Most modern employment agreements are called “at-will” agreements, meaning that both the employer and the employee have the right to terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason. Unlike clearly defined contracts which stipulate employment terms based on the calendar date or the nature of the work produced by the employee, at-will contracts allow you (the worker) to walk away from your job whenever you chose and for any reason or no reason. But as a professional courtesy, most employers ask that you provide them with two weeks’ notice before you move on.
This period gives your employers enough time to hire your replacement, and it keeps you from wasting time or spinning your wheels when you’re ready to move on. It’s not too much to ask in most situations, and providing notice can help you leave your company on good terms, which can boost your reputation and support your career. Here are a few things to consider as you get ready to say goodbye.
When should you provide two week’s notice?
Almost always. There are very few circumstances in which giving notice isn’t necessary. If your future employer demands your presence right away and can’t wait for two weeks, that may be a red flag; consider working for a company with a little more experience and business savvy. One exception to the two-week rule exists: If your workplace has become unsafe. Use your judgement.
How to give your notice
If you can, provide your notice in writing. If you relay your message verbally, gain clear acknowledgement, and then deliver your notice in writing using the day of your conversation as the first day of the two-week period.
What will happen if I don’t give notice?
Legally, nothing. If the terms of your contract or work agreement allow you to leave today, you can leave today. But if you walk out without notice, don’t expect your current employer to be happy about it. You may not be able to work here again in the future, and if you ask your boss for a recommendation, you may get a chilly response.
What to include in your written notice
As you type up your notice and provide it to your employer, you don’t have to include a reason for leaving, and you don’t have to offer any feedback or recommendations for the company if you don’t want to. But make an effort to stay polite, respectful and helpful as you walk out the door. Keep your relationships and your reputation strong and positive.