Laying employees off can be a difficult task. Writing a memo that will put people out of work and without an income to support themselves and their families isn't a task many employers want to face. If you find yourself in a position where economic times and lack of revenue force you to downsize your work force, though, writing a layoff memo will be your first course of action. A well-phrased layoff memo can help your company avoid legal issues and complications that might arise during the layoff process.

Step 1.

Write with a tone that expresses sympathy toward the employees being laid off. Express your regrets at having to let them go. The right tone can help ease the tension that will be present during a layoff and can help lessen the chance of angering your laid-off employees.

Step 2.

Be honest. Explain in detail why you need to lay off your employees. If the reason is based upon a lack of demand or loss of profits, give the financial details. If there is a chance you may call employees back, explain clearly how the process might occur if it does. Do not ensure employees they are being temporarily laid off unless that is the case.

Step 3.

Explain the company's policy on selecting employees to be laid off. Be sure the policy is in writing. This can help alleviate the chance for a lawsuit from an employee who might suggest he was picked for layoff for personal reasons. If your company lays off employees who have less time with the company, state that in the memo, and refer to the written policy.

Step 4.

Explain any severance packages available and whether or not the laid off employees will have the option of keeping company benefits.

Step 5.

Close the memo by stating the company will be happy to provide references to laid-off employees seeking a job elsewhere. Once again, express your regret, and thank the employees for their service to the company.