how to write a layoff letter

Posted in Relations
at 2014.06.09
With 0 Comments

For most employers, layoffs are very tricky and can lead to unnecessary legal actions in court if poorly written, especially if many people are affected. Terminating a job is never received politely. For that reason, as an employer, you have to be careful with the kind of layoff letter you write. Although the employer writes termination letters, an attorney needs to be consulted before sending it to the soon-to-be-unemployed staff member. A boss needs to accustom him or herself with a number of aspects on how to write a layoff letter.

Some of the important aspects include legal mandate, tone of the letter, method used, criteria followed, and the right reasons for layoff. For example, a wrong termination criteria or reason can spark outrage from an employee, who can then take the advantage of the situation to sue the company. Therefore, ensure that everything about the layoff letter is legally correct and precise.


No Surprises

To make a smoother layoff and not to surprise anyone, you can create notices, explaining a layoff in a straightforward and a respectful manner. This way, when you officially write the letter, no one will be surprised thus making things a bit easier.


Short, Precise Reason

When informing a worker about a job termination, ensure the REASON for layoff is provided in a short and precise statement – without much ambiguity. In other words, just be truthful and stem the reason to department elimination, financial difficulties, merger, increased competition, or any other transparent explanation.

Transparent Layoff Criterion

The criterion used in termination ought to be unintentionally discriminative to neither women nor minorities. Here, an employer needs to be wary and cautious. For instance, if the worker receiving the layoff letter is a female (or a minority), then you will need to give an explanation like; complete elimination of a department or reduced productivity level – without linking the explanation to protected categories such as religion, gender, race etc.


Explain Payments and Entitlements

A layoff letter should also explain Payments and Entitlements. Make sure you mention and explain in details any entitlements to bonuses, holiday leave, overtime, continuation of benefits, severance of packages, and final pay.


Clarify Layoff Situation

Never forget to clarify layoff situations. For example, explain the requirements for returned equipment and use of employer vehicle, if any. In the letter, you can invite the employee to meet with Human Resource department to discuss any outplacement benefits. You can add a telephone number for further enquiries.

While writing the letter, shun away from a sugarcoating language and just be direct. Avoid words like:

  • “You are a valued servant”
  • “Your work is appreciated”
  • “The company did everything but…” etc.


In a nutshell, don’t give an employee the ammunition to have the capability of claiming that the company did not explain the layoff procedure, or did not carry out the layoff in a legal and appropriate manner. That’s why an attorney needs to review the letter before delivering it. Hopefully, this guide on how to write a layoff letter will be of great use to you.


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