You decide that you want to quit your job. Maybe you’ve been unhappy there for a while. Perhaps there’s been a sudden change. Either way, you’ve decided that you simply want to leave.
But you look at your company handbook, and it says that you’re required to give two weeks’ notice before you quit. You weren’t planning on giving any notice prior to leaving; after all, the company was unlikely to give you any advance notice if they were going to fire you. But are you obligated to do so?
At-will employment laws
If you have an employment contract, then you do have to follow that employment contract. A CEO or another executive may have a contract stating that they can’t leave the company for a certain number of years, for instance, or that a certain amount of notice is required.
However, the vast majority of workers in the United States do not have contracts. They operate under at-will employment laws. This means that the employment can last for exactly as long as the employee – or the employer – wants it to last. No advance notice is required when firing an employee or quitting a job.
But what about the company handbook? That does not count as an employment contract. The employer can certainly request that you provide advance notice, but a company policy is not a law and you are not obligated to follow it. You just have to decide if you want to keep up a good relationship, perhaps for the sake of a reference.
In some cases, issues like this can lead to employment disputes. Those involved certainly need to understand their rights and all of their legal options.