Notice to Explain (NTE)

Dear Se7en,

The company that I work for has a strict attendance policy. What happens is that for every incident of tardiness or absence, there is a corresponding point, the total points that a person can have is 8 and if you reach that, by policy, you are subject to termination. My recent absence has bumped up my points to the max and I am really worried about my status here. I want to keep this job and I love this company. Thing is, I do not know what to do or how to do it. Although my TL has been very understanding, I am really upset at HR. My TL advised that HR will be sending me a Notice to Explain and there, I will be required to respond. Am I going to be terminated? Please, I really need your help.


Dear Marko,

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I would be distraught if I were in your case, but being upset is the last thing you need. Let me tell you why.

First and foremost, I am aware with the attendance point system you are referring to; the organization I work for use the similar way to address attendance concerns. Second, you must understand that it takes several instances of tardiness and absenteeism to reach the eighth point. Third, as long as it is less than 8, your TL can assist you. However, because you’ve exhausted it, your TL has no choice but to give way to the process. Keep in mind that termination begins and ends with you. Your TL’s responsibility is just to document the incident, and in this scenario, he has no alternative but to defer to HR because this is technically out of his hands.

You wouldn’t want to be angry right now. If there is one person who deserves your anger, it is you. Remember that HR, your TL, or the firm did not ask you to be late or absent; you opted to be late or absent based on the circumstances at the time of the incident. However, you cannot use the circumstance as an excuse because what is at stake here is your capacity and commitment to maintain your end of the bargain – to be there at work when you are required to.

What will happen?

Typically, when the final straw has been drawn (by you), your TL will be obligated to provide HR a report outlining the infraction, the number of points incurred, the date, and so on. Following the evaluation and validation of the record, you will get a NOTICE TO EXPLAIN (NTE), to which you must respond in writing within 5 to 7 days. The NTE will go through your attendance infraction and ask you to explain why you have 8 points, and because this is a terminable penalty, you must include an appeal as to why they should give you another chance and where you need to focus.

An employee’s tendency when he is in this situation is to play the blame game, hate his TL and HR, and, more often than not, fail to look deep into himself to find out what caused the problem. The same hatred will push them to think that they no longer have a chance, so either they misbehave more at work, become disrespectful and unprofessional, or worse, would go on AWOL. Of course, this type of response only results in an escalated situation, resulting in the person losing his job. However, the NTE means you still have a chance to explain yourself; you’re still with the company, after all.

HR will schedule a hearing after receiving your response. Several leaders (not your manager) as well as an HR representative will be present. During a hearing, the panel will present the case to you, and you will be required to defend yourself. They will then assess if you are worth retaining or letting go. The worst error you can make here is to blame your flaws on someone else (blame your TL, blame your health, the situation at home, or the company policy). This will demonstrate to the panel that you have no acknowledgement of your responsibilities and no regret for what you have done. Playing the blame game will result in your termination.

What can you do?

The first thing you should do is relax. What’s going on is the effect of your actions. As a result, you must confront it squarely. Second, instead of disliking and worrying about the bad repercussions, put your energy into composing the explanatory letter and an appeal. If your letter is persuasive enough, the hearing may not even be required.

When writing the Letter of Explanation, remember the following:

  • The objective is to KEEP THE JOB.
  • It is an appeal letter, not merely an explanation. As a result, the general tone of your communication should be one of regret.
  • Use work-related examples to demonstrate why you should be retained (assignments given to you by your TL, the outcome of a project, your scorecard, CSAT results, commendations, awards won, citations, etc.).
  • Demonstrate remorse. There will be no blaming. There will be no projection.
  • Discuss your company’s ambitions over the next few years (e.g., I was aiming for a Team Leader post within the next two years, and I am currently in the process of working with my Team Leader to improve my skills and competencies, etc.).

As I stated earlier, if your letter of explanation is satisfactory, the hearing may not be required; nevertheless, if the hearing is required, do not be concerned. Remember that the hearing is a necessary step in the process; it is an opportunity to explain your circumstances and demonstrate your worth. Follow the same steps as before, but this time you’ll be able to SHOW them how honest and remorseful you are. Admit your regret, acknowledge your obligations, and the worth of your work, and then ask for a chance to keep your job with a vow to improve. Here, you must sell yourself by displaying the precise facts presented in the letter (consistency is crucial), by describing your scorecards, project results, an endorsement letter if possible, and so on. By providing details about your work, you demonstrate to them that you are a person who achieves outcomes, that you are enthusiastic about your profession, and that you are valuable.

Remember, the panel’s priority throughout the hearing is to hear your side of the story, NOT to dismiss you. Your managers would have fired you by now if they wanted to.

When I was in this situation some years ago, I said during my initial statement at the hearing, “I want to sincerely thank everyone for being here to listen to my side of the story.” At the same time, I’d want to apologize for taking an hour of your time to come here instead of concentrating on your tasks to help the company succeed.

To summarize a long story, they gave me a chance. Months later, one of the panelists (a manager from a different business unit) said she would never forget me or that hearing. Despite the enormous pressure the procedure causes, she has never seen anybody thank and apologize to the panel “for being there.” “I realized right there that you were different, that you will be ascending the corporate ladder and had to be given a chance,” she said.

Marko, as I’ve mentioned, you can be upset, but you need to re-focus your energy on the task at hand. You aren’t terminated yet; however, if you fail to prepare for your letter and the upcoming hearing, you might as well resign. It is an option, but why settle for quitting when you can give it one more fight? After all, if you win this bout and are given a chance, it’s like being born again.

Let me know if you need more help.


One response to “Notice to Explain (NTE)”

  1. thank you! though my case is different, this response would be a big help in terms on how to handle the situation.

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