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Understanding the pros and cons of at-will employment

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2022 | Wrongful Termination

In the workforce, there are many different types of contracts between employees and employers, but the default type in Indiana and throughout the country calls for at-will employment. Although this type of agreement comes up often in employment situations, many people do not really understand what it is and how it works.

According to statistics from job listing sites, approximately 74% of employees in the United States are at-will employees. However, many of those employees are not happy or comfortable with that employment arrangement. They feel that the agreement affects their workplace experience and they do not agree with the conditions of the arrangement.

Examining what at-will employment means

At-will employment refers to an arrangement in which employers have the right to terminate the employment of an employee at any time for almost any reason without an explanation, a reason or any advance notice. However, employers cannot terminate employment for a reason that breaks state or federal laws, such as anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation laws.

Under the at-will arrangement, it is within the rights for the employer to change the agreement that the employer has with the employee regarding wages, schedule, and benefits whenever that employer wishes to do so without notice.

What do employees get out of it?

On the other side, employees can walk away from their job without notice or explanation. With that said, it is still considered responsible behavior for the employee to give notice in the interest of protecting their reputation and not burning any bridges. Doing the right thing and behaving properly often takes precedence over behaving impulsively, even if it is within the legal rights of the employee. Just because a person can do something does not mean that they should do something.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of at-will employment?

Because employers are able to change the employee’s terms of employment as they wish, the objectives of the company may be met more easily than if the employer has a more employee-friendly employment agreement with the employee. Also, nothing in the at-will relationship prevents the employer from rewarding the employee based on their merits. Another advantage for employers with at-will employment is that adjustments can be made as the business changes so that the new goals of the business can be met easily. Employees benefit from at-will employment because they have control over their work situation and can choose to walk away when they wish to do so.

One disadvantage is that the group of employees may not be stable and consistent because they can leave when they wish. This may negatively affect the business performance. Another aspect that can be impacted is morale. There may be a lot of stress and insecurity because the bottom can fall out at any minute.

Protecting your rights

Although at-will employment allows employers to get away with a lot, the employer must still obey certain rules. This is where a knowledgeable employment lawyer’s advice in Indianapolis may prove to be extremely valuable for workers. As the employee, you still have rights that must be protected. Solid legal support may make all of the difference to you and to your future.


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