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Do you actually have to give notice before quitting?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2023 | Employment Law

Most workers will give two weeks’ notice before they quit. Many employers will even “require” it. They may put it in the company handbook saying that no one can quit unless they give two weeks’ notice – or even more. 

Many employees will follow these rules, assuming that they have no choice. But are they actually obligated to follow that company handbook? If you want to quit your job, do you have to give two weeks’ notice, or can you just walk away?

Employment contracts and at-will laws

It all depends on the terms of your employment. Most workers are at-will employees, which means that they don’t need to give notice. They only have to stay employed at that business for as long as they want to, and they’re free to quit at any time. They don’t even need to give a reason. So, if you are an at-will employee, regardless of what your employer would like you to do, you always do have the option to quit without notice.

On the other hand, if you have an employment contract, then it may have included terms that go beyond the law itself. If you signed a contract saying that you can only quit for specific reasons, or that you have to give a month of notice, for example, then you do have to follow those terms.

In some cases, employers and employees will find themselves engaged in disputes over what is required and what is not. These can be complex, and those involved need to take the time to look into all of their legal rights and the options at their disposal.