When terminating any employee, you need to provide written notice and documentation of the termination. This is necessary for tax, legal, and ethical reasons. If you are not giving the employee a final check or wages as termination compensation, how can you give them written notice? is a text message considered written notice? This article explains why a text message is not considered written notice and different ways to provide termination documentation while staying compliant with company HR policies and state laws.
TEXT MESSAGES ARE NOT CONSIDERED WRITTEN NOTICE
A text message is not considered written notice for termination. A formal termination letter is the only legal way to terminate an employee. Any other method is not compliant with all state laws and could result in problems, mainly if a dispute arises. E-mail does not always provide the same level of documentation as a written notice letter, and a text message or other informal communications with the employee are not considered termination documentation.
IS A TEXT MESSAGE CONSIDERED WRITTEN NOTICE? WHY NOT?
A text message is not considered written notice because it is not a legal communication. There is no proof that the message was sent on a specific date. There is also no proof that the employee received the message.
Even if the employee did receive the message, there is no proof that they understood it. There are no follow-ups or details to clarify the termination, and there is no proof of the employee’s acknowledgment of the message. A text message is not the same as a written notice letter.
Written notice letters are sent to the last known address of the terminated employee. Suppose you terminate an employee by text message. In that case, you need to provide written notice via the employee’s last known address.
Other Ways To Comply With Written Notice Requirements
- Mail a termination letter. While this is the simplest and most common solution, it requires you to know the last known address of the terminated employee. If a dispute arises, the employee may claim that you did not provide the proper termination documentation.
- Send an e-mail to the last known address. E-mail is a common and easy way to send a termination letter. Ensure the e-mail is sent to the employee’s work address, not their private address. If a dispute arises, the employee may claim they did not receive the letter.
- Send a termination letter to the employee’s last known home address. This is another common and easy way to give employees proper termination documentation. Make sure that you have the employee’s most recent address on file. If a dispute arises, the employee may claim they did not receive the letter.
Navigating Legal Termination Requirements
- You are terminating an employee for cause. Terminating an employee for cause requires you to provide them with written notice. In these situations, you need to use the employee’s last known address. If you do not know the last known address, you can use the address on file for the employee.
- Terminating an employee without cause. Terminating an employee without cause requires you to give them at least two weeks’ written notice. You can terminate an employee without cause by using either the employee’s last known address or the address on file for the employee.
- Termination due to lack of work. Terminating an employee due to lack of work (layoffs) requires you to provide the employee with at least 30 days’ written notice.