How Much Notice Do I Have to Give?

Question:

I received an offer for a new job. I can’t wait to leave my toxic workplace. I told my prospective employer that I would need to give two weeks, and I only planned to give two weeks. On my company’s website, it says “it’s requested that the employee gives four weeks notice.” I am an exempt employee, so I know this could be because of vacation time/pay but it looks as though I might leave before the first of November. I am really looking forward to leaving because of the negative culture and inconsistent policies. This has been a long time coming. Am I required to give the full four weeks?

Advice:

Unless you are working under a contract, all 50 states and Washington D.C. are considered to have “at-will” employment agreements by law. This means that either the employer or employee can end employment at any time, for any reason or lack thereof (this excludes terminations for any reason that could be considered discriminatory).

Under these circumstances, you are not required to give your employer the amount of notice that they are requesting if you have other obligations to fulfill. The best option would be to consult with either the employee handbook or an HR representative about the necessity for the lengthy notice period.

Generally, employers ask for a certain notice period so that they have time to replace the exiting employee and experience limited interruptions to their operations.  Lengthier notice periods are usually requested for exempt employees since their skills may be harder to replace.

In addition, employers that pay out vacation time to employees who resign tend to also have policies that dictate how long a notice period has to be for employees to be eligible for that type of payout. So as long as you are not under contract and don’t have to worry,  or choose not to worry, about getting paid out your vacation time, you can leave your job at any time.

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