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Could an offer letter compromise at-will employment?

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in Human Resources

Q. Is it wrong to ask new hires to sign job-offer letters? We ask for a signed copy as part of documenting that they were informed that employment was “at will.” Is this inadvisable?

Whether the letters are advisable depends on how they are drafted and what else the letters say.

You do not want anything in the letter that could confuse the at-will status and possibly create a contract. Whether or not you get a signed offer letter, you should have a well-drafted at-will policy in your company handbook that states the employee is at-will and not employed for a specific duration. It should also make clear that the company may change its policies at any time.

You should have the employees sign an acknowledgment that they received the handbook, understand their obligation to read it, and that they will be bound by its provisions.

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