bi-weekly to talk about something, then you need to hold up your end of the bargain too and meet with this employee.

  11. Read the employee termination letter like an outsider
  12. If you write a disciplinary document, take a step back, read it as though you were an outsider who doesn’t know any of the facts of the situation and ask yourself if your reason for disciplining or terminating an employee makes any sense. Make sure it’s clear to everyone what’s going on here. That way, if you terminate the employees and they sue, a jury will see where you’re coming from.

    Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar “Effective Termination Techniques -How to Document Terminations So You Won’t Lose a Lawsuit” by Alyssa Senzel October 24, 2007

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