Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two Weeks Notice - Is It Necessary?

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about a new hire he just recruited. The new hire was to start in two weeks because he had given his two weeks notice. My coworker than told a story about how, at his former job, they required him to work the full two weeks, even requiring him to work half a day since he had told his former employer in the middle of the day.

I couldn't believe this story because giving two weeks notice is a courtesy. It is absolutely not required, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just wrong.  Now to be fair, if you will use this employer in the future as a reference, you probably want to leave on good terms.  In addition, I am a strong believer that you never burn your bridges, you never know if you will come back or where your paths may cross again.

Now, I've always given the courtesy of two weeks notice.  On a interesting side note, I once went to talk to my boss to tell him I was quitting.  He actually told me I didn't need to give him the notice because he knew that his boss was coming in to town to fire him.  If I wanted to leave the next day, I was free to do so.  Sure enough, the next day his boss came to fire him.

I've been on the other side of the table too.  I've had an employee come to give his resignation and not give me two weeks notice.  He did give me one, but even if he hadn't I wouldn't have blamed him.  I am a strong believer that people need to do what's best for them.  If it was necessary for my employee to leave sooner for a good reason, I support that 100%.  It hurt a little bit, but the truth of the matter is is that there was probably not even two weeks of work for him to do.  As soon as he gave notice, I couldn't have him work on any new projects, I just needed him to document the current stuff he was working on.  After he did that, there really wasn't much left for him to do.

Now here is the thing.  Most employees are at-will employees.  That means your employer can fire you at anytime and for any reason without giving you any notice.  It is the norm for an employer to fire an employee without any notice.  Employment is a two way street.  So if your employer isn't going to have any remorse seeing you leave without notice, why should you feel bad when the tables are turned?

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you think an employee should always give two weeks notice?


  1. Yes, employment is a two way street and more importantly all employees are at will. Don't forget that. Give the two weeks notice if it's in your benefit, not the employer's... because the employer could ask you to leave at any time, without cause.

  2. and they normally will. Loyalty is great, but it should work as a two way street.

  3. and they normally will. Loyalty is great, but it should work as a two way street.

  4. I left on good terms and gave 30 days notice at a large chemical company in Delaware. They walked me out and didn't pay me in lieu of notice. I consider that "burning a bridge" from the other side as I will never consider working for them in the future. Thus, I strongly agree that if your employer doesn't have decency to play by theses rules why should we?

  5. Today I gave my university dean a notice that I am leaving in two days. She said it is common courtesy for two weeks and that it would look bad in the future if I didn’t give my job two more weeks.

    When five people including the boss I respected very much were laid off she was laughing with new academics director moments after she lay off the employees. Apparently the dean new it would happen 2 weeks before.

    Did she have the courtesy to give the women (yes all woman) a heads up to find another job especially since 2 are single mothers? No. it should be a two way street, but isn’t. Do I feel bad? No. I could use the reference, but then again have a reference in the great boss that got laid off (she was asked to stay through the transition), but had to leave soon after.