What is Two Weeks' Notice?

Definition & Examples of Two Weeks' Notice

Giving two weeks notice

The Balance / Bailey Mariner

Two weeks' notice is a courtesy you give to your employer by notifying them two weeks ahead of time that you plan to leave your job. Giving your employer two weeks' notice is standard practice when resigning.

Learn more about how and why to give notice to your boss and what happens afterward.

What Is Two Weeks' Notice?

Two weeks' notice is a courtesy that gives your employer time to prepare for your resignation and get a head start on hiring someone else.

If you have an employment contract or union agreement that states how much notice you should give, abide by it. If not, two weeks' notice is appropriate, but not required.

If your employer asks you to stay longer than two weeks (or the time period in your contract) you can choose to do so, but you have no obligation to stay unless you have an employment contract that stipulates otherwise.

Your employer does not have to accept your two weeks' notice (unless it's in your contract) and can end your employment immediately. Therefore, be prepared to leave your job as soon as you give notice. Make sure that you have all the information you need from your work computer, and any other information you want to take with you, ready to go.

How Does Two Weeks' Notice Work?

Leaving a position can feel uncomfortable, but if you follow a few simple rules, the process should go smoothly.

  • Tell your boss first: Start by providing your notice to your boss. It may be tempting to avoid a face-to-face conversation, but whenever possible, it's best to give notice in person. It's up to you how many details you want to share about why you're leaving. At the end of the conversation, it's appropriate to shake hands. Next, you will likely want to tell mentors, people you work with closely, and co-worker friends. At a certain point, your manager will tell your whole team.
  • Prepare a transition plan: While it is possible that when you give your notice, the company will immediately terminate your employment, it's also quite likely you'll wind up working for two more weeks. Managers and co-workers will likely be eager to get caught up on your various projects. Have a transition plan prepared to make your departure seamless.
  • Be respectful: Even if you despised your job or co-workers or didn't believe in the company's mission, now is not the time to share negative opinions. When you're giving notice, try to focus on the positive things about your time working together, or how much you've learned from being at the company. If you cannot sincerely say anything nice, follow the old adage and don't say anything at all.
  • Make plans to keep in touch: Use your two weeks' notice to add people on LinkedIn and other social media accounts, and make certain that co-workers have your personal email. Make future communications easy—that way, if you ever need a recommendation or referral, you can easily get in touch.

In many cases, employees will want to document or formalize their resignation in a letter. Or, you may prefer to write your resignation in an email.

What Happens After You Give Your Notice?

Generally, the two-week period is one of transition. You may have lots of meetings with co-workers to review the status of projects and walk through your day-to-day routine and tasks.

You may be asked to prepare documents, email clients to introduce a new contact at the company, or share where you keep important files.

Do your part to ensure that everyone who should know that you're departing the company is properly informed.

It can be tempting to slack off during this period but resist the urge. Just as you worked hard to make a good first impression during interviews, it's also important to make a strong last impression on your way out of the job. This will help ensure that colleagues and managers think of you positively, which will come in handy if you ever need a recommendation or if you work together in the future.

When You Need to Resign Right Away

Under normal circumstances, providing two weeks' notice is standard practice. However, there may be times when you just can't stay that long.

Whether it's because of issues at work or personal circumstances, you may need to move on immediately. Resigning without a two-week notice might be necessary for a number of reasons, such as:

  • You've been asked to do something illegal.
  • Your employer is withholding wages.
  • You've been the victim of harassment or abuse.

If that's the case, it's still a good idea to stay professional in your dealings with the company. Talk to your human resources department, and have a support system in place as you leave your job.

Key Takeaways

  • Two weeks' notice is the advance warning you give your employer that you will be resigning from your job.
  • It is not required, but it is customary to give your employer this courtesy.
  • Your employer may permit you to work the full two weeks, or they may ask you to stay longer (which you can decline to do). On the other hand, they may ask you to leave immediately, so be prepared.
  • Two weeks' notice does not apply if you have an employment agreement that specifies a different amount of notice before resigning.

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