Traditionally, when people decide to quit a job, they will provide two weeks’ notice to their employer. They’re essentially telling their boss that they want to leave the position, but they will wait two weeks to do so, giving their boss time to find a replacement.
This has become so common that some companies expect it and will even tell employees that it is required. But does your boss actually have this much control over your life? Can they tell you that you’re not allowed to quit your job when you want to?
At-will employment laws
Are you an at-will employee? If you’re not sure, then you probably are. Most employees already work under at-will employment laws, whether they realize it or not. The exception to this is when employees have contracts, which means that you would have to follow any of the stipulations laid out in the contract – including giving a two weeks notice (or longer, if that’s what the contract says).
If you’re an at-will employee, then the law says that you’re allowed to quit whenever you want and you don’t have to provide any notice. As a trade-off, your employer is also allowed to fire you whenever they want, and they generally don’t have to give you any notice – with a few exceptions.
So, if you’re an at-will employee, it doesn’t matter that your boss tells you that a two weeks notice is required. They may not give you a good recommendation if you leave without offering notice, but there is absolutely no legal obligation to do so. You’re completely free to simply never go back to work again if that’s what you’d like to do.
If you do find yourself in a complicated legal situation surrounding your employment, be sure you know what options you have.