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Official HR letters demystified: Getting up close and personal

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All employees require some or the other letter from their employers due to personal or professional reasons.

Most official letters are okay to be sent and stored in soft copy format; in the interest of the environment, this should be encouraged too. However, there are some HR letters that must be in hard copy format to be considered as indisputable valid documents that safeguard your interests. Signed and stamped, no less.

Did you know this? Let’s have a closer look.

The most commonly requested official letters/ documents are:

  • Offer letter
  • Appointment letter
  • Confirmation letter
  • Increment letter  
  • Transfer letter
  • Promotion letter
  • Appraisal letter
  • Address proof letter
  • Payslips
  • Experience letter/ salary certificate
  • Relieving letter
  • Employee bond

Offer letter

An offer letter is a letter of intent that is provided to a candidate after selection process is complete. It usually states the designation, salary structure, work timings and joining date along with few important clauses about probation and termination. An offer letter can be revoked due to any confidential reasons without disclosing it to the candidate.

A signed offer letter can either be delivered in person or sent via post. A scanned copy can also be e-mailed to the candidate.

Being a letter of intent, there’s no need for it to be sent necessarily as a hard copy. However, it serves as a reference for the appointment letter when issued so it’s good to have a paper copy.

Verdict: Hard copy preferred

Appointment letter

You must be wondering, what’s the difference between an offer letter and an appointment letter?

Well, though both the terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a big difference between the two. An offer letter is an intent extended to a candidate who’s not yet an employee. An appointment letter, on the other hand, is an indicator that the candidate is starting their employment with the company. It is given either on the date of joining or a few days later.

An appointment letter is more detailed than the offer letter and should ideally contain - designation, work/role expectations, probation period terms, salary structure, location of work, work timings, code of conduct, termination clauses, notice period, etc.

It should be printed on the company letterhead and signed and stamped by an authorized personnel (either the business owner or HR Head). A copy of this letter should be kept for company records as well after the employee has accepted it by signing on it. Both parties sign this letter as a token of mutual agreement on the terms and conditions mentioned in the letter.

Verdict: Hard copy mandatory

Confirmation letter

A confirmation letter is given to an employee, whose probation period doesn’t need an extension. If the employee has performed well and shown good behavior during his probation period, he/she is given a confirmation letter. Few companies extend the probation period for certain employees due to various reasons, such as performance issues, more training required, etc. So only a confirmed employee will get a confirmation letter within the stipulated time as per policy or after the extended probation period is over.

The confirmation letter mainly contains similar information as an appointment letter but mainly highlights changes in designation, role, location, work timings, termination clauses, notice period, etc. It also highlights if there is an increase in the salary or a change in the salary structure when moving from probation period to confirmation.

A confirmation letter is a legal document. It should be printed on the company letterhead and signed and stamped by an authorized personnel (either the business owner or HR Head). A copy of this letter should be kept for company records as well after the employee has accepted it by signing on it.

Verdict: Hard copy mandatory

Increment letter

An increment letter can be simply emailed to an employee with information about effective date and arrears, if any. It may also include comparison of previous salary structure with the revised one.

Verdict: Hard copy optional

Transfer letter

A transfer letter can be simply emailed to an employee with information about effective date, new job location, relocation process and reimbursement clauses, if any.

Verdict: Hard copy optional

Promotion letter

A promotion letter can be simply emailed to an employee with information about effective date, new designation/ role and changes in salary structure, if any.

Verdict: Hard copy optional

Appraisal letter

An appraisal letter is given to an employee post the appraisal interview/discussion and final decisions made. It should contain the appraisal result, score, ranking, grade, etc. Along with this information, any changes in role, designation, band and salary should be highlighted.

It may also include comparison of previous salary structure with the revised one, if there’s a change in the salary structure post appraisal.

An appraisal letter should be printed on the company letterhead, signed and stamped by an authorized signatory before being handed over to an employee. Both parties sign this letter as a token of mutual agreement on the terms and conditions mentioned in the letter.

Verdict: Hard copy mandatory

Address proof letter

This is a personal requirement for employees, who may need it for loan approvals from banks or other financial institutions. This is mainly required for employees who stay in PGs or in accommodations where they don’t have a legal rental agreement in place.

In such cases, you can email a soft copy of the residential address, as per your company records, along with employee’s name, employee ID and date of joining. Please note that some banks or institutions still ask for a physically signed and stamped address proof letter printed on the company letterhead.

Verdict: Hard copy preferred

Payslips

A payslip is a company-provided document that displays the salary components paid and deductions made for the employee for each month. These can be sent as soft copies to employees. However, in case an employee needs it signed and stamped for any loan approvals or other personal needs, it can be given in a hard copy format on a case-to-case basis.

Verdict: Hard copy preferred

Experience letter/ salary certificate

This is one of the most important documents that an employee requests for during his/ her exit. He/she needs to show this to the next company he or she’s likely to join.

This should be printed on company letterhead and signed and stamped by an authorized signatory.

Verdict: Hard copy mandatory

Relieving letter

Along with an experience letter/salary certificate, most of the companies ask for a relieving letter from an employee who’s joining them. This document displays the date of joining at that firm, date of resignation and last working day for the resigned employee.

This should be printed on company letterhead and signed and stamped by an authorized signatory.

Verdict: Hard copy mandatory

Employee bonds

An employee bond is essentially an agreement between an organization and an employee that he/she’ll work there for a specific period of time. Most often, this is used when fresh graduates join an organization, which then makes significant investment into their training. As the company is spending resources to get the employee productive to their levels, they expect that that employee will return that investment via the work they put in.

Similarly, if the company has sponsored on-site assignments or higher studies for a particular employee, a bond is signed to safeguard interests. There have been cases of bonds being contested in court, so they need careful crafting to ensure neither employee nor employer are penalized unfairly.

Verdict: Hard copy (on stamp paper) mandatory

How does greytHR help

greytHR allows you to select from multiple HR letter templates based on your specific requirement.  You can also create your own customized letter templates!

You can quickly mail or publish the required letter to the employee within minutes without wasting time to type out such letters each time you get a request from an employee! What more, each letter that you publish or mail has a password protect option too!

Apart from usual letter templates like offer letter, confirmation letter, address proof letter, etc., greytHR provides you with a very useful provision to print employee bonds directly on stamp paper. You can choose the ‘Legal’ template from our Template gallery. Just create a customized employee bond agreement based on your company’s policies, legal opinions and valid clauses.

After you’ve drafted and saved this bond in the Legal template, you can directly print this on stamp paper. The Legal template’s page settings match with the stamp paper’s dimensions. Therefore, printing it directly on stamp paper is very easy!

greytHR also provides you an option to digitally sign the letters when they are being generated. What more, you can also generate letters in bulk any number of employees!

Closing notes

No matter which official letter you send to your employees, make sure that it has accurate information. Always review and verify the facts before printing, emailing or publishing any letters for employees.

How do you generate official letters for your employees? What system (manual or software) do you use at your firm for generating letters, and why?

Let us know your views. We would love to hear from you.

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