The Meaning of At-Will, Probationary, Seasonal, Part-Time and Contract Employment

CATEGORY: Employment Law, Public Agency

Most California public employees have what is known as a constitutionally protected “property” interest in continued employment giving rise to their rights to pre-discipline and post-discipline “due process.” At-will employees, however, are not vested by their public employer with a property interest in continued employment and serve at the “will” or “pleasure” of their employer. At-will employees tend to be high-level managers, department heads, executives, probationary employees, seasonal employees, and part-time/temporary employees.

This workbook explores issues related to at-will employees and serves as a helpful desktop reference for understanding the unique rights and benefits afforded to these employees. Specifically, this workbook discusses designation of at-will status, the rights of at-will employees, management’s authority in dealing with at-will employees, and how to avoid litigation relating to the discipline and termination of at-will employees.

This workbook also discusses issues regarding independent contractors or contract workers. Typically, these workers provide skilled services to a public agency pursuant to a contract either between the agency and the worker or between the agency and an outside employment firm. Specifically, this workbook addresses what types of benefits and rights, if any, independent contractors or contract workers are entitled to.

Topics Include:

  • At-Will Employment
    • Definition of At-Will Employment
    • Determining Which Employees are At-Will
    • Removal of Classified Employees
    • Probationary Employees
    • Rights of At-Will Employees
    • Evaluating and Disciplining At-Will Employees
    • Liberty Interest Hearing/Lubey Conference/“Name Clearing” Hearing
  • Independent Contractors/Contract Workers
    • The Impact of the Cargill Decision on Public Agency Employers
    • Are Contract Workers Who Qualify for CalPERS Also Entitled to the Same Benefits and Rights as Regular Employees?
    • Do Contract Workers Have Skelly Due Process Rights?
    • Tax Implications
  • Part-Time and Temporary Employees
    • Designating Part-Time and Temporary Employees as At-Will
    • Avoid Destroying the Designation
    • Part-Time and Temporary Employees and CalPERS
    • What Benefits Must an Agency Provide to Part-Time and Temporary Employees?
    • Temporary Employment of CalPERS’ Annuitants


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