Two Weeks’ Notice: How to Give It

It is not uncommon for employees to change jobs. When this happens, the question frequently arises regarding whether employees are legally obligated to provide two weeks’ notice before quitting their current job. The short answer is, “No.”

Is it illegal to quit a job without notice? Is there a give two weeks notice law in my state?

There are no federal or state two week notice laws that require an employee to provide two weeks’ notice to his or her employer before quitting. As we discussed in our previous blog, “The Difference Between the Terms ‘At-Will’ and ‘Right-to-Work,’” most states have adopted the at-will doctrine which is a common-law doctrine that defines most employment relationships. Excluding exceptions, the at-will doctrine gives an employer the right to terminate an employee at any time, without cause or any reason. Likewise, employees are also allowed to leave their employment at any time and without a reason.

In other words, there is no two week notice law and no mandatory notice period in the US. The employees notice period is not set by any law and you are free to quit at any time. Since there is no 2 week notice law, you may leave your place of employment without any job notice. However, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

Despite not being a legal requirement, some employers may have company policies requiring their employees to give two weeks’ notice. Although an employee is generally not required to comply with the policy, many employers penalize employees who do not, where permissible under state law. Such penalties may include forfeiting accrued vacation leave or other benefits. Employers may also encourage employees to give a two weeks’ notice by offering severance pay.

What if you give two weeks’ notice and they ask you to leave?

Since there are no two weeks notice laws, employees are not required to give employers any notice prior to leaving their job. Likewise, employers are not required to accept a two weeks’ notice and may release employees from their position immediately, although this may make the employees eligible for unemployment when they would not have been otherwise.

What about employment contracts?

Employment contracts fall under the at-will exception. Generally speaking, employment contracts do not secure indefinite employment. However, an employment contract typically includes procedures for terminating the employment contract. This means, if the terms within the contract require two weeks’ notice, the employee has a binding legal obligation to give the notice. There may be circumstances however, when the employer and employee may mutually agree to modify or disregard any notice requirements. Each state may have specific laws related to employment contracts; therefore, to address the legalities of employment separation, it may be necessary to consult an attorney who specializes in employment law.

Reason to give two weeks’ notice?

How much notice to give when leaving job? From an employee’s perspective, giving 2 weeks’ notice is an act of courtesy. It allows the employer to find a replacement and to make a smoother transition to the new employee. It is a myth that employees are required to give their employers two weeks’ notice before quitting. It is simply a matter of choice in most instances.

Giving notice may also help preserve a professional relationship between the employer and the former employee. Sometimes, although not required, the act of courtesy is rewarded with a positive employer recommendation in the future. In addition, it encourages a positive professional relationship, which may leave the door open for future employment if the employer chooses. Although there are no labor laws two week notice, it’s always wise to give proper notice to your employer. Don’t burn your bridges, as the saying goes.

Two weeks’ notice is a courtesy you give to your employer by notifying them two weeks ahead of time that you plan to leave your job. Giving two weeks’ notice is standard practice when resigning. If there is some emergency and you are not able to give your employer proper notice, just try to give them as much time as you can. Giving one week notice instead of two is certainly better than nothing. Remember, your employer might be dealing with their own emergency once they find out they are short on staff.

What Is Two Weeks’ Notice?

Two weeks’ notice is a courtesy that gives your employer time to prepare for your resignation and get a head start on hiring someone else. Read on to learn more about how to give two weeks notice to your boss and what happens afterward.

If you have an employment contract or union agreement that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. If not, two weeks’ notice is appropriate, but not required.

If your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks (or the time period in your contract) you can choose to do so, but you have no obligation to stay unless you have an employment contract that stipulates otherwise.

Your employer does not have to accept your two weeks’ notice (unless it’s in your contract) and can end your employment immediately. Therefore, be prepared to leave your job as soon as you give notice. Make sure that you have all the information you need from your work computer, and any other information you want to take with you, ready to go.

How Does Two Weeks’ Notice Work?

Leaving a position can feel uncomfortable, but if you follow a few simple rules, the process should go smoothly. Quitting without notice is almost always a bad idea for several reasons, so be sure to plan this properly. Learn how to give a two weeks notice by reading some of the resignation letters at the end of this article.

Tell your boss first: Start by providing your notice to your boss. It may be tempting to avoid a face-to-face conversation, but whenever possible, it’s best to give notice in person. It’s up to you how many details you want to share about why you’re leaving. At the end of the conversation, it’s appropriate to shake hands. Next, you will likely want to tell mentors, people you work with closely, and co-worker friends. At a certain point, your manager will tell your whole team.

Prepare a transition plan: While it is possible that when you give your notice, the company will immediately terminate your employment, it’s also quite likely you’ll wind up working for two more weeks. Managers and co-workers will likely be eager to get caught up on your various projects. Have a transition plan prepared to make your departure seamless.

Be respectful: Even if you despise your job or co-workers or didn’t believe in the company’s mission, now is not the time to share negative opinions. When you’re giving notice, try to focus on the positive things about your time working together, or how much you’ve learned from being at the company. If you cannot sincerely say anything nice, follow the old adage and don’t say anything at all.

Make plans to keep in touch: Use your two weeks’ notice to add people on LinkedIn and other social media accounts, and make certain that co-workers have your personal email. Make future communications easy—that way, if you ever need a recommendation or referral, you can easily get in touch.

In many cases, employees will want to document or formalize their resignation in a letter. Or, you may prefer to write your resignation in an email.

What Happens After You Give Your Notice?

Generally, the two-week period is one of transition. You may have lots of meetings with co-workers to review the status of projects and walk through your day-to-day routine and tasks.

You may be asked to prepare documents, email clients to introduce a new contact at the company, or share where you keep important files.

Do your part to ensure that everyone who should know that you’re departing the company is properly informed.

It can be tempting to slack off during this period but resist the urge. Just as you worked hard to make a good first impression during interviews, it’s also important to make a strong last impression on your way out of the job. This will help ensure that colleagues and managers think of you positively, which will come in handy if you ever need a recommendation or if you work together in the future.

When You Need to Resign Right Away

Under normal circumstances, providing two weeks’ notice is standard practice. However, there may be times when you just can’t stay that long.

Whether it’s because of issues at work or personal circumstances, you may need to move on immediately. Resigning without a two-week notice might be necessary for a number of reasons, such as:

  • You’ve been asked to do something illegal.
  • Your employer is withholding wages.
  • You’ve been the victim of harassment or abuse.

If that’s the case, it’s still a good idea to stay professional in your dealings with the company. Talk to your human resources department, and have a support system in place as you leave your job.

Tips for Writing a Resignation Letter With Two Weeks’ Notice

Use Business Letter Format: Use a business letter format so that your letter looks professional. At the top of your letter, include your contact information, the date, and your employer’s contact information.

State the Date: The most important thing you need to say in your letter is when you will be leaving the company. You can either state the specific date you will leave, or say that you are leaving two weeks from the current date.

Keep It Short: You don’t need to include any more information than the fact you are leaving and when your last day of work will be.

Consider Saying Thank You: If you wish, you can also include a thank you for the opportunity provided and the experience you gained while working with the company.

Be Positive: As with all resignation letters, brevity is advantageous and it’s best to avoid mentioning anything negative about your employer or co-workers. Maintain professionalism with everyone, always. You never know whose path may cross yours in the future.

Offer to Help: Consider offering to help with the transition process. You might offer something specific—such as helping to train a new employee—or you can just offer your general help.

Send the Letter to the Right People: Send this letter to both your employer and to your human resources (HR) office, so that HR has a copy on file.

Consider a Resignation Email: You can also send a resignation email message rather than a formal letter. The content of the email will be similar to a letter. In the subject line of the email, include your name and the word “resignation.”

Read Letter Samples: To help you write your own letter, check out a few resignation letter samples or resignation email samples, depending on how you plan to send your message. Edit the samples to fit your personal circumstances.

Two Weeks Notice Resignation Letter Sample #1

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

Name
Title
Organization
Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I am writing to announce my resignation from Company Name, effective two weeks from this date.

This was not an easy decision to make. The past ten years have been very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed working for you and managing a very successful team dedicated to a quality product delivered on time.

Thank you for the opportunities for growth that you have provided me. I wish you and the company all the best.

If I can be of any help during the transition, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Sincerely,

Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name

Two Weeks Notice Resignation Letter Sample #2

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

Name
Title
Company Name
Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

I am writing to notify you of my resignation from my position as analyst at ABC Company. My last day will be August 20, 20XX.

Please let me know how I can be of service during my final two weeks at the company. I am more than happy to train an incoming employee, or assist with the transition in any other way.

Thank you for all of the professional opportunities you have provided me over the past three years. I wish you and the company all the best.

Regards,

Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name

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