HR management platform
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Thank you! You are subscribed to our blogs!
Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again.

Employment at-will

What is Employment at-will?

Employment at-will is a contractual relationship between employers and employees, where an employer has the right to terminate an employee from their job at any time and for any (or no) reason. With such a contract, employees may also be free to terminate their own position without warning to their employer. There is no predefined legal requirements in terms of notice periods either. This means terminations can be undertaken without any prior notice.  

Employment at-will

Exceptions to Employment at-will

However, employment at-will comes along with some caveats. Some situations may require either an employer or an employee to follow stricter guidelines than what is usual for employment at-will. Following are a few examples of such exceptions:

1. Employment contracts

An employee who has an employment contract or who is covered under a collective bargaining agreement may have rights not afforded to individuals under employment at-will. 

2. Implied contracts

An implied contract may prevent an employer from firing an employee, regardless of whether or not a legal document exists. However, such an agreement can be difficult to validate, and that burden rests with he employee. The employer’s policy book, or new-hire handbook might indicate clauses that support the employee’s claim to only be subjected to termination under a good cause. 

3. Good faith and fair dealing

An implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is another exception to employment at-will. Under this scenario, employers are not allowed to fire employees in order to avoid duties, such as paying for healthcare, retirement, or commission-based work. 

4. Public policy

Employers are not permitted to fire-at-will of the action violates their state’s public policy exception. Under the scenario, employers aren’t allowed to fire or seek damagers from an employee of the employee’s reason for leaving benefits the public.