Two weeks’ notice – when not to give it

There are numerous reasons you might choose to quit your job. In a perfect world, the only reason people would leave their employment is for a better opportunity ahead. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case; and in some situations you could even face a challenging consideration about the standard two weeks’ notice – when not to give it.

In some instances, you might choose to quit your job because you’re extremely unhappy, the working circumstances make it too difficult or unsafe to remain, or some other highly unfortunate reason. In such cases, you have to do what is best for you. However, knowing your rights upfront allows for the smoothest possible transition.

Can you quit without giving notice?

In most cases, quitting a job without notice is possible without consequence. However, there are a few instances where it might be in your best interest to notify your employer. Regardless of the situation, you want to consider all aspects before moving forward.

What does the law say about your employment and termination?

For many U.S. employees, the law is on their side — you can quit without notice without risk, thanks to something referred to as “At-will employment.” However, if you have an employment contract, it might be difficult to quit without concern or consequence. Either way, you should give this big decision some thought before rushing out the door.

At-will employment

Employment in most U.S. states is at will, which means the employer and employee can sever employment at any time without cause. Therefore, even if the company policy requires two weeks’ notice, the organization cannot pursue you if you choose to exit without providing it.

Employment contracts

Depending on the terms, employment contracts can make it challenging to leave the position or company covered by the contract without dealing with the criteria set forth within the agreement.

For example, the contract might indicate you can only leave for a good cause, and it might also stipulate that you forfeit benefits, including unused leave and vacation, if you terminate your employment without sufficient notification.

Why should you give notice before quitting?

Even if you aren’t required to do so, giving notice can prove beneficial.

Consider the financial implications. Though employers owe you for any time worked, you can’t control when they might decide to withhold pay, including when you leave without notice. You can, however, pursue legal action if payment due to you is withheld, though it can take time and effort on your part to force that to happen.

Don’t burn bridges. When you give notice, you have the opportunity to leave with your professional contacts and reputation intact. It also provides you with the opportunity to return to the company if you might want to do so in the future.

When should you not give notice before quitting?

If you know you want to quit, without question, then it’s often best to stick it out for two weeks when possible. However, there are instances where remaining for two weeks, or even one week, might not be in your best interest and, in some instances, could cause more harm than good to your well-being. In these cases, it’s a good idea to cut your losses, quit, and move on quickly.

Reasons not to give two-weeks’ notice

Here are a few reasons you might choose not to give notice:

  • You have been sexually harassed.
  • You have been physically abused.
  • Your mental and emotional well-being are being negatively impacted.
  • You have been asked to do something unethical or illegal.
  • The work environment is unsafe for you to carry out your job duties and responsibilities.
  • You are dealing with a life crisis that prevents you from continuing your employment.
  • Family or personal circumstances require you to leave your position.
  • There is reasonable concern that you will be asked to leave once you give notice, which could put you in a financially challenging situation until your next employment opportunity takes effect.

Steps to take before quitting

Seek professional support and guidance. To clarify why you’re leaving your job and to feel comfortable with it, you might choose to seek guidance from a counselor, therapist, or even a career coach. A therapist or counselor can also support you through any emotional challenges that come with dealing with the issue at work and leaving your job.

Speak with human resources. Depending on your reason for leaving, it might make sense to speak with your HR department. It could be that they can help you resolve any challenges you’re having at work, as well as walk you through the best approach to exit.

Take steps to consider financial feasibility. If you know you’re going to leave your job, it’s good to develop a financial plan to ensure you don’t endure financial stress between jobs. If you choose to exit without meeting the “good cause” criteria required to receive unemployment benefits in most states, you will have to wait until you’re gainfully employed once again to earn a steady income.

Tips for quitting without notice

Remain professional. Whether you’re giving two-weeks’ notice or a day’s notice, remain professional through your exit, including being courteous to others and exiting with grace.

Speak with your supervisor. Give your supervisor the courtesy of communicating your plan to resign as soon as possible. If you cannot communicate in person, then at a minimum, call or send an email.

Put it in writing when possible. After communicating with your supervisor by phone or in-person, follow up with an email stating your intent to resign and your last day of employment.

Offer to assist the transition. Even when you’re leaving without giving a two-week notice, do what you can to offer assistance. That might mean offering to hand-off duties or making yourself available to provide a status update of where things stand for your position and projects.

Some circumstances might require you to leave without notice. When such an event occurs, do your best to remain professional and exit without feeling guilty. The above tips will help you take steps to cover the bases, leave without complications, and find fulfillment elsewhere.