By Kasey Craven | At-Will Employment: Is it Time to Make a Change?

at-will employment contracts

I’ve been in the Staffing & Recruiting world for 25 years and have never really given much thought to “at-will” employment. While I have had to enforce those contracts many times throughout my career (and hated it every time), I never once thought about them and how unfair they were.

After reading the several articles like the one I mentioned in last week’s LinkedIn poll, I started thinking what if…”

What if we did away with the “at-will” employment contracts as they are typically written today which basically means an employer can walk in and fire you for really no reason at all. They can fire you because you wore red today or because you missed work last Monday to care for a sick child. They can fire you because you gained a little weight, because you drive a foreign car, because you don’t partake in the office happy hour socials, or because you vote Democrat or Republican.

I’m not asking we go to the opposite end of the spectrum as seen in some European countries where it takes an act of Congress to let someone go, or it takes an employee several months just to change jobs. This would be detrimental to our economy. But why can’t we have a modification to “at-will” employment contracts whereby a company REALLY does need a legitimate reason to let you go??

My suggestion: put in place a process, a warning system. A written warning between two parties with signatures to acknowledge the warning. This would be a good place to start.

Now, I feel I am a reasonable guy so I feel if Employees were to get something then I feel Employees should also give something in return. For this I suggest again something very basic like how about proper notice. In fact, let’s bump that out another week and say employees are obligated to give three weeks’ notice instead of two. Now if company X chooses not to keep you on that three weeks then you have to get paid out. However, if the employee leaves without the three weeks’ notice then yes there should be some industry standard repercussion. At this point I’m not sure what just yet, but I’m sure our fine collaborative country can come to some type of consensus…correct?

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