Employees are often asked to give a two-week notice if they’re going to leave a position. This is so that the company can find another worker to replace them before they go.
But should employers do the same thing when firing employees? If you want to let someone go, can you do it without notice?
The role of at-will employment
Generally speaking, the answer is yes, you can fire someone without any notice whatsoever. This is because Massachusettes is an at-will employment state. A reason for the firing is not required, nor is advance notice. The working relationship is legally viewed as something that only exists as long as both sides are willing to continue participating in it.
In fact, employees don’t need to give any notice, either. The standard of two weeks has been set to help businesses, but employees only really need to do that if they want to use a previous employer as a reference. They can quit whenever they want without legal repercussions.
There are exceptions to these rules, of course. A company that has set policies that employees and employers agree to has to follow those policies. Workers who sign contracts also may have extra rights in those contracts, such as the right to a warning before being fired. In general, though, at-will employment means no extra steps are needed.
Working through employment issues
For business owners, it’s very important to understand all employment laws and how they apply as the company grows and changes. When issues arise, employers also need to know what legal steps they can take to work through them.