Skip to content
Home » Employment at Will Doctrine

Employment at Will Doctrine

  • by


Advantages and Disadvantages of the Employment-at-Will Doctrine

The employment-at-will doctrine is a complex issue with several advantages and disadvantages: the advantages include faster termination of labor contracts, efficient use of human resources, and emphasis on the performance and merit of an employee; and the disadvantages include the potential for discriminatory employment practices in the workplace, low employee morale arising from relying on misguided attitudes to employment contracts; and greater legal risk. The doctrine offers employers total contractual freedom in the absence of exceptions: a factor that reduces or eliminates negotiations with an employee when terminating an employment contract. Under the doctrine, employers can achieve efficient utilization of human resources by firing unproductive employees in a straightforward manner and avoid delays. The doctrine also helps employers to focus on merit as opposed to ranks.

The disadvantages have major implications for stakeholders in the labor force. The potential for discriminatory practices such as firing employees due to older age suggests the doctrine undermines inclusiveness in the workplace. Some attitudes associated with the doctrine might hamper employee morale and overall productivity (Coggburn et al., 2010). An example is the perception by employees that the employer is not considerate when the organization’s culture is dominated by the feared statement— “You are fired!” Some states have exceptions to the doctrine with significant implications for various employment scenarios (Gertz, 2017). An employer might face legal action for breaching the exceptions. Such exceptions underscore the limitations of the employment-at-will doctrine.


Coggburn, J. D., Battaglio Jr, R. P., Bowman, J. S., Condrey, S. E., Goodman, D., & West, J. P. (2010). State Government Human Resource Professionals’ Commitment to Employment at will. The American Review of Public Administration40(2), 189-208.

Gertz, S. C. (2017). At-Will Employment: Origins, Applications, Exceptions, and Expansions in Public Service. In American Public Service (pp. 47-74). Routledge.

error: Content is protected !!