Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via emailShare via Facebook Messenger

How to Write a Termination Letter: Professional Guidelines

Writing a termination letter is a task that no manager looks forward to, yet it’s an essential part of the employment cycle. This letter serves not only as a formal notification of the end of an employment relationship but also as a safeguard for the company in the event of any disputes. Crafting a termination letter that is clear, respectful, and legally sound can be challenging. In this guide, you’ll learn how to craft a well-written termination letter to ensure a smooth transition for both the company and the departing employee.

Work smarter with Grammarly
The AI writing partner for anyone with work to do

Understanding termination letters

A termination letter is a formal document used by employers to notify an employee that their employment is ending. It is an integral part of the termination process and serves as the official record of the employee’s dismissal.

Termination letters fulfill several purposes: they provide clear and formal communication of the termination, outline the terms of the separation, and help protect the employer in case of a dispute by documenting the reasons and conditions of the termination.

Termination letters usually include details such as:

  • The date of termination
  • The reason for the termination (while not always required, many include it)
  • Any severance benefits or other compensation the employee is entitled to
  • Instructions for the return of company property
  • Details regarding the final paycheck and accrued vacation time
  • Legal and policy information, such as nondisclosure agreements, noncompete clauses, or information on the employee’s rights under employment law

Termination letters should be tailored to fit the specific situation and comply with local labor laws. Employers often consult with HR professionals or legal counsel when drafting termination letters to ensure they contain all necessary components and avoid potential legal issues.

When is a termination letter necessary?

Sometimes an employer will have a single reason for terminating an employee, and sometimes multiple reasons will apply. Typically the reason involves performance-related issues, misconduct, organizational changes, or economic conditions. Here are some common reasons for termination:

  • Violation of company policy: The employee breaches company policies, such as those related to workplace behavior, safety protocols, or attendance requirements.
  • No longer needed: The employee’s position is no longer necessary due to organizational restructuring, mergers, or downsizing.
  • Financial constraints: The company faces financial difficulties, leading to budget cuts or reduced workforce needs.
  • End of contract or of temporary employment: The expected conclusion of a fixed-term contract
  • Inadequate job performance: The employee has not met the job’s performance standards despite feedback and opportunities for improvement.

How to write a termination letter

Writing a termination letter requires a careful and respectful approach to ensure it is clear, concise, and professional. Each termination letter should be customized to reflect the specific circumstances of the employee and comply with local labor laws. Consulting with HR professionals or legal counsel is advisable to ensure the letter meets all legal requirements and is handled sensitively.

Preparing to write a termination letter

Before you write an employee termination letter, collect the necessary details, including employee details like name, job title, and ID number (if any), the date the termination is officially effective, the reason for the termination, information regarding outstanding pay, and relevant employment laws and protocols. Additionally, ensure you have information on any company property that needs to be returned and any post-termination obligations of the employee, such as confidentiality agreements, that need to be included in the letter.

You may also want to take time to consider questions or reactions the employee might have and prepare responses. This could involve understanding their benefits, explaining the decision further, or directing them to support resources.

Structuring a termination letter

As with any formal business letter, structuring a termination letter with clarity and precision is vital to conveying the necessary information while being respectful to the employee. Here’s how to properly structure the letter:


Include the date the letter was written and employee information such as the employee’s full name, position, address, and department.


Begin with a salutation addressing the employee directly, followed by an introduction. The introduction should clearly state that the purpose of the letter is to inform the employee of their employment termination. Include the effective date of the termination early in the letter for clarity.


In the body, briefly state the reason for the termination in a factual manner, avoiding unnecessary detail or overly emotional language. Outline any severance pay, benefits, or other compensation the employee will receive, including information on how and when these will be provided. If applicable, specify any company property that needs to be returned, along with instructions on how and when to do so. Lastly, remind the employee of any legal agreements like nondisclosures or noncompetes that remain in effect after termination.


The closing statement should outline the next steps to be taken by the employee and the company. It should also explain what support is available and how the employee can access it. Additionally, provide details of who the employee can contact for further questions. Conclude with a respectful closing statement, wishing the employee well in their future endeavors.


Sign off with a professional closing, such as “Sincerely,” followed by a space for your signature. Include a signature block with your printed name, title, and department below the signature space.

Putting final touches on a termination letter

Taking the time to review your letter thoroughly before delivery can make a big difference in maintaining professionalism and respect throughout the termination process. When you’re finalizing the termination letter, Grammarly can help ensure that the document is free of grammar and spelling errors, uses a professional tone, and is concise and well structured. This not only reflects your professionalism but also ensures that your message is clearly understood without room for misinterpretation.

You can use Grammarly’s AI letter writer to help you compose the first draft of a termination letter (or any type of letter) from start to finish in just a few clicks. But be sure to review and revise the result to make sure it fits the situation.

Pitfalls to avoid in a termination letter

Writing a termination letter requires a delicate balance between being clear and maintaining a tone of respect and professionalism. Here are some crucial pitfalls to avoid:

  • Vague language: Avoid being ambiguous about the reason for termination. Clarity is vital to preventing misunderstandings and potential legal issues.
  • Personal criticism: Keep the tone professional and focus on the facts. Personal attacks or emotional language can complicate the situation.
  • Leaving out important details: Details such as the effective date of termination and any severance package information should be clearly stated to avoid confusion.
  • Lengthiness: A termination letter should be concise. Unnecessary length can dilute the message and increase the risk of misinterpretation.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you can ensure that a termination letter is effective, professional, and respectful and reflects well on you and your organization.

Termination letter example


[Employee’s Name]

[Employee’s Department]

[Employee’s Address]

Dear [Employee’s Name],

This letter serves to inform you that your employment with [Company Name] will be terminated effective [termination date], due to [optional but advisable: general reason for termination—e.g., restructuring, performance issues, etc.].

In accordance with our policies, you will receive [details of any severance package, final paycheck, etc.]. Please return all company property, including [list of items], to [location or person], by [return deadline].

We remind you of your obligations under the [mention any relevant agreements the employee has signed], which remain in effect after your employment ends.

[Optional: information about outplacement services, unemployment benefits, etc.]

We thank you for your contributions to [Company Name] and wish you the best in your future endeavors. Should you have any questions, please contact [Contact Person’s Name and Information].



[Name and Title]

Key takeaways

It’s hard to have to let go of an employee, but remaining clear, fair, and dignified in the process can make it smoother for everyone involved. By ensuring your letter is free from grammatical errors, adopting a professional tone, and keeping the message concise and well structured, you set a respectful tone for the termination process.

Grammarly can aid in drafting and refining your letter, making it a powerful tool in your professional toolkit. Remember, a well-composed termination letter not only communicates the necessary information but also upholds the dignity of all parties involved, paving the way for a smoother transition.

Your writing, at its best.
Works on all your favorite websites
iPhone and iPad KeyboardAndroid KeyboardChrome BrowserSafari BrowserFirefox BrowserEdge BrowserWindows OSMicrosoft Office
Related Articles
Writing, grammar, and communication tips for your inbox.