Sometimes called “employment letters,” “employer letters,” or “personnel letters,” human resource (HR) letters are an important form of communication between an employer and employee or prospective employee. In addition, they serve as documentation about the communication. They can cover a wide array of the employment relationship, such as:
- Acknowledging a receipt of a résumé
- Making a job offer
- Rejecting a candidate
- Welcoming a new employee
- Notifying an employee of a promotion
- Recognizing an employee for superior performance, and
- Disciplining an employee
These letters must be coherent, informative, and legally sound. In many cases, these letters must satisfy the goals of avoiding, reducing, or resolving liability. For example, it is in the employer’s interest to preserve the at-will relationship. Under the at-will doctrine, which is the standard in the vast majority of states, either the employer or employee may, subject to certain exceptions, terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. Courts have found that statements made in offer letters and other written statements made to employees can create an implied contract that alters the at-will relationship.
In the case of offer letters, the most important thing an employer should do to preserve the at-will relationship is to include a disclaimer prominently in the offer letter. State courts have set different standards for how and when an implied contract may be created, and employers must make sure that the disclaimer contains the language required in their state. Employers should also have their legal counsel review letters.
In addition, letters from HR, like all business letters, should always be checked for accuracy, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. When you go over the document:
- Make sure you have included everything. Check your outline, old drafts, notes, or the letter to which you are responding.
- Check for a logical flow throughout. Is it easy to follow or do you jump from one idea to another?
- Double-check any facts and figures. Errors, especially careless ones, jeopardize the credibility of the document, your company, and you, the writer!
- Check for consistent tone. This helps you achieve the desired results from the correspondence and avoid confusion
- Check construction and grammar. Read the document over several times. Run spelling and grammar checks. If you are still unsure, ask a trusted co-worker to review the document for you.
Creating all of the necessary HR letters from scratch is a time-consuming and labor-intensive project. BLR has created more than letters to help HR professionals do their job faster and easier. HR professionals can customize them to their specific needs.
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