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Understanding the scope of at-will employment

Business owners, executives, managers and human resources professionals in Florida have many laws to adhere to when it comes to managing human capital. Understanding what they can and cannot do if the need to fire an employee arises is very important. As explained by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Florida abides by the principle of at-will employment. But, what does this really mean? Can a business let an employee go for any reason?

Businesses can fire employees for any reason so long as the reason is legal. Firing a person for failure to properly perform job duties, for example, is legal. Firing a person because of the employee’s race, religion or sexual orientation is not. The Houston Chronicle reports that federal anti-discrimination rules outline what are legal or illegal reasons for terminating a person’s employment.

In Florida, employers are also bound by other guidelines when making the choice to fire or lay off employees. For example, employees must be given the ability to continue health insurance coverage through the company after leaving. Employers must also provide written notice when letting go of more than 33 percent of a full-time workforce or more than 50 people at one site. Final compensation must be provided to people on whatever would be their next normally scheduled pay date.

The laws of at-will employment govern more than just termination. Employers are also given the right to change how much employees are paid or what benefits are provided to employees at any time. An employment contract, however, does supercede at-will employment guidelines.

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