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Show Cause Letter to Employee

Version 1.0 Updated 6 Dec 2017
Correspondence Separation

Who can use this correspondence?

This correspondence can be used by all employers.


This letter will assist employers in the disciplinary processes to inform an employee that they have the opportunity to show cause or provide reasons in mitigation as to why their employment should not be terminated. This letter may assist the employer to demonstrate that the employee was afforded procedural fairness.

In what circumstances will a show cause letter be appropriate?

This letter may be used by employers who consider that there are sufficient grounds to terminate an employee's employment.

These may be due to an employee’s ongoing behavioural or performance issues for which they have received recent and ongoing counselling or guidance, or because the most recent unsatisfactory conduct was of a serious nature (such as theft, assault etc) which would constitute serious misconduct.

In either event, this letter assumes that the employee has already been interviewed and asked to give his/her account of the facts relating to the most recent conduct, and that the employer has not made a final decision to terminate the employment, but is seriously considering that termination as the ultimate outcome.

Therefore, the purpose of this letter is to inform an employee that, whilst the employer has grounds to dismiss them, he/she is being given an opportunity to show cause as to why action should not be taken to terminate his/her employment.

Other necessary steps before initiating a show cause meeting

If you are unsure of whether an employee’s conduct is sufficient to warrant termination, you should seek specific advice prior to initiating a show cause meeting. Failure to do so may give rise to a number of legal consequences, including unfair dismissal proceedings.

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