Is a Two Week Notice Required by an Employer?

Some people look forward to giving a resignation notice.
Some people look forward to giving a resignation notice. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Many people dread having to break the news to their current employers that they have found another job. Many people give two weeks' notice, which are typically formal resignation letters that inform the company that you are ending your employment and your last day will be in two weeks. Others do not give such notice either for personal reasons or because of extenuating circumstances. Whether or not these notifications are mandatory is a hotly debated subject.

Basic Answer

For the most part, two weeks' notice is not required or mandatory by federal employment law. It is simply a courtesy to the current company and manager. However, some companies have strict policies regarding the notification. In such companies, if you don’t give notice, you may forfeit your accrued benefits, such as paid but unused vacation time. If this is the case with your company, you probably signed an employee agreement at the beginning of your employment that stated you would give sufficient notice if you ever left the company. Review your company policy handbook or website to see what your specific employer’s policies are regarding the two-week notice.

Reasons to Give Notice

If two weeks' notice is not the policy at your current job, there are many reasons why you should still give it. Think about future implications and consequences if you end business relationships poorly at your current employer.

For example, if you’re staying in the same industry and need networking contacts, you should try to end things as harmoniously as possible with your current manager and colleagues. When you give sufficient notice, you can help the company with the transition by wrapping up projects, helping managers find your replacement and informing important clients about your impending exit. If the company has treated you well over the years, you can use the time to help train the replacement or create a notebook listing all your responsibilities and work processes.

Reasons to Skip It

In some cases, your new employer will want you to start immediately, so two weeks' notice may be impossible. If you didn’t sign a noncompete form and you’re going to work for a competitor, your current company may terminate your employment on the spot, and you could miss out on two weeks of pay before you start your new job. Consider what company policy is and what has occurred with other employees who turned in their notice before you make your decision on whether or not to do it.


If you are going to turn in your two-week notice, do it the right way. Wait until you have your official offer in writing for the new job. Never break the news to peers or subordinates before you tell your direct manager, if you respect him. That way, he can decide how and when to inform the department and your clients. Thank the company for the opportunity in your official letter even if you don’t feel the job was that great. Don’t ruin your manager’s weekend by dropping the bomb on a Friday afternoon. Wait until Monday to tell him if you receive your offer toward the end of the week.

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