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Use this sample termination letter for poor performance

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

An unfortunate truth in business is that there may be a time when you need to use a sample termination letter for poor performance. This is never pleasant, but a reality of doing business in today's world.

As every business knows, such a termination can be needed for many reasons. However, one thing is for sure: Regardless of why you may need an employee termination letter for poor performance, it is always better to have a sample termination letter for poor performance. Doing so can save you time and make life much easier.

Why would you need a sample termination letter for poor performance?

  • Have written documentation: It is best to have written documentation that explains when employment is over. This way, there is no confusion about the end date, date of the last paycheck, and date on which benefits will terminate.

  • Avoid legal issues: You can lay out, in writing, the reason for the employment. Doing so reduces confusion and ensures that you are legally protected if there are any issues at a later date, including claims that someone was fired for discriminatory reasons.

  • Good for record keeping: It is good for your written records and can fit into the employee's file. This way, if anyone asks for clarification about the employee's status at a later date or if they file for unemployment, you have all of the appropriate letters.

  • Assists the employee: It can be legitimately helpful to the employee. They can see this letter in writing and understand that their employment is now ending. Seeing this information laid out can help give them the closure they need to begin to move on with their career.

  • Potentially legally required: It may be a requirement of your state or of any collective bargaining. You should speak with an attorney or HR representative to get more information about your state's specific requirements.

Related Content: Template for extending a job offer to prospective employees

Sample termination letter for poor performance

Address 2
Dear Employee Name,
This letter is to inform you, in writing, that we have decided to terminate your employment with COMPANY NAME. Your last day with Company will be on DATE at the close of business. (or you can use: Your employment with Company is hereby terminated immediately.)
The reason for your termination is as follows:
Specific reasons for termination. For example:
On January 3rd, you violated the conduct policy (Employee Handbook, pg. 31) for the fourth time. While we reserve the right to terminate employment at any point in the disciplinary process, we verbally warned you, warned you in writing, and then suspended you without pay for a week for violating this policy. Subsequently, when you violated the dress code policy a fourth time, we made the decision to terminate the employment relationship.]
You failed to meet employee expectations after repeated performance reviews and warnings, and your poor performance was not meeting the previously agreed-to metrics for performance improvement.
Your exit interview is scheduled for date and time. Additional information about the termination process and potential resources will be available then. You are required to return all company property and equipment at this time. See below for a list of items that must be returned. Please contact HR Manager at email or phone number with any questions and let us know if your address changes to ensure that you receive all notices and documents from the company. At that time, you will also learn about your final paycheck and when your benefits will terminate.
List of equipment that must be returned such as:
Laptop computer
Computer equipment
Company cell phone
Access badge/keys

Items you need to keep in mind

Before you write the letter, there are a few things to keep in mind: "Before writing a termination letter for poor performance, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let's break down what details should be considered and why:

  • The reason for the termination: A letter of termination of employment due to poor performance should accurately describe all the reasons the employee in question is being terminated.

  • Opportunity for discussion: You should be prepared for the employee to dispute the reasons for the termination, even if it was for poor performance, absenteeism, or something else. Make sure you have documented all grounds for the termination and are ready to move forward with the termination process.

  • Conversations with all parties involved: Anything you put in the letter will unquestionably be part of a written court record if there are any disputes about the termination. As such, make sure to vet the letter with any involved parties. These parties may include the employee's supervisors, legal, and HR.

  • Builds a good post-work relationship: The goal of this letter isn't just to provide clarity to the employee. It is also to ensure that you are building a good relationship with the employee. As such, don't use the letter to settle scores and say nasty things about their performance. Instead, be honest and truthful, but remember that no good comes from writing a letter that comes across as spiteful, mean, or immature.

  • Have a record retention policy: Make sure to put the letter in the employee's file and have appropriate document retention policies to ensure that you keep this letter. In addition, you will want to ensure you have all of this paperwork for a long time, possibly even years later, as you never know if there may be a legal challenge to this or any other termination.

Looking for more HR resources, tips, and templates?

Needing to fire an employee is never a good experience. It can be stressful, emotional, and painful. However, working with your human resources department, you can create a sample letter that ensures such a termination letter is ready to go if you ever need one.

Are you looking for additional assistance for your HR? Do you need help managing your HR? Teamworks Group is here to help. Check out the resources we have to offer, including:


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