It is standard practice in most industries for an employee who is quitting to give two weeks’ notice before they leave. As a business owner, this gives you time to find a replacement. You may also decide to simply shift your workforce around to absorb the loss of that employee. Either way, you expect to have advance notice.
But this can create some confusion. Are employees obligated to give you two weeks’ notice? Or could they simply quit on the spot?
It depends if they have an employment contract
The key is whether or not those employees are operating on a contract or if they are working under at-will employment laws. If they are at-will employees, as most people are, then there is no legal requirement for them to give you any notice at all. Technically speaking, the employee doesn’t even have to contact your company again. They could just stop coming to work.
Some company owners will make a business policy saying that two weeks’ notice is required. But remember that this is just a request, and the employee is not obligated to follow it if they don’t want to do so. Most will only do it in order to get a good reference in the future.
What actually changes this situation is giving those workers employment contracts. If an employee signs a contract stating that they will provide a certain amount of notice, then the at-will employment laws no longer apply and they do have to follow the regulations in that contract.
This issue can often lead to disputes between employers and employees, and it’s important for everyone involved to understand their legal options.