Both employers and employees understand that not every job will last forever. When it’s time to let an employee go, whether for cause, to reduce expenses, or for other reasons, a termination letter is the only way forward. Termination letters need to be factual and neutral and most importantly they should include real, specific and understandable justification of the termination.
Under Polish law, employment contracts may be terminated by each party (employer and employee) in regular mode, i.e. with the notice period. What is specific for Polish law, is that there has to be a concrete and objective reason for terminating the contract by the employer otherwise the employee may be reinstated by the court in the case of a court dispute.

What is also specific for Polish law, is that every employment contract (even a fixed term contract) may be terminated subject to the statutory notice periods. Therefore, even if an employee has a 12 months fixed term contract it can be terminated with implied, statutory notice periods. The contract expires automatically with lapse of the statutory period of notice.

What is an employee termination letter?

Employee termination letters inform employees of their termination, give any required notices under the employment law and tie up loose ends, such as how to return company property and how their benefits will be affected.
Even if the employee has been informed orally about the termination, there should be a written termination letter for paper trail purposes. Termination letters provide a written record of the dismissal, reasons for termination, reference to supporting documentation (such as written notices or performance evaluations) and can remind employees of their obligations under non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. If the employee pursues legal action, the termination letter can be used to show that the company met its obligations as an employer.
On a practical level, employee termination letters act as a guide to a dismissal. They can provide helpful information about any outstanding benefits owed, including unused vacation. If they had healthcare or other benefits during their employment, the termination letter lets the employee know when and how they will end. It can also provide directions as to how to return company property, and when their access to company systems will be revoked.
The legal form required for termination letter:
    • it should be made in writing (hard copy with wet signature), or
    • electronic form signed with qualified electronic signature.
    As regards the delivery of the termination letter:
      • as a rule, it should be delivered to the employee in person, ideally during the face-to-face meeting, or
      • exceptionally, the termination letter may be delivered by post to registered address or by email.

      Reasons for terminating the employment agreement


      The reasons for terminating the employment agreement with notice fall into two broad categories:
      A. termination for cause (misconduct or poor performance) 
      Termination letters in the case of negative assessment of the employee need to include real, specific and understandable justification of the termination.
      If the employee pursues legal action, they will have to prove that the reasons given by the employer were insufficient for dismissal or that the assessment was biased.
      B. termination as a result of restructuring (downsizing) 
      Termination letters in the case of reorganization also need to include real, specific and understandable justification of the termination. In most cases the only reason for termination is restructuring (downsizing).
      Downsizing is a process of strategic restructuring that involves reducing the number of personnel in an organization in order to cut costs and meet financial goals. It is typically used as a last resort measure when other cost-saving strategies have been exhausted.
      Generally, termination letters in each case should include:
      1. Date of the letter
      2. Reasons for termination (which are real, concrete and objective)
      3. Date when employment ends
      4. Previous verbal or written warnings (when dismissing for cause)
      5. Information about the right of appeal to courts
      6. List of company property to be returned


      Tips for drafting a termination letter

      Legal risk associated with the process of termination should be mitigated by careful planning and involving lawyers at an early stage. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
        • use a professional tone: The tone of the employer should be neutral and professional. Jargon, overly familiar language or anger should be avoided.
          • cover your legal bases: While drafting a termination letter, one should imagine that it could be read in court or included in a legal filing. You should collect (in advance) enough evidence to justify the termination decision in a factual tone, with supporting documentation where necessary. For instance, if the termination is due to poor attendance, the employer should have specific information and a list of the dates the employee had been out, etc.
            • company reputation should be protected: In the digital age, it’s easy for prospective employees to research the companies they’re interested in working for. If the termination process is chaotic and unprofessional, your reputation - and ability to attract top candidates - can suffer.
            Protection from dismissals

            It should be remembered that under Polish labour code all employees are protected against termination during leaves and employee’s justified absence. In addition to that, certain categories of employees are protected against termination if they meet certain criteria (e.g. pregnancy, pre-retirement age etc.). The termination letter delivered to an employee who is protected by law is contrary to the law. If the employee appeals to court, they will probably be reinstated to work. Whether it is downsizing or individual dismissal – the process should be well planned and supervised from the very beginning.
            To avoid unfair dismissal complaints, employers should plan the dismissal process carefully. Employees who have been wrongfully or unfairly dismissed can make a claim against their employer to an employment court.
            Usually, before an employer can lawfully dismiss an employee for poor performance, they must first show they have followed a process to allow the employee the opportunity to improve and meet the standards required in their role. Failure to follow a fair capability management process can lead to any resulting dismissal being deemed unfair and provide the basis of an unfair dismissal claim.
            Moreover, the employer should have sufficient evidence confirming poor performance. If the employer has a performance management process in place, it should be followed meticulously to address any performance difficulties with employees. Where a performance management process is lacking, it should be handled on an individual basis.

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