The At-Will Employment Doctrine Essay

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The At-Will Employment Doctrine

Student Name

Institution of Affiliation

Merits and Demerits of the At-Will Employment Doctrine

     At-will employment refers to a non-contractual engagement between an employer and an employee, that the latter will provide their services as long as they are needed. It also includes any employment whose terms of engagement mention the term, “at-will” in the documents. These agreements are legal in all the USA states except Montana, where a contract is mandatory during employment. Though legal, the employer and employee relations are guided by other regulations like the public policy, the implied contract, and the implied covenant of reasonable faith exceptions (Sale, 2018). Such employments present some benefits and problems for the employer and employee, as discussed below.

     One of the advantages of at-will employment is an employee’s flexibility to seek better opportunities as they increase their experience. Sale (2018) describes that at-will employment agreements allow employees to apply for other positions; even in competitor companies, and shift jobs at their pleasure. On the other hand, the employer can hire or fire the employee depending on their output. Under an at-will employment engagement, few legal cases can arise because there are no terms of engagement. This arrangement benefits the employer by ensuring that they only pay for their current business requirements and forego extra costs that would be incurred in contractual employments. Additionally, an employee enjoys recognition for their hard work and gets better promotion chances based on merit.

     The disadvantages of at-will employment affect both parties. The employment process in this model is either slow or fast, depending on various scenarios like skills availability and employer’s financial position. Sale (2018) explains that an employer may have to hire several workers before getting the required prowess in certain positions. Also, an employee may get hired temporarily in numerous companies, which would tarnish his reputation. The lack of contractual terms opens up grounds for exploitation and bias because the employee has to follow the employer’s guidance (Sale, 2018). Therefore, in at-will employment, the employee cannot engage the employer in improving the work culture like safety or vacation terms.

     As discussed above, at-will engagements are not governed by any contracts and are decided upon by the employer. On one side, it is beneficial to both parties. One can look for greener pastures while still earning, an employer can fire an underperforming worker without litigations, and the employer reduces their production costs by evading contractual costs. On the other hand, disadvantages include job insecurity for employees and irregular business performance due to the slow or fast hiring processes. Also, it leads to exploitation because policies or contractual terms do not guide the employment process.


Sale, J. (2018). Harmonization of labor laws: An Arduous Journey for ASEAN. The work, education & Research Journal, 27(3). doi:10.1080/4722164851348755

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