There are many reasons you may be asked to write a letter of employment, also known as an employment verification letter, for a past employee. The difficulty is knowing what information to include and, most importantly, what not to include.
This article explains what a letter of employment is, when you might need to write one, how to do so, and some alternative ways an employee’s work history can be validated.
A letter of employment, or an employment verification letter, is a formal correspondence to validate an employee’s work history.
You will generally be asked to write a letter of employment by the employee themselves or an interested third party.
An employee might need to validate their work history in the following contexts:
A background check will verify everything about an employee’s background, from their employment history to their previous addresses to whether they have a criminal record.
A reference check will be broader and often include details about the employee’s work performance, personality and work ethic.
In contrast, an employment verification letter will only include factual details about the employee’s employment, such as their job title and how long they have worked at the company. Its purpose is only to confirm an employee’s work history and eligibility to work.
To structure your letter correctly, follow these guidelines in order.
The way you approach writing a letter of employment will depend on who you are:
Every employment verification letter should include the following information:
Be aware that in some states, you will be required to obtain a signed release form from your employee to disclose any information in your employment verification letter.
There are no federal employment laws regarding what an employer can and cannot disclose regarding their employees and former employees. However, civil protections and state laws add additional protections for employees.
Employers should take a defensive stance when writing letters of employment, to avoid any expensive and time-consuming legal challenges by the employee.
Employment verification letters should only include verifiable facts, and not include details relating to the employee’s performance or overall character. Familiarize yourself with your state laws and keep your letter short and to the point.
Here are some key points on what not to include:
Other things employers should not disclose include:
Any other information that you choose to include, in addition to the dates of employment, is dependent on the identity of the requester and the context in which the letter of employment has been requested.
Here are some examples of information you could include within specific contexts:
In addition to the above information, you may also want to include:
In some states, it is illegal for employers to inquire about an employee's salary. If you are an employee, do not feel obligated to disclose your salary history.
If you are an employer, you should obtain written consent from the employee before disclosing any financial information.
In this situation, the requester wants to know if the employee is in steady employment and can maintain payments. They will require financial information but no information regarding the employee’s job role and responsibilities.
Make sure you include:
For example, if the employee’s spouse is seeking to live in the country, they may need to provide evidence that they can support them. These employment verification letters should include:
You may also want to get the letter notarized to add to its authenticity.
To give your employment verification letter legitimacy, it needs to be written in formal business English and impeccably formatted. Here are some tips for formatting your letter:
Here is an example to help you get started:
Subject: Employment Verification for [Employee]
To Whom It May Concern:
I am [Employee’s] line manager. I am writing to confirm that [Employee] has worked in a full-time capacity at this company since June 2017, in the position of Retail Sales Manager. Her responsibilities include driving sales of our products to supermarkets and other retail buyers, and promoting our brand. [Employee] also manages a team of four sales assistants.
If you have any further questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me on [phone number] or by emailing [email address].
[Your job title]
Depending on the amount and type of information requested, it may be more convenient to use one of these alternatives to verify an employee’s employment:
Some companies will provide you with a form to complete. Take care to fill in the sections as accurately as possible. However, look out for any questions which appear to ask you for confidential information. Never disclose confidential information, even if asked directly.
Sometimes it is easier to call the requester and verify the employee’s employment over the phone.
However, you cannot do this if you are the employee yourself. Also, certain requesters may require the verification in writing. For example, a bank may need written confirmation of an employee's salary before it can offer a mortgage.
If you have been asked to provide financial information, it may be easier to print the information directly from your payroll vendor.
Here's a summary of the key points included in this article to help you get started on your employment verification letter:
Learning how to write a letter for proof of employment is a matter of understanding exactly what information can and can’t be included. Just remember to keep your letter precise and to the point, and never be tempted to overshare.
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