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The Employee Handbook and Employment-At-Will In most work places one of the first issues on the employee orientation agenda is the employee handbook This handbook is a composite of rules and regulations that govern the workings of the facility as well as the facilities discipline policy The Human Resource person goes over this handbook and instructs all new employees to sign and date a paper verifying that they have the handbook There is usually so much emphasis placed on this handbook that you tend to believe that this handbook is the law that whatever is written in it is the gospel Well I can tell you that you have just made your first mistake The employee handbook is just a piece of paper unless you are a union or a contract employee Law does not bind the words written in the handbook The institution can choose to follow or not follow the handbook Most institutions abide by their handbook whether they are in an employee-at-will state or a just cause state but if they choose not to abide there is nothing to be done Throughout the United States there are states that are employee-at-will states and states that are just cause states In simplified terms this means if your state is an employee at will state the discipline policy in the employee handbook does not have to be followed and that you can be terminated for a good reason a bad reason or for no reason if you are not a union or a contract employee In a just cause state termination must be for a just cause The employment-at-will law was written back in the early 1900s Its purpose was to protect both the employee and the employer The employee could quit or leave his job for any reason and the employer could terminate the employee for any reason Back in those days the issues of retirement and health benefits were not
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