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Can an employer require two weeks’ notice?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | BUSINESS & COMMERCIAL LAW - Business & Commercial Law

An unwritten rule in the workplace is that employees will give advance notice when they decide to quit. The standard amount of notice given is two weeks. During this time, the business will generally replace that employee and work the transition, which is why having some advance notice is convenient.

But can an employer require that notice? They cannot. If the worker is an at-will employee, they do not have to give any notice at all. They can simply quit the job whenever they want. They never have to return to the workplace, and they may not even have to communicate with the company, short of getting their final paycheck and returning any company property that they have. But advance notice is not required, and there is no legal recourse that a company can take because at-will employment laws simply have no provision for a two weeks’ notice.

What if there’s a company policy?

To get around this, many employers will have a company policy saying that they “require” a two weeks’ notice. They are free to set up this policy and ask employees to provide notice if they want. But it is in no way legally binding, and they can’t take action against employees who just decide to ignore the policy.

The only exception is if there is an employment contract. If the worker signed a contract stating that they would provide a certain amount of notice, then they do have to adhere to those provisions. They are no longer an at-will worker.

As can be seen, it’s very important for employers to understand precisely what the law states and what options they have.