“At-will” employment means that an employer can fire an employee at any moment, and an employee can leave a position for any reason with no legal ramifications. This arrangement can give both employer and employee flexibility but result in job or staffing shortages. After examining the advantages and downsides of the “at-will” nature of employment, this discussion post will argue that joining unions is one of the solutions for the disadvantages of at-will employment.
Some of the main advantages of at-will arrangements are the simplicity of the termination process and increased workers’ productivity. As employees do not explain the reason for firing, their process does not require excessive paperwork, thus becoming faster (Bodie, 2017). Also, it is not bound by contractual obligations; businesses quickly adapt to the changes in the environment and redirect their resources to increase productivity. Similarly, employees can choose an employer that corresponds to their expectations. Thus, the “at-will” nature of employment is advantageous because of its freedom for employers and employees.
However, freedom might be disadvantageous if it causes some labor shortages or abuse of labor rights. When an employee has an opportunity to leave the company at any time, this uncertainty can cause a shortage of competent replacements (Hijal-Moghrabi & Berman, 2017). Similarly, under the pressure or fear of suddenly losing their job, employees can be hesitant to express their concerns regarding the position. Furthermore, employees might be fired to be replaced by some corrupt networks of the employer. That is why at-will employment might be risky.
Employees can benefit from joining the unions with the risks under at-will employment. Union members are 28 percent more than their nonunion counterparts on average (Ahlquist, 2017). In the bigger picture, labor unions empower workers to take action towards better working conditions and other benefits such as insurance or healthcare.
Ahlquist, J. S. (2017). Labor unions, political representation, and economic inequality. Annual Review of Political Science, 20, 409-432.
Bodie, M. T. (2017). The best way out is always through: Changing the employment at-will default rule to protect personal autonomy. U. Ill. L. Rev., 223.
Hijal-Moghrabi, I., Sabharwal, M., & Berman, E. M. (2017). The importance of ethical environment to organizational performance in employment at will states. Administration & Society, 49(9), 1346-1374.