Informational interviews are typically associated with jobseekers looking to expand their network or to learn more about a specific career field, company, or job title. But in today’s market, where nearly 80% of candidates are not actively looking for a job, this long-time job search tool can also be a great recruiter and hiring leader outreach technique.
As you write your contract termination letter, focus on informing the terminated employee of the nuts and bolts they need to know, like when their last paycheck will be delivered and what will happen to their health insurance. Similarly, keep your message clear and respectful, even if you’re terminating the relationship due to performance-related or behavioral problems.
How to Write a Contract Termination Letter
1. Any reason at all doesn’t mean any reason at all.
Before you write a contract termination letter to an at-will employee, check the records and review the facts. While employees are free to leave for almost any reason, you absolutely may not terminate an employee for unlawful reasons, like discrimination or retaliation. Familiarize yourself with your state’s wrongful termination laws and review your interactions with the employee; if your company is in the wrong and you know it, choose another course of action. If not, proceed with your current plans to write a contract termination letter.
2. Focus on diplomacy.
Once the relationship is severed, you’ll want maintain an atmosphere of goodwill as best as possible. The right letter won’t just help support your case in the event a lawsuit comes your way; it can also help protect your company’s reputation so you maintain access to the best talent in the marketplace. In the modern world, social media—and the social landscape in general—rule all. Just as jobseekers are told “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know,” employers can benefit from the same advice. If former employees speak well of you, your company will thrive and grow. If they don’t, the damage to your brand can be deep and far-reaching.
You want happy former workers who feel that they’ve been dealt with fairly, not confused or angry parties who feel blindsided or misled.
As you begin to format and write a contract termination letter, break your outline down into three essential components: 1) your primary termination announcement, 2) next steps and 4) additional resources. You can add or remove sections as the situation warrants, but begin with these three basic elements and assume you’ll need a short paragraph for each one.
4. Begin with the central points.
The primary message of your letter should appear in the first paragraph. State that the company has decided to end the relationship and clearly communicate the employee’s final day of employment. For example, “This message serves to terminate the existing agreement between you, (the person’s name), and (your company’s name), effective immediately, (date).
5. Deliver a message of positivity.
If your reason for termination is not performance-related or linked to behavioral issues, you may want to include a short statement that suggests the termination is not personal. It’s not easy to write a contract termination letter that feels congenial, but do your best. State that you’ve enjoyed the relationship or appreciate the service your employee has provided.
6. Explain the reason for termination.
While some states require this, many do not, which means that you get to decide whether or not you want to explain why you’re letting someone go. Many professionals, including those at the Society for Human Resource Management, consider relaying this information best practice as it can help support your case in the event your terminated employee later bays a charge against you. If you do decide to communicate this info, be careful not to send a mixed message; if your description of the employee appears glowing, more questions may arise about the reasoning for the termination. And as always, get legal sign-off.
7. Describe the next steps.
Use the fourth section of your letter to resolve open-ended issues and explain what your reader will need to do next. Keep your instructions clear and simple, and again, keep your legal team in the loop. You may need to retrieve building keys, company equipment or computers, access codes, or documents, and you may need to compensate your employee for the hours they’ve worked and their unpaid vacation time.
You may also need to address issues of transitional health insurance (like COBRA) or reimbursements for recent travel. If you can’t wrap up these loose ends within the limits of a single letter, attach necessary documents to your correspondence.
8. Provide resources.
When you write a contract termination letter, you can expect your employee to have additional questions, so as you sign off, clarify the contact person who can provide the answers. Share the phone number or email address of this person or entity, and then end your message with a brief and respectful closing.