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Can an employee quit without notice?

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2023 | Business Law |

Employees sometimes want to leave their jobs immediately, perhaps feeling disgruntled or burned out. Employers, on the other hand, typically want employees to give them two weeks’ notice. The employer, after all, has to think about finding someone else to replace that employee, so they want time to do it.

But you do not have to give your employer two weeks’ notice. You don’t have to give any notice at all. You are not legally obligated in any way if you are an at-will employee. You can simply make the decision that you would like to quit the job whenever you want, and there won’t be legal ramifications. Your employer can’t sue you, even if they are frustrated and tell you that you’re financially harming the business. That’s simply how at-will employment laws work – applying to workers who do not have an employment contract – and employers need to be aware of this.

So, why do people give notice?

There is certainly a trend in the United States where most employees will give two weeks’ notice, even without a contract. This often leads employers to think that it’s mandated or that they can require it.

But the real reason that people give two weeks’ notice is just that they want to have a good reference. If you want to use that employer as a reference while you search for another job, it’s best to leave on good terms. Giving two weeks’ notice as a courtesy can accomplish this goal. But it isn’t necessary and you don’t have to worry about it if you’re not interested in a good reference.

That doesn’t mean a disagreement won’t happen between an employer and an employee. It certainly can, and all involved need to understand their legal options.