Employment at will refers to manpower regulations that give employers the right to terminate or retain employees at it sees fit.
This means that if an employer decides that a staff needs to leave the organization for any reason, it can do so without any need for legal justification.
So a person does not necessarily need to have displayed gross misconduct to be fired. The company can technically cancel the employment of a clerk if a manager don’t like how a report has been formatted.
However, this does not mean that an employment contract would be meaningless when employment “at will” is practiced.
The contract terms of termination still has to be honoured by employers. Just that they have the freedom to draft the terms of employment and termination as they please.
For example, even though a company might have the right to terminate a worker for under-performance, a 1 month notice period still applies if it is stated in the contract.
It must be mentioned that while employment at will is in practice in various places, companies seldom abuse the right to hire and fire as it can create bad publicity.
Moreover, who would want to work for an organization that is reputed to fire employees with no reasonable grounds?
It could make it difficult for companies to attract talent if it has such bad reputation in the industry.
At times, it might also invoke criticism from the authorities.
Companies would find such regulations advantageous while employees would find them disadvantageous.