How and Why to Give Two Weeks' Notice

Here's what might happen when you leave your job

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When an employee resigns from a job, two weeks is the standard amount of lead time they agree to keep working for the current employer before departing. At the end of the period, the employee is no longer an employee of the old firm. But not all employers want a departing worker to stay.

When Two Weeks' Notice Is Not Wanted by an Employer

Two weeks’ notice is often not required nor appreciated by the employer. Human Resources may have standard practices to eliminate the possibility of charges of discrimination, no matter how liked or valued the resigning employee was to the organization.

HR may also be concerned with the effect of the resignation on the morale and positive outlook of the employees who remain. Two weeks is plenty of time to spread bad will. Resigning employees might bad-mouth the company on their way out the door, giving HR no good reason to risk allowing a disenfranchised employee to stay once they resign.

Possible Employer Standard Practices

An employer could handle a resigning employee in these ways:

  • The employee is not allowed to return to their work area or to say goodbye to co-workers.
  • The employer arranges a time for the employee to meet so they can remove personal items from the workplace.
  • The employer walks the employee out of the workplace immediately.

If your job is sensitive and gives access to company information, confidential information, and confidential computer systems data, you may be escorted out of the workplace when you resign. Some companies have adopted immediate termination as their standard practice upon employee resignation.

In these cases, most employers pay for the two weeks, even though they were not worked by the employee, because the employee offered to work and was turned down. Some standard HR practices don't allow the resigning employee to work even if they were available.

The Employee's Perspective on Giving Two Weeks' Notice

From the employee’s perspective, for companies that don't automatically pay for the two weeks, it may be better to work, earn the paycheck,  clean up loose ends, and say goodbye to co-workers; then submit the resignation letter.

Depending on your job, two weeks’ notice might not be in your best interests. Some career experts recommend you make your last day of work the day you resign.

For example, the longer you stay in the company following your resignation, the more possibilities exist for something to go wrong for which you would experience consequences. In your last two weeks, you may make a decision you think is perfectly innocent, but your employers may perceive as a mistake, and then later hold you responsible.

Managers' Notice of Resignation

It's recommended that managers give two to four weeks’ notice, but the amount of recommended notice time is also determined by the position. At the same time, if a new employer is waiting in the wings, the new employer may expect a new employee to start in two weeks, unless a different time frame is negotiated.

If your employee has an employment contract that states two weeks’ notice or another variation on notice time is required, the employee and employer must abide by the terms of the contract.