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Human Resources/Termination Notice in Contract


Hi Brian,

Can an employment contract contain a double standard with regard to termination notice? An agency sent me a contract for a job I'll be starting this week. The contract stipulates I'd have to give 2 weeks notice if I was going to leave, but they can terminate without any notice. Is this typical? If it were you, how would you handle this?

Thanks for any advice you can render,


Many employers across the United States use the "at will" employment approach.  This means either you or the employer may separate the employment relationship between both parties with or without at any time with or without notice or reason.    This works perfectly fine in many typical employment relationships and allows both the employee and employer a lot of freedom to find and keep employment and for employers to find and keep employees.   It also allows EITHER party to decide they no longer like the other for any reason and can leave for greener pastures....          In other words, you can also quit and will not be held liable for the multi-million dollar project you were in charge of.....

Enough said there...

To your question on employment contracts.   A contract throws out the whole idea of at-will since you allegedly "agree"  to change the terms of the at will employment scenario to favor one party of the other.   

Of course an employment agreement can be written in any manner that may or may not be "fair" to both parties as it may favor the employee or the employer more than the other.  Obviously,  if the employer writes it, it would tend to favor them... if you wrote it,  it may favor you, and also include language on when you will get raises, for example and how you are guaranteed a job for life if you want to stay-- and also a parachute "departure bonus" of $ 1,000,000 dollars when you do leave.     So, you see the reasoning....  agreements change the basic understanding that  no employment is guaranteed and you have a job as long as you are not fired and you don't quit--- or the economy dumps and we lay off workers, etc., etc.

So, yes, the agreement favors the Employer, but depending on your situation, you may not be in a position to negotiate.   On the other hand,  you could explain that you would feel more comfortable if the agreement was more uniform for both sides.    Alternatively,  you may just sign it and get to work.

You will need to decide for yourself whether to sign it   "as is",  or push hard and be willing to walk away from the deal if the agreement is not updated to favor both parties equally in a way that makes you feel warm and fuzzy;  or somewhere in between.       You can also ask about adding other terms in there that would favor you IF you were let go, but again what those terms are is up to you.    And negotiating is a topic we will not get into here.......

I hope this helps.


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Brian Phillips


Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA".


At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

Awards and Honors
* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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