Can you write a termination letter via email? In short, you probably shouldn’t, and it’s probably prohibited by your employment contract. In any contract, it’s going to state how you can terminate a contract. It could be either for cause, without cause, mutual termination, or maybe the initial term just ends. But in most cases, I mean most contracts are terminated via without cause termination. Without cause termination simply means the contract can be terminated by either party at any time with a certain amount of notice to the other. Normally, for most employment agreements, somewhere between 30 to 90 days is kind of a standard amount. If you are an employee and for whatever reason, you don’t want to work for the employer anymore, then you need to follow the terms of that without cause termination notice.
And it always needs to be written. It’s going to state it must be written. And then it will also state, obviously, if it’s a 60-day without cause termination, you have to provide it 60 days prior, you work out those next 60 days, and then after the 60 days are over with, then the contract terminates and you’re free to move on to where you want to go after that, taking into account if there’s a non-compete or a non-solicit, but we’re not going to get into that today. Now, the next section you have to look at, and the most important part as far as this goes is it’s going to be called notice or notices. And it’s usually toward the back of the employment agreement. And this is going to state, this is who, and then how you need to provide notice to, if there is communication.
In there, it will state, I have to provide in writing, a certified letter overnight hand delivery of whatever termination notice that you’re going to provide. And that would then be considered effective notice. Very few contracts allow email as an effective notice medium, meaning, if you gave, let’s just say, you wrote an email telling your employer, I’m giving you without cause termination notice, I have 60 days, X will be my last day of work, appreciate the opportunity. Well, if the email is not an effective communication medium within that notice section, that’s not considered effective notice. And then, the employer could make you work for another 60 days until you provide actual effective notice. So, that’s the most important part. You need to look in the notices section and then determine if an email is a proper way of terminating the agreement.
I can tell you if I review a hundred contracts, 98 of them will not include email or fax. And you certainly can’t just verbally tell your employer that you’re leaving. It must be in writing. And most often it has to be sent either by certified mail or hand delivered. Now, depending upon whether you work for a small practice or a big conglomerate that has locations in every state, it’ll be impossible to hand-deliver the notice if you must provide notice to the headquarters and that’s halfway across the country. So, just to be safe for the most part, you need to write the letter, you’re going to have to print it out, and send it via certified mail to whoever they must send it to. Usually, it’s one or two. If it’s a smaller practice, you usually just must send it to the owner.
If it’s a big conglomerate, then you have to send it to probably your boss plus the legal apartment of the company as well. If you kind of look through, alright, how much notice do I have to provide? And then how do I have to provide effective notice, you’ll be safe. I have a couple of scenarios and people have called me after the fact. And they’ll say I sent an email to my boss. I told them that I was going to terminate the contract and they just didn’t say anything. I just assumed that my contract would end on a certain date. And the employer was mad that the employee was leaving. They were ticked off that they were leaving. So, what they did is, they just sat on it for 45 days. And then 15 days before the physician thought he was going to leave, they said, you didn’t provide us with effective notice. Email is not an effective form of communication to provide notice. You owe us another 60 days until you give us effective notice, meaning, a written letter sent via certified mail. And so, the physician had already lined up another job, he had a start date in mind, and then he had to go back to the new employer and say, I apologize but I’m going to have to delay my start date by almost two months.
And that was a tough pill to swallow for the physician. So, if you follow the terms of the notice section, then you should be okay.
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