“Employment at-will” and “right-to-work” are often referenced in regards to employment and termination situations. Employers need to understand the difference (and the implications) between employment at-will and right-to-work as many of these regulations are also dependent on the state where the company is located and where it does business.
In general, all states are considered employment-at-will states. Either the employer or the employee can end the employment relationship at any time with or without cause, as long as it is not based on an illegal reason. Some exceptions to consider include:
- Employers should not terminate an employee for any “protected” reason (i.e. age, religion, or sex).
- Your company’s Employee Handbook may state that certain procedures must be followed before termination of an employee.
- Employment contracts (i.e. collective bargaining agreements, individual agreements) may be in place.
Currently enforced in many states, right-to-work statutes do not involve resigning or being discharged from a job. In right-to-work states (i.e. Florida, Texas, Wyoming), an employee has the general right to work for a company without any requirement to join or financially support (i.e. dues, fines) a labor union, and cannot be discharged if ever deciding to join a union.
Similarly, an employee also has the right to resign as a union member at any time. Regardless, union representation may still be required for employees subject to a grievance and/or labor contract negotiations.
In all, while these two concepts may sound very similar at face-value, “employment at-will” and “right-to-work” represent two very different applications and meanings in how it affects an individual’s employment status.
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MidwestHR supports growing companies by helping them simplify their business through HR Outsourcing. MidwestHR is a Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) headquartered in the Chicago land area. As a CPEO, we provide business owners, CEO and CFO leaders with relief from dozens of time-consuming HR & employment related functions, while helping protect the business from ever-increasing HR demands and liabilities. In addition, our clients have the ability to offer “Fortune 500 type” benefits, while being able to better control their premiums in the process.
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