It is certainly common practice for workers to give two weeks’ notice before they quit a job. Many employers expect this, and workers will do it without being asked. The general idea is that the worker maintains a good relationship with the employer – and would get a good recommendation in the future – because the advance notice gives the employer time to find a new employee to replace them.
But are workers obligated to do this? If they are at-will employees, they are certainly not. They don’t have to give two weeks’ notice – or even two hours of notice, for that matter. At-will employees can quit at any time, with or without notice and with or without a reason. Employers also have the right to fire them at any time, and they also don’t need to provide a reason or advance notice.
Can employers change that?
It is possible for employers to change this obligation if they would like. The key is to use employment contracts, rather than operating under at-will employment laws.
With an employment contract, it can be stipulated that the employer has to give advance notice if they’re going to leave the job. The contract may also say that they have to be fired for cause – for a specific reason. It may dictate how long they have to work at the company. There are many different options, but these have to be laid out in a contract and agreed to by both parties in advance. If this is not done, then employers cannot demand any more from their workers than at-will employment laws allow.
For employers who do want to use contracts, it’s important to know exactly what legal steps to take.