employment termination, dismissal, discipline and grievance

writing letters of termination of employment, dismissal letters, samples of contract termination letters, employer discipline letters, employee grievance letters

Note: The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) statutory Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance became effective in the UK on 6 April 2009 and replaced the previous Disputes and Grievances Code issued in 2004.

See the page on resolving employment disputes.

If you are in the UK, you will find excellent free support and advice is available for employers and employees at ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

See the ACAS website for more details, and specifically the webpage about The New Workplace Problem-Solving Process, which ACAS says aims to achieve: "...Less emphasis on the mechanics of how to manage disciplinary issues, grievances and dismissals, and more flexibility to resolve problems at an early stage and in a way that suits you (employees and employers) best."

In more general support of these UK legal considerations, and also for regions of the world where employment law is less well-defined and developed, here are free letter templates and tips for writing employment termination letters. Included below also are employee grievance samples of letters templates.

Employers particularly must seek local (national) qualified advice where appropriate when formulating dismissal and grievance policies and when acting in these matters.

Employers must use proper employment termination and dismissal procedures to ensure that the process of leaving for the employee is fair, compassionate, professional and legally correct. Organisations are liable to dispute and potentially severe penalties if employment termination is for whatever reason not handled properly.

This guide does not deal with the detail of employment law, which varies internationally and over time.

Below is a general and global guide to good practice, within which you as an employer or manager should refer to and apply relevant detailed procedures for your own given situation.

 

If you are an employee with a grievance related to dismissal or other employment issue there are some sample letters for employees with grievances at the end of this article. There are also links to other useful guides and free resources for employees, employers, trainers and consultants at the end of the article.

This section is updated broadly with major changes in UK law, but should not be regarded as a technically current reference point for matters involving UK employment law, and certainly not outside of the UK. My thanks to Phil Pepper and ACAS for assistance relating to these improvements.

N.B. Spelling: UK-English for certain words appears on this website and sample letters, etc., for example on this page 'endeavours' instead of the US-English 'endeavors'. Organisation/Organization are also examples of different UK/US-English spellings. Please change the spellings for your own situation.

 

employment termination general guide

Employment termination by the employer normally falls into one of these categories: redundancy, misconduct, or poor performance (which may be due to various reasons, often not the fault of the employee). The central principles (not the process detail) for dealing with all of these situations are broadly similar.

Here are the three essential rules for proper employment termination:

  • Ensure you understand and apply the correct legal procedure for your situation. The process doesn't necessarily begin with the termination interview or letter, it can be deemed (by a subsequent tribunal, court, review body or process, for example assessing an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim) to have begun as early as when the employee was first recruited into the organization. If employment termination is due to redundancy check with the relevant government department for employment as to the proper procedures and statutory requirements relating to pay and notice periods, etc. Liaise as necessary with trades unions and other interested bodies to understand all of the facts, options and procedures. See more more detail on the employment disputes page).
  • UK and European laws have changed frequently in these areas, neverthless central principles provide a basis of best practice for other regions of the world in the absence of specific legislation, for example:
  1. Give reasons for the proposed dismissal to the employee in writing and give the employee a reasonable period during which to consider the facts and his/her response.
  2. Hold a meeting with the employee to explain the reasons and give employee the opportunity to explain his/her position.
  3. After the meeting give the employee the employer's decision in writing (whether to proceed with the dismissal or other action), and invite employee to make an appeal and attend an appeal meeting.
  4. After the appeal meeting the employer must confirm the appeal decision in writing.
  5. A manager of proper authority must attend meetings, and meetings must be at reasonable times and venues, also the employer must not delay unreasonably any of the stages in this process.
  • Concentrate on the facts of the situation, and the clear quantifiable measurements to support these facts. Ensure there is clear indisputable evidence for the facts and figures. This requires good record-keeping to be an essential part of the process, and therefore to also be a part of the management practice of the organization.
  • Be fair and compassionate. Even in situations involving gross misconduct - remember you are dealing with another human-being who has their own problems, probably now made all the worse because their employment is being terminated. They don't need you to start being vindictive, vengeful or spiteful and nor will any subsequent review process look kindly on any aspects of personally directed behaviour in the employer's handing of the situation.

     

These principles are also a good guide for terminating other forms of supply contracts. Suppliers come in all shapes and sizes and the separation between the rights of full employee and those of certain other contracted workers, agents, distributors, etc., is not as distinct as many people think. Sales agents, for example in Europe especially, have extremely strong rights when it comes to termination of contracts and agreements. Franchisees of all sorts, agency staff, and tenants with tied retail agreements with breweries, are among other worker-supplier groups whose rights have significant implications for 'employers' when terminating contracts and agreements. Always check the law and follow proper process. The consequences for employers and organizations for failing apply correct process when terminating employment or similar contracts are increasingly serious.

As a matter of philosophy - always try to part as friends, not enemies. Nothing is gained by alienating people who already see themselves as victims; negative treatment can prompt them to be vengeful, which does nobody any good at all. Also by keeping employment termination and dismissal letters positive you avoid risk of libel or defamation, which carry potential legal liabilities for the employer, irrespective of the circumstances and process of the dismissal itself.

sample termination letters and templates

misconduct or unsatisfactory performance

There are various situations which cause employment termination. Here is a general template which can be used as a basis for employment termination letters which result from misconduct or unsatisfactory performance. This example assumes that all appropriate steps have been taken by the employer to warn, help, and give suitable time and opportunity to the person to cease the offending behaviour, or to improve their performance, and that a final meeting has taken place at which verbal notification of the dismissal has been given.

 

sample dismissal or termination of employment letter

This is a general example of a termination letter. UK employers should refer to the process outlined on the dispute resolution summary page, and seek qualified advice where appropriate.


name, address, date, reference

Dear Mr/Ms/etc .........

Further to our meeting of (date) I (regretfully) confirm that your employment with us is terminated with effect from (date)/with immediate effect.

As stated at our meeting the reason(s) for terminating your employment with us is/are as follows:

  • (Employer must clearly state reasons - transgressions and relevant policies if applicable)
  • (Employer must clearly state previous warnings, informal, formal, written etc., and circumstances and person's response and subsequent behaviour/performance for each warning.)

(Clearly state requirements regarding return of documentation, equipment, car, submission of final expenses claims, and any other leaving administration issues.)

(Clearly state actual leaving date, requirement or otherwise to serve period of notice, holiday pay, and other pay and pension details.)

(Clearly state the position regarding the employee's right of appeal, and state the appeal process and timescales.)

(Optional sign-off, for example: Thank you for your past efforts and all the best for your future endeavours.)

Yours, etc.

name and position

(Optionally and recommended: attach, at the foot of the letter refer to, a copy of your written disciplinary process, and also attach and refer to copies of written/printed evidence gathered during the employee's case. This enables employees to understand clearly the case against them, and also the process and their rights during the disciplinary process, which are central to the principles of the employment dispute regulations.)

(Optional section at foot of letter, requiring person to sign, confirming receipt of the letter and any attachment(s), by way of returning a signed copy of this letter.)


 

employment termination due to redundancy

On occasions employer is forced to make a job position redundant. Sometimes a number of positions, or even a department or site team have to be made redundant. This results in redundancy for the people who hold the positions, unless alternative roles can be found and agreed. Large scale redundancies often involve negotiations with trades unions, workers representatives, and other interested bodies. This article does not seek to explain these processes, which vary widely, it simply suggests some style and framework ideas, and some basic letter templates. Make sure you obtain local qualified advice for your own situation, and whatever the outcome ensure you provide clear, full and compassionate information to the employees affected. (You must also provide clear information to the employees who'll be staying, so as to satisfy their concerns too.)

Here is a basic example of a redundancy letter to confirm redundancy. Employment law around the world varies as to redundancy process - ensure you understand what the law is and then follow the correct process. This basic letter template provides a start-point from which you can compile and include all the relevant detail applicable to the situation concerned. The nature of redundancy is often that individual employees have been performing perfectly adequately - the job itself becomes redundant, which makes the employee redundant. Always remember this. Be compassionate and face your responsibilities. It can be a wicked world - do what you can to make it less so - be compassionate in your communications and dealings with people who suffer redundancy. Aside from whatever consultative meetings are held in reaching redundancy agreements, if applicable, when it comes to the time to confirm the termination you must do all you can to meet the person or people face-to-face to explain and apologise for the situation. In recent years there have been some awful examples of employment redundancy in which managers and executives have obviously shirked this responsibility: redundancy notices have been issued by email or post without so much as a thank you, let alone a personal meeting. It might be difficult for the managers who have to bear the news, but it's a lot more difficult for the people losing their jobs. So be caring, and be compassionate. Treat people with respect.

sample employment redundancy letter


name, address, date, reference

Dear Mr/Ms/etc .........

Further to our meeting of (date) I (regretfully) confirm that your employment with us is terminated with effect from (date)/with immediate effect.

This is due to your position having to be made redundant, and in no way reflects your performance in your job, which has been entirely satisfactory/excellent.

(Optionally, if applicable, outline or explain the organizational or trading circumstances which have led to the redundancy.)

As stated at our meeting (and agreed with whatever body is relevant) the terms of your redundancy are as follows:

  • (Employer must clearly state all details of notice period and the redundancy settlement. Refer to the statutory norms, or procedures for notice and settlement, agreements with trade union(s), as applicable.
  • (Clearly state requirements regarding return of documentation, equipment, car, submission of final expenses claims, and any other leaving administration issues.)
  • (Clearly state actual leaving date, requirement or otherwise to serve period of notice, holiday pay, and other pay and pension details.)

(Clearly state the position regarding the employee's right of appeal, and state the appeal process and timescales.)

(Acknowledge the person's efforts and contribution. Offer to help with references. If applicable say that you would gladly re-employ the person should circumstances allow [which in many situations is the employer's legal obligation to do anyway]. Thank the person for their response to the situation and wish them all the best for the future.)

Yours, etc.

name and position

(Optional section requiring person to sign, confirming receipt, and return copy of this letter.)

(It is good practice to attach copies of all relevant policies and procedures, notably covering the disciplinary and dismissal process, and any supporting evidence for decisions.)


 

If in any doubt seek local qualified advice in all matters of redundancy, dismissal and employment termination.

Be caring and compassionate when dealing with employment termination, whatever the reasons for it.

 

a special note about redundancy...

The need to improve short-term profitability is rarely an acceptable reason for making people redundant, so if you ever find yourself being roped into such a conspiracy, try to do whatever good you can.

 

sample letters relating to disciplinary action, dismissal or appeal hearings

These particular letters are provided by the UK DTI in support of the law concerning Resolving Disputes at Work. These letters are subject to ©Crown copyright, and the source is the UK DTI). These letters and the processes described in the UK law also provide examples of best practice for countries elsewhere in the world.

 

letter to request an employee attends disciplinary hearing - sample letter/template

A letter of this sort should be sent by the employer to the employee, setting out the reasons for the proposed disciplinary action or dismissal and arranging the hearing.


name, address, date, reference

Dear................

I am writing to tell you that (organisation name) is considering dismissing/taking disciplinary action (delete as applicable) against you.

This action is being considered with regard to the following circumstances: (describe with relevant concise details, dates, etc.)

You are invited/requested to attend a disciplinary hearing on (date and time) is to be held at (venue) with (names of hearing panel) where this will be discussed.

You are entitled, if you wish, to be accompanied by another work colleague or a trade union representative.

Yours sincerely,

(from and signed by a manager of relevant authority)

(It is good practice to attach copies of all relevant policies and procedures, notably covering the disciplinary and dismissal process, and any supporting evidence for decisions.)


 

letter sent by employer after disciplinary or dismissal hearing - sample letter template


(name, address, date, reference)

Dear.................

On (date of first hearing notification letter) you were informed that (organisation name) was considering dismissing/taking disciplinary action (delete as appropriate) against you.

This was discussed in a meeting on (date of hearing)

Following that meeting, it was decided that:

Your conduct/ performance/ etc., was still unsatisfactory and that you be dismissed (or)

Your conduct/ performance/ etc was still unsatisfactory and that the following disciplinary action would be taken against you (describe fully). (or)

No further action would be taken against you.

(and if applicable:)

I am therefore writing to you to confirm the decision that you be dismissed and that your last day of service with the Company will be (date)

The reasons for your dismissal are (describe fully and refer to regulations, laws, or rules breached).

(or if applicable:)

I am therefore writing to you to confirm the decision that disciplinary action will be taken against you. The action will be (describe fully). The reasons for this disciplinary action are (describe fully):

(and mandatory inclusion:)

You have the right of appeal against this decision. Please appeal in writing to (name, title, address) within (whatever agreed/policy timescale) days of receiving this disciplinary decision.

Yours sincerely

(from and signed by a manager of relevant authority)


 

notice of appeal hearing from employer - sample letter template


(name, address, date)

Dear.................

You have appealed against your dismissal (or disciplinary action) notified to you on (date), confirmed to you in writing on (date).

Your appeal will be heard on (date and time) at (venue) by (name).

You are entitled, if you wish, to be accompanied by another work colleague or a trade union representative.

The decision of this appeal hearing is final and there is no further right of review.

Yours sincerely

(from and signed by a manager of relevant authority)


 

result of appeal hearing letter from employer to employee - sample letter template

(name, address, date)

Dear.................

You appealed against the decision of the disciplinary hearing that you be dismissed/subject to disciplinary action (delete as appropriate). The appeal hearing was held on (date an time) at (venue) with (names of appeal panel).

I am now writing to confirm the decision taken by (name of head of appeal panel) who conducted the appeal hearing, namely that the decision to (describe original hearing decision) stands. (or)

The decision to (describe original hearing decision) be revoked (specify if no disciplinary action is being taken or what the new disciplinary action is).

You have now exercised your right of appeal under the Company Disciplinary Procedure and this decision is final.

Yours sincerely

(from and signed by a manager of relevant authority)


© sample letters templates relating to disciplinary hearings: Crown Copyright, Source DTI.

 

employees grievance letters samples and templates

If seeking to pursue a grievance issue, employees should refer to the grievance procedures published by their employer. In the UK there are discipline and grievance regulations, effective October 2004, providing for this and more information is available via the links at the end of this article. For the rest of the world the UK procedures and laws provide examples of best practice and a process outline to follow. If you are not in the UK check your employer's grievance and discipline policy, and the employment laws governing these activities. These letters are subject to © Crown copyright, and the source is the UK DTI.

Employees should write to the person stated in their grievance policy, or if none exists to a senior line manager or director, ideally with a copy to the employee's line manager, although not under such circumstances as would create additional difficulties for the employee (for example if the grievance involves sensitive issues which the employee prefers not to be divulged to the line manager at this stage).

Ensure letters include the employee's full contact details, for home and work.

 

employee raising a grievance - sample letter template


(name, address, date)

Dear...............

I am writing to tell you that I wish to raise a grievance.

This action is being considered with regard to the following circumstances: (describe concisely and clearly with facts and dates, etc.)

I am entitled to a hearing to discuss this matter; also I am entitled, if I wish, to be accompanied by another work colleague or my trade union representative. (These entitlements exists in the UK - check your law if you are in a different country).

Please reply within (not more than 28 if subject to UK law) days of the date of this letter. (In other countries check your policy or law, and if no standard is stated then 28 days is a very reasonable timescale to suggest. In small companies you should expect and could ask for a quicker timescale, for example a week or two weeks).

Yours sincerely

Signed etc.


 

employee request for grievance appeal hearing - sample letter template


(name, address, date)

Dear...............

On (date) I was informed that (name of employer) had decided to (state decision and/or action by the employer) based on my grievance of (date or period of incident giving rise to grievance) which I raised on (date of first grievance letter) to (person letter sent to).

I would like to appeal against this decision. I wish the following information to be taken into account: (state reasons, mitigation, justification, etc.)

Please reply within (timescale as appropriate - max 28 days, less if practicable) from the date of this letter.

Yours sincerely, etc.


 

employee request for appeal hearing - sample letter template


(name, address, date)

Dear...............

On (date of employer's letter to employee or first verbal notification) I was informed that (name of employer) was considering/had decided dismissing/taking disciplinary action (delete or replace as appropriate) against me.

I would like to appeal against this decision.

I wish the following information to be taken into account (state reasons, mitigation, justification, etc., which might benefit from expansion/further detail or perspective, evidence, etc., compared to previous letter)

Please reply within (timescale as appropriate - max 28 days, less if practicable) from the date of this letter.

Yours sincerely, etc.


© sample letters templates relating to disciplinary hearings: Crown Copyright, Source DTI.



see also

Other communications and work materials:


authorship/referencing

Alan Chapman/Businessballs

Please see additional referencing/usage terms below.