I want to leave without notice but feel guilty about my coworkers

A reader writes:

I work in an industry normally noted for its stability, although our location has seen 10 people in my position leave in less than two years since current management took over. (For reference, full staff for us is 10). I am scheduled for an interview with another firm later this week and am confident it will go well and I can become number 11. We have never been at full staff as long as I’ve been here; management is unhelpful and just bad in general. We currently have 6 people in my position, so if I depart it is down to 5, or 50% staffing. There have been no qualified applicants in months, so I am certain that I will not be replaced in that time frame if I gave a standard two-week notice.

My concern is not with “burning bridges” (I will never come back to this company), good will with management (they made this mess to start with), or even etiquette per se. My concern lies with my coworkers. I’ve become good friends with a few of them, as we’ve been through hell together here. If I leave, my workload will fall to them. I know they’re looking elsewhere too, and in fact we have a sort of “race to be number 11”, but I can’t help but feel a bit guilty to “win the race.” So my question is this: I don’t feel obligated to give any notice at all and would love to tell my *fingers-crossed* new employer that I can start next week. But my conscience tells me that the longer I stick around the easier the burden will be for my coworkers. But at the same time, is staying longer just delaying the inevitable? Basically, going into the interview this week, I hope to be able to have an answer if asked “when can you start?”

You should give two weeks notice at your current job because it’s the professional thing to do. Even if you don’t care about your company at all (and leaving your coworkers aside for the moment), you should care about your reputation.

You never know when someone from your company might pop up in the future (as the hiring manager for a job that you want in a couple of years, or as an informal reference that you never even know about), and hearing “oh yeah, she left with zero notice” is a really good way to kill your candidacy.

Plus, those coworkers who you feel guilty about leaving behind will definitely understand why you’re leaving — but they’ll make a note of it if you leave with no notice and it will probably affect how they see you. For example, it’s going to make the smart ones a lot less likely to refer you for jobs in the future.

And last, that new job — they’re going to wonder why someone currently employed is willing to walk with no notice to her current job.

Two weeks really isn’t very long in the larger scheme of things — certainly not enough that you should sacrifice your reputation just to avoid working it. And the last two weeks at a job you hate tend to be pretty satisfying; you’re leaving after all, and everyone knows it.

(Also, just a side note: Two weeks notice isn’t so that your employer can hire your replacement in that time; it would be rare for that to happen. It’s so that you can help with a smooth transition of your work.)

{ 276 comments… read them below }

  1. Sascha

    I understand where you’re coming from – I would LOVE to just quit on the spot at my job right now, but I think it would really hurt you in the long run to not give 2 weeks. As Alison pointed out about your new employer, it will probably make them wonder why you wouldn’t give the standard 2 weeks – wonder about your professionalism, wonder if you would do the same to them if they hired you, etc.

    1. Blue Dog

      You ALWAYS give two weeks notice. But remember, that doesn’t mean that you will necessarily stay there that long. Some employers will spend a couple days transferring your work and then go ahead and pay you for the two weeks. Some crappy ones will usher you out on the spot and stop paying you immediately (you should be prepared for that possibility). And some will treat you like a disloyal whipping boy for two weeks. You should look to what has happened in the past and let that be a guide.

      But remember: you are giving them two weeks notice for their benefit and you are not obligated to take their abuse during this period. If the employer gets abusive during this period, they waive their “right” to 2 weeks notice.

      1. NJ Anon

        Indeed! I gave notice at a company I was working for and they started treating me like dirt asap. I left after the first week, just left a letter in my bosses inbox with no real reason but when they asked my coworker, she told them why. Not sure what happened after that but I never heard from them again.

      2. Arbynka

        This. It can be hard to give two weeks notice if your workplace sucks. It feels like they are trearing me crappy so why should I do them a favor. But it reality, you are doing yourself a favor.

      3. Angora

        I had an extremely abusive boss at a temp job. She would scream, throw things. I gave my two week notice, worked a couple days, dealt with one her terrifying screaming fits, called the next day and told them I couldn’t return for medical reasons (lie .. but part truth). I had such a horrible migraine when I left my last day, that I got a medical excuse for the next 3 days.

        Working with her made me sick. I agree with Alison though, crappy employers are not a good reason to quit without notice. Unless you are dealing with abuse, illegal activities, work out your notice. Because it can come back and bite you. With all the various types of social media it’s easy for a prospective employer to track down a prior co-worker that they might have a mutual acquaintance.

        1. Ana

          Hello,

          I read your response and experiencing a similar situation. My current manager is violent, abusive and I dread going into work everyday. I’ve been applying for other jobs and I am physically getting sick by going into work.

          Did you leave for another job or left because of the hostile working environment?

      4. RO

        The day I gave my two weeks, I was asked to complete two new projects, prep for a huge meeting the next month that I was covering for, and to close out all my projects (3). I was also told to document anyone I met with for a last coffee or lunch (this I refused to do). I ended up working from home for 2 more weeks.

          1. Invasive, but not as weird as you'd think

            I’m guessing they were worried about RO taking someone along. When I worked at Delta a lot of our employees got scalped by former employees and went to work for Southwest… I’m guessing they wanted to check if any employees you met with privately were approached with an offer like that.

  2. LBK

    One thing I find a little weird about this – what’s the impulse to want to get to the new employer so quickly? It sounds like this is less about fleeing a terrible workplace ASAP and more about giving your new employer the gift of an immediate start. If they’re already offering you a job, the odds that they’re going to rescind it if you say you can’t start for 2 weeks are basically none. If they did, I’d say good riddance because that’s nuts and not in accordance with the universal standard for transition periods.

    1. LBK

      Oh – and they may not even be ready for you to start the next business day. Here the bureaucracy of the onboarding process means we need a minimum of a week to get your computer requisitioned and set up, get accounts established for you in all the relevant systems, etc.

    2. tesyaa

      To me it sounds like the impulse is the race to be #11. Years ago I left an awful job, and the 2-week notice period, while frustrating, was also one of the best periods I spent in that job because I knew there was nothing they could do to me. I walked around smiling like a lunatic for 2 weeks.

      1. LBK

        Maybe I’m over-parsing the way the letter is written, but the workplace sounds crappy, not abusive. I can’t see the justification for not sticking it out two weeks, during which a) you get the satisfaction of counting down the seconds until you know you’ll never have to be there again, and b) you can do your coworkers the courtesy of trying to ease the transition as much as possible.

        1. maggie

          Yes, but the sentiment is still the same: the last two weeks of a job are *usually* amazing and carefree because, simply, you no longer care about the employer and as such aren’t feeling tied down to their mind games and constant stress levels. It sounds like Tesyya is saying, like you, to stick it out the two weeks because it’s not going to feel like it normally does. (unless I am totally misunderstanding both of you — I haven’t had coffee yet.)

          1. LBK

            Whoops – clearly I also need to re-read things. I was just replying to her comment that the impulse is the race to be #11 and I didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the comment!

      2. M-C

        Still feeling grateful to the guy who walked around the company with a huge smile on his face, talking about how he hadn’t had One Single Headache since he gave his notice. So inspiring for the rest of us :-).

        And OP, you know, if y’all are already maxxed out, it’s not like your coworkers are going to be able to do your work as well. The company will suffer, but that’s what happens to companies who think bad management doesn’t matter.

        AAM is right, do the professional thing, I promise it’ll feel quite different to see the light at the end of tunnel so closely. And I second the suggestion to walk out if it tilts into abuse.

      3. Worker Bee (Germany)

        Dito on “smiling like a lunatic” tho my notice period (by contract/law) was 3 months. Best three months of the 2 years at old job.

      1. LBK

        Hm? I’m not sure I understand what you mean. The OP sounds like she really wants to be able to start the next business day after she gets the office – I don’t get the impression that she wants a break.

        1. Mike C.

          I’ve just mentioning it as a possible reason to quit now that doesn’t involve starting at the new job the very next day.

          1. LBK

            Basically, going into the interview this week, I hope to be able to have an answer if asked “when can you start?”

            That’s what I’m responding to – there’s emphasis multiple times in the letter on being able to tell the employer that she can start the next day. I don’t get the impression that she wants a break.

            1. Annie

              That was my take, too. I don’t think that the new employer is likely to be impressed by a candidate who’s willing to burn bridges so readily, even if it’s for good reason.

      2. tesyaa

        As long as you have no issues with insurance coverage (i.e. if your old coverage continues to the end of the month, you don’t want to leave without notice on January 31). And if you can afford 2 weeks without pay, sure.

        1. Mike C.

          Sure, this is certainly a factor. On the other hand, many are able to cash out accumulated vacation time to help with the lack of paycheck.

  3. Mike C.

    So a potential employer never ever says, “Wow they left with no notice, they must have had a good reason for it” or “Yeah, people were leaving that place like crazy, no wonder this candidate left in a hurry” or “Well if you treat your employees like crap that’s what happens I guess” or “Those managers regularly fired people with no notice either, why is this surprising?” or even “It’s their legal right to under our state’s at will employment laws”?

    Leaving without notice is not some intrinsic characteristic of an employee like eye color – that decision is made based on numerous factors. Given that employers can drop you at a moments notice, why is leaving stuff treated as some black mark or sign of weakness of character? At will employment laws entitle both the employer and the employee the right to terminate employment at any time and for no reason. Why is the employee always considered “unprofessional” and worthy of suspicion when an employer who does this is not?

    This feels like the same sort of reasoning others use when they cast suspicion on a defendant for immediately using their 5th amendment rights and calling for a lawyer. The more powerful side is using their legal rights, why shouldn’t you?

    1. Cat

      I do think it does work both ways, though. If I find out an employer is laying people off with no notice whatsoever except in circumstances where it’s justified for extraordinary reasons, I am not going to think well of them either.

    2. kozinskey

      I think single instances of unprofessional conduct can have a lot of weight, even if they were one-time decisions. Also, sorry to be That Guy, but it’s the 6th Amendment that provides your right to counsel.

      1. LBK

        I’m assuming he was referring to the right to not incriminate yourself (“plead the 5th”) and that calling for a lawyer was meant as a separate action.

        At any rate, I think the risk/reward here favors staying for 2 weeks. As Alison says, you never know when someone at that company will have influence on your life again – and particularly in the case of crappy managers, I’d be wary of perceived slights that they may be vindictive about in the future if given the opportunity.

        1. Mike C.

          The risk/reward isn’t the point of my post though. The point is that using your legal rights, rights that your employer has as well, should not unequivocally be considered “unprofessional”, “rude” and so on.

          And yes, I was talking about keeping your mouth shut. I could have also added your 4th amendment right to not consent to a search also as something many believe the use of indicates guilt. “If you’re not guilty, you have nothing to hide” and so forth.

          1. Observer

            What does the legality of the issue have to do with anything. There are a lot of things that are unquestionably legal, but are still clearly unprofessional. Heavily using foul language is unquestionably legal in most circumstances, but I’d venture to say that in most work environments that’s considered rude and unprofessional. You have a legal right to not help your co-worker out in most cases, but it still can be a firing offense.

            1. Mike C.

              The legality is only to point out that the employer and the employee have the same right to end employment. Despite this similarity, only when an employee takes the action does it become unequivocally “unprofessional”. Sometimes employers are criticized (with little to no actual harm), but many times it’s tossed aside as “a cost of doing business” or even defended as “an employer has the right to do their business as they see fit”.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Many, many (though not all) employers give severance in that case, so it’s not really “gone with no notice and we’re cutting off your pay.”

                Regardless, though, I think you’re right that it should work the same on both sides. In reality, it doesn’t, and it can come back to hurt the OP. You can argue that it shouldn’t, but I’m not going to advise someone to do something on principle that is more likely to hurt than help them.

                1. Mike C.

                  I’m not arguing against your advice, I’m simply arguing that the cultural norms which led to it should be changed.

                2. sstabeler

                  It depends on what you consider beign equivalent. int he case of beign fired without ntoice, I consider it equivakent of you not getting severance either- basically, if the employer gies you the salary in leiu of the notice period, it’s much the same thing.Not doing that IS unprofessional on the part of an employer, unless gross misconduct on the part of the employee si involved.

      2. A Reader

        I believe he meant that the person didn’t want to talk for fear of incriminating themselves as well as calling a lawyer. Combo of 5th and 6th in one sentence.

      3. jag

        My wife quit on the spot at one job. She had another lined up already, and HR was berating her about something stupid.

        Her ex-coworkers (at least the ones she was on good terms with) almost cheered about it – the place was abusive in general.

        Her next job was a massive step up. And she got a better job at another place a year after that. What she did at the first place never hurt her except for some former co-workers admiring her gumption.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          It’s not that it never works out okay. Of course sometimes it’s fine. But the risk isn’t worth taking, because it can really screw you over in the future, and it’s rare that two weeks of your time is worth that.

          1. PEBCAK

            Yup…you can get the dreaded “not eligible for rehire” reference, and a new hiring manager doesn’t know it was for leaving without two weeks notice. It could just as easily be for embezzlement.

        2. Colette

          On the other hand, one of my former coworkers quit without notice, and it severely impacted (and impacts to this day) how far I’d go to help him network or what I’d say if someone at my company asked me about him.

          It’s not necessarily about whether you’ll get the next job, it’s about what happens after that.

          1. Phyllis

            Colette, do you know for sure your co-worker quit without notice? I ask this because in my career I have given notice at several jobs, and each time was told to leave immediately (and got no severance.) It’s discouraging when you try to do the right thing and you get treated like that.

            1. hayling

              This happened at my company. I thought one of our salespeople quit without notice. Turns out his jerk boss just told him to leave immediately.

              1. Aunt Vixen

                At my last job we had a guy who gave fifteen minutes’ notice. Literally told his boss at 4:45 on a Friday that he wasn’t coming back on Monday and then went up to talk to HR. He’d already got something lined up before he split, but we all assumed that he was resetting his professional life from that point, because he’s never going to get a positive reference from LastJob ever again; he’s unemployable in that company and probably in that field (and may be unclearable from this point out, which is also not nothing).

        3. MK

          It hasn’t hurt her yet; things like that can come back to haunt you five job changes later, when the boss you left without transition information or the coworker who was stuck with your workload at a minute’s notice shows up as the hiring manager for your dream job. This is about reputation, which follows you till retirement.

          1. Anna

            I’m not sure I believe that would happen unless you’re in a small industry in a small city. If I had quit without notice at my last job, I can guarantee I would never come across any of the people I had worked with in my current field. Reputation is something that shows a pattern of behavior, so if your entire reputation can be hurt by one instance, then it’s possible you didn’t have much of one to start with. Or maybe your reputation was that you quit without notice often. Once is an anomaly, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. Except maybe with quitting without notice. Then maybe twice is indicative of a pattern. But I don’t know if I’d worry too much if it had happened only once in someone’s past, and especially if it had happened a few career changes ago.

          2. Nobody

            And if it does come back to haunt you five jobs later, you might not even realize it. When you apply to your dream job and don’t even get an interview, you might never find out that the reason you were crossed off the list is that the hiring manager is your ex-coworker whom you left in the lurch when you quit without notice. Also, if you quit without notice, your employer could be angry enough to note in your file that you’re ineligible for rehire, which would be a huge red flag for a future employer checking your references or work history. They might not tell you this was a factor in a decision not to hire you.

            That said, I agree with the point Mike C made, and I was thinking about that as I read the “best time to fire someone” letter. Why is it that employees are made to feel obligated to give 2 weeks’ notice while employers feel free to kick us to the curb without warning? In most cases, an employer is better equipped to handle the sudden loss of an employee than an employee is to handle the sudden loss of a job. It really isn’t fair, but that is the way it works, so going against it is a risk.

      4. TL17

        There are 2 different rights to counsel – both under the 5th and 6th Amendment. They attach at different times.

    3. LBK

      I know you are heavily in favor of enacting the law when applicable and hold a strong belief that doing so shouldn’t have negative effects on your reputation. I agree, but unfortunately we’re miles away from that in reality, so I don’t know that it’s helpful to advise people to do things that could hurt them, even if they’re completely legal.

      If you’re just lamenting that this isn’t something realistic in our current world, that’s fine, but I’d be hesitant to say “It shouldn’t be this way, so you’re safe to act as though it isn’t.”

      1. Mike C.

        I’m not proscribing specific advice, I’m simply pointing out that this shouldn’t be considered “unprofessional” in the same way that calling for a lawyer when charged with a crime shouldn’t be considered “evidence of guilt”.

        1. fposte

          Calling for a lawyer *isn’t* considered evidence of guilt, though; that’s the point.

          But I also don’t really think they work as analogies, because the defaults don’t match. Calling a lawyer should be the default; providing notice should also be the default. As with anything in employment, if you deviate from the default, it’s going to be better if you can put that in context. If it’s just “because I really wanted to start somewhere else,” that’s not a great context.

          (To be honest, I think this is less likely to hurt you than a lot of other irregularities anyway; most people walking away aren’t working in small fields. But I think that it’s important that people know that it *can* hurt you.)

          1. bridget

            Juries take it as evidence of guilt all the time, which is why a prosecutor can’t mention whether or not the defendant invoked his rights to counsel (or his right to remain silent). It is too likely to inappropriately influence the jury into considering that evidence of guilt to be admissible. I think Mike C.’s point is that’s a good rule, because people take things in the wrong way but it’s totally unfair. (We may be veering off a bit too much into criminal procedure and the rules of evidence. Sorry if I’m feeding that flame, Alison).

          2. Anna

            The vast majority of the public I would say assume that if you’re calling a lawyer, or if you refuse to take a polygraph, or if you won’t let someone search your house without a warrant, it’s because you’re guilty and not just because you’re exercising your Constitutionally guaranteed rights. As someone further down said, “If you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t need a lawyer.” Except that’s BS. That’s what he’s saying. The perception is that you’re guilty.

            It’s not a straight across analogy but I can see the principle. It’s bass ackwards to think a person who wants to hire a lawyer before they’re questioned is doing it because their guilty, just like it’s bass ackwards that employees are held to a higher standard of professionalism than employers when it comes to firing/laying off/quitting.

            1. Mike C.

              The polygraph one in particular drives me nuts. It’s completely inadmissible in court (because it’s bunk science), and if you actually pass it does nothing for you.

      2. maggie

        If you take out ‘legal’ from that last sentence, the statement is actually pretty good and a sentiment that we discuss here all the time – that employers have the right to end your position without notice yet we give them two weeks and how unbalanced that is. It’s a fair point.

    4. Anon for this

      Why is the employee always considered “unprofessional” and worthy of suspicion when an employer who does this is not?

      I agree that it’s unequal and unfair, but I’m not sure I agree with this. I think it is considered unprofessional and worthy of suspicion when an employer lays you off starting immediately without any severance. It doesn’t hurt them as much as it might hurt employees, because so many people are desperate for jobs right now, but I don’t think it’s true that no-notice layoffs don’t harm an employer’s reputation, too.

      1. Mike C.

        Maybe in extensive cases there is some bad reputation being generated, but I see a lot of times where it’s defended as “a cost of doing business”.

        1. LBK

          When I’ve seen that, it’s in the context of having to do layoffs at all, and it’s true – sometimes you have to make cuts to staff, either because you’re changing the direction of the business or because you staffed up during a boom and now you’re in a slump that doesn’t justify the amount of people you have working. However, I’ve never seen that logic used to justify doing them in an inhumane way. I think most people understand that layoffs are a necessary evil sometimes, but I think few people would agree that doing them without warning is fair and acceptable.

          1. Mike C.

            Yet employees aren’t given the same consideration when it comes to their own “business”. Where someone would say, “that business needed to save money”, no one ever says, “that employee has bills to pay and jumping to that new job is just the cost of doing business”. It’s great when a business is profitable and successful, but when it comes to the employee, many believe that focusing too much on money makes you selfish and a mercenary.

            1. Zillah

              I’m a little confused.

              For one thing, I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say that no one ever says, “that employee has bills to pay and jumping to that new job is just the cost of doing business – in fact, while I don’t think one’s boss is typically thrilled to get notice, I think that most people understand that the vast majority of employees will not be sticking around for the rest of their lives.

              For another – no one here is saying that the OP is wrong to move on. We’re just saying that two weeks notice is a good thing. So I’m not totally clear on where a lot of this is coming from?

              1. Mike C.

                But they still don’t excuse the employee for wanting to get that benefit right now. Why should an employee have to wait two weeks when an employer can get the benefit right now?

                I’m not talking about the OP specifically. I’ve never mentioned the OP. I’m only addressing this difference in how employers and employees are treated.

            2. LBK

              Where someone would say, “that business needed to save money”, no one ever says, “that employee has bills to pay and jumping to that new job is just the cost of doing business”.

              That is also totally wrong and not accurate. What kind of asshole sociopath managers have you worked for that don’t exhibit empathy towards their employees and understanding that no one stays at a job forever? My manager has actually been actively encouraging me to find a job that’s closer to the work I want to do, and was almost as disappointed as I was when I didn’t get the last one I applied for.

              1. Mike C.

                What kind of asshole sociopath managers have you worked for that don’t exhibit empathy towards their employees and understanding that no one stays at a job forever?

                The kind that force H1-Bs to work 50-60+ hour weeks under the threat of deportation? The kind who fire people on the spot without announcement, severance or even bothering to tell anyone else? And when the person is gone, they are never spoken of again, like they never existed! You can only imagine what this was like when it was the mail guy who was fired.

                Thank goodness I’m past that crap.

                1. Mike C.

                  Oh, and he practiced “reverse nepotism”. He would yell and scream and belittle his own family members while giving them the best jobs in the company.

        2. Judy

          In all the layoffs I’ve witnessed, it was pretty much known to the rest of us the packages that were given. It was in the company’s best interest for the current employees to know that severance was given per the company’s policy (2 weeks per year of employment at my last company).

          They want the remaining employees to see that the people in the RIF were treated fairly well.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            Wow, that would be nice. I’ve been laid off twice, both times with no warning. I don’t recall severance at the first job, although I think they did cash out my sick time. At LastJob, they gave 2 weeks pay in lieu of notice, but I wouldn’t call that severance. They did provide some severance for people who had been there under a previous contract, but I’d only been there 4.5 years, so didn’t qualify.

    5. INTP

      Most people, in my experience, will consider both possibilities: that the employer may have indeed behaved egregiously enough to warrant employees leaving with no notice, that this may be something the employee does without provocation, or something in the middle (leaving wasn’t 100% unwarranted but not necessary either). Employers have self-preservation needs too and cannot give every candidate the benefit of a doubt every time.

      While this is not the kind of thing that would normally result in an immediately revoked offer, if it came up in a reference check later, or there was already some concern about flightiness before the offer was made, or if you were saying you’re available immediately early in the interview process, it could cost you a job, sure.

      1. Mike C.

        I think this is fair, and I understand the issue of “red flags”. I just want to challenge this idea more than anything else.

        1. MK

          The problem is that you are challenging an idea that doesn’t really exist. It’s not as if employees who didn’t give notice are blacklisted without a chance to defend themselves. That being said, potential employers don’t think that it could be something wrong with the previous employer because they neither know or care about them, so they are not wasting time thinking about them. They do have an interest in the employee, so they make a note that they didn’t observe the common professional practise.

        2. INTP

          I do think that the concept of leaving without notice is unfairly stigmatized for employees vs employers, for what it’s worth. People have mentioned that notice is usually given for layoffs, but to me quitting a job because of toxic management should be more akin to a performance-related firing.

          I just would never encourage someone to do it unless their health or new job were at stake because of that stigma. If the OP needs coworkers from this job to provide a reference in the future (sometimes employers want a reference from every recent job), they might not think of what’s fair on a global level but about how OP left everyone with a huge stressful mess to sort out instead of giving an adequate notice to hand off their work.

    6. Laurel Gray

      Mike I agree with your comments in this thread. I think it’s just another example of how employers have the upper hand. I think choosing to NOT give your employer 2 weeks notice should not (always) be seen as unprofessional and part of me (just a part) wishes this norm would go away. Many times when an employee is fired, whether they saw it coming or not, they are not given 2 weeks notice. I hate that it’s a measure of “burning bridges” and think it should be seen as a courtesy and that’s it. Of course, my feelings aside, I would always give minimum 2 weeks notice.

      1. LBK

        Employees don’t typically receive notice of firings in the sense of their manager saying “You’re fired but you can stay here and have two weeks to wrap up your work,” but they get notice in the form of warnings, PIPs, etc. which are pretty common.

        1. Zillah

          Right – there’s not generally a formal “you have two weeks” assigned with firing (and I think most people wouldn’t want that!), but you do generally get some warning and/or severance.

        2. Another Lauren

          But I think this is somewhat missing the point. Warnings and PIPs, while formal disciplinary actions, don’t guarantee a firing (in fact, when done properly, they can even help prevent a firing). The equivalent comparison would be employers getting “notice” via low employee morale, absenteeism, etc. I think Mike C’s point (and what Laurel is agreeing with) is that employers aren’t considered unprofessional for not giving notice of separation (which a warning and a PIP are not, at least not technically) of a set time frame (e.g., two weeks).

          I agree that it is an unfair bias against the employee, and that regardless of whether it is unfair, it is a bad move on most folks’ parts unless there are some particularly extenuating circumstances. It’s almost always best to give 2 weeks notice, even if it shouldn’t have to be that way.

        3. Queen Anon

          They should, but don’t always. Surely I’m not the only person on the board to think things are great then get the surprise review where they tell you everything you’ve done wrong in the past year and how mediocre you are. (That didn’t result in a firing, but did result in me never trusting that manager again.) I’ve also seen managers make things up – yes, lie – so they could get rid of someone they disliked. What you’re saying is often the way it is and should be the norm, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s so.

      2. Jennifer

        When someone is likely to be fired or laid off, it’s more of a “take the hint” sort of thing. As others mentioned, PIP’s, ugly meetings, hearings, etc. but also rumors of layoffs. Or in the case of one place I know, the bosses are *cough* accidentally leaving paperwork regarding the sale of the business “just lying around” even though they haven’t announced anything yet. Oh brother.

    7. Cranberry

      Yep, all of this is true, and a double standard in the at-will employment world. But if you fail to give two weeks’ notice, you’re screwing yourself.

    8. Juni

      If a potential hire regaled me during his or her interview with the important responsibilities he or she had at her current job, which were appealing enough to me to make an offer, I’d be kind of concerned/alarmed if they suddenly were ready to go with no notice, and would make me think twice about how those responsibilities were represented.

    9. MissDisplaced

      I’ve left with zero notice and I’ve left with a month or more notice and everywhere in-between. Personally, I don’t think it matters all that much unless you leave with some kind of huge dramatic exit or something. Generally, I think a week is more than enough for some bad employers as two weeks often feels more awkward as you run out of things to do.

    10. Kyrielle

      The problem is, when someone is willing to leave without notice, if you lack a crystal ball you don’t know if it’s because they are a problem or their old employer is. You can certainly hope it’s the latter…but if it’s the former, do you really want to make them your problem?

  4. curious person

    I think it’s sort of spiteful to not give the proper notice. Why stoop to that level?

    I’m wondering if the other people in the “race to 11” are up for the same job, though. In any case, the OP’s confidence in getting the job pre-interview might be misplaced.

      1. curious person

        Having the right, and using the right where it isn’t absolutely necessary aren’t the same thing. It would be no better coming from an employer who didn’t have a good reason. Two weeks is meant to help everyone adjust to the situation. Also, I agree with the commenter above– I very much enjoyed my last notice period. I worked a 2/3 day, got paid for it, and got to walk away knowing that I’d tidied up.

        1. Mike C.

          That’s great if the two week notice was good for you, but for many people their jobs suck and they want to get out right now. They have that legal right, and so does their employer. Employers who use their right aren’t called “unprofessional”, they aren’t black listed, for them it’s “a cost of doing business”.

          What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

          1. tesyaa

            As others noted, companies that regularly lay people off with zero notice don’t have great reputations either.

            1. Mike C.

              The harm are current employment culture (I just made this up, but I think you get the point) assigns to an employee who does this does much greater harm to them than harm assigned to a company or manager who does the same thing.

              1. Cat

                I think it depends. Leaving without notice doesn’t immediately get you branded with a scarlet U for life. But if you run into someone in a hiring position later who remembers that, it may be looked on poorly. That’s a real risk but it also relies on a lot of “ifs” and gives you some safety valves – if the former co-worker who is now hiring knows you didn’t give notice for good reasons, they’re probably not going to judge you for it. Simultaneously, places that have a reputation for being horrible places to work do suffer for it; they do have a hard time attracting and retaining good employees. Because of inequality in our society overall, the higher-ups at those places are probably unfairly well off compared to many of their employees all the same, but I think that’s a broader issue than the reputational one we’re talking about here that goes both ways.

            2. ThursdaysGeek

              Really? Just about every company that has a computer geek will lay them off with no warning. Large and small, greatly respected — laying off with no warnings doesn’t affect their reputation at all.

              (I have no access to your backups, and it’s not like my personality would completely change from honest to dishonest just because I’m being laid off. You’ve worked with me, you KNOW I would wrap things up professionally and be pleasant about it, if you gave me the chance.)

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I don’t think layoffs without warning are uncommon, or even outrageous as long as they include severance (which the tech industry generally does).

          2. INTP

            Just because you can make a case for it morally or ethically doesn’t make you immune from consequences. I don’t think it would be “wrong” to leave without notice, but it’s still probably not in OPs best interest, so why do it?

            1. Mike C.

              I’m not giving anyone advice on what to do, I’m making the point that this difference in treatment for the same action isn’t well supported and should be challenged.

      2. Observer

        So what? Some of the most unpleasant people I know are the ones who ALWAYS know their rights and ALWAYS stand on their rights.

        This is a RIGHT, not a REQUIREMENT.

        1. Mike C.

          As I’ve said several times when an employer exercises that right, it’s either disliked, explained as a cost of doing business or defended as the employer’s right to run their business as they see fit. When an employee chooses to use this right (which is the very same right employers have!) they’re considered “unpleasant” to “unprofessional”. Given that the source of the right is the same place, why is there a difference?

          There is nothing wrong with knowing or understanding your rights. This is the same attitude that leads to people not asking for a lawyer (because only guilty people need a lawyer) and end up getting railroaded by systems much larger and more powerful than they are.

          1. Ethyl

            “Given that the source of the right is the same place, why is there a difference?”

            I think where people are talking past one another here is right here. There’s *not* a difference. Or perhaps it is a difference not in kind, but in effect. And even then, the difference in effect on a person vs an organization isn’t that the effect is greater on the person than the organization, but is more about how we identify more with a person than we can with a large, faceless corporation. If enough bad press and bad management happens because of no-notice layoffs and reorgs, organizations do feel the impacts — the thing is, it’s not a “feeling” we can necessarily identify with. “Not being able to retain good employees,” “eventually maybe going under,” that kind of thing is hard to *feel.* We CAN identify with not being able to pay your bills, or having people personally dislike you. Those aren’t necessarily “big” effects, though, in the grand cosmic scheme of things.

          2. De Minimis

            I think a better comparison to quitting without notice would be something like a company not paying suppliers or backing out of contracts and leaving customers and suppliers high and dry.

            There’s not really a logical equivalency between quitting a job and a company laying someone off.

          3. Colette

            Who exactly is claiming that laying someone off with no notice or severance is a cost of doing business or the employer’s right to run their business as they see fit?

          4. Observer

            You have several non-sequiturs here.

            Understanding your rights is not the problem. Proclaiming them all the time, especially when it’s in the context of doing things that have a negative impact on others, is a different story.

            Generally when employers fire people without notice or severance, most people do NOT defend it the way you claim. Most people recognize that these kinds of firings are wrong. I’ve seen this kind of thing actually create some fairly negative publicity, in fact.

            Your comparison, by the way, is totally not apt.I’m not even sure it actually always works that way in real life, but when it does work that way, it’s a very, very different set of issues.

            1. Koko

              I’m inclined to agree here. I think our personal experiences can greatly color how we see this. My experience has not been one of seeing employers get away with rampant bad behavior throughout my career–I’ve had first or second-hand experience with two bad employers that greatly suffered from their poor management styles and more than a dozen good-to-great employers. But Mike’s usual postings here suggest that he’s seen the opposite in his career.

    1. A Teacher

      I’ve done it, once. I went from a corporate job to a teaching position mid year. I couldn’t give more than 5 days notice because the school board didn’t approve my actual hire until the week before I started. I would have been open with my boss and told him there was a really good chance that I had a job lined up, but he didn’t make it safe to do that. They had a horrible track record of not making anything safe for employees when it came time for them to leave.

      1. Observer

        That sounds like a legitimate reason for short notice. And, if you let people know the reason, most reasonable people will understand. And, anyone familiar with your boss’ track record would understand why you didn’t say anything till you have the approval.

        And, this also illustrates one of the costs of being a jerk boss.

        1. Mike C.

          There are many reasons that you cannot give the reason. What happens if your boss was abusive or sexually harassing you? What if they were acting in an unethical or illegal manner?

          Current culture dictates that you never ever ever say anything bad about your last employer, so many of the reasons for just leaving can never be shared.

          1. Koko

            Certainly–as others here have said–if you’re in an abusive, unethical, or illegal situation, you can forego the two weeks notice. But those situations aren’t the norm, which is why the norm is to give two weeks notice.

            Also, it’s not that you “never ever ever say anything bad” about an employer. It’s that you demonstrate that you understand tactfulness. And that doesn’t mean never saying anything bad…it’s more like not going overboard with it, saying things that sound fair, objective, and validatable by a third party if necessary. “High turnover and uncertain future” is more tactful than “my boss was a sociopath who undermined my work and blocked my promotions” even though they are different ways of describing the same situation. The first one tells the employer what they need to know – why you’re leaving – without getting into subjective/unverifiable gossip.

            I went on a first date last week and I’m coming off a really bad breakup of a really dysfunctional long-term relationship. I did not spend the first date telling the guy about how awful my ex is and why we broke up. It’s not because I owe my ex anything or because he has any power over me. It’s because this new guy doesn’t know me yet and he would have know way of knowing if I’m some crazy person obsessed with my ex, or who makes a big conflict out of small issues and vilifies everyone I date and will do the same thing to him when we break up.

            And if it goes well, once we’ve been dating for a while, I can share with him more of the truth. Just like my coworkers now all know exactly what I disliked or even hated about my last couple of jobs. If you really must make sure that your old employer gets what’s coming to them, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to tell the stories to people with whom you’ve established a rapport and credibility. An interview just isn’t the place for those stories.

    2. MissDisplaced

      Spiteful? Well, it all depends on where you work and what the environment is like. If they’ve been treating you horribly, or the situation is abusive and toxic, or you feel they will retaliate when you give notice, then why should they deserve better? Would they do the same for you if they wanted to fire you? These types of places & people will not give you a good reference anyway, no matter what you do. That’s not being spiteful, it’s called putting yourself and your own well being first.

      1. Koko

        But it’s not putting your own well-being first if it’s going to backfire and damage your professional reputation. It’s not that they deserve better – it’s that you do.

        If the employer is crappy to their employees, they’ve dug their own grave and will continue to have high turnover, gaps in institutional memory, and lackluster performance from disgruntled employees. They’re already paying for their mistakes. You have the opportunity to get out and have something better. Why tank your own reputation on the way out the door just to try to punish an employer who is already damaging their own company in ways far more severe than 2 weeks without you ever could?

  5. Anon Accountant

    I completely understand where the OP is coming from but how about keeping a small countdown calendar in a car or at home? It can be satisfying to mark off the days until your final day. :)

  6. Adam

    Even when you have every reason not to, ultimately it’s still in your best interest to do the right thing. There may be no apparent payoff from it, but at the very least whatever happens you can feel confident knowing that you kept your own nose clean.

    1. Mike C.

      Why is using your legal rights granted under at will employment laws not “the right thing to do”?

      1. tesyaa

        It’s like being polite even when the person you’re dealing with is a jerk. You don’t have to do it, but a lot of people will make the effort anyway.

        1. Mike C.

          Why is it considered being a jerk to use your rights in this case? Employers who do so are not similarly chastised, so what’s the difference here?

          1. LBK

            That’s not what tesyaa is saying – she’s saying being nice (staying with the company for 2 weeks) in the face of a jerk (a bad employer that makes you want to quit) is something a lot of people will do, even if it’s not fun or directly advantageous to them.

            1. Mike C.

              But now “being nice” has gone from “something nice you can choose to do” to a reason to call someone unprofessional or worse if they don’t.

              1. Adam

                Even if we leave the employer itself out of it, leaving without notice would likely leave her fellow co-workers in a lurch trying to figure out everything she was working on. That sounds pretty unprofessional, wouldn’t you say?

                1. Mike C.

                  It’s not an employee’s fault the managers didn’t prepare for the likely event that someone might, at some point in their lives, change jobs.

                2. Adam

                  We’re talking about office environments, not a fire department or something. To be fully prepared to replace an employee at a moment’s notice the managers would have to know everything he was doing and what clients they were speaking to, to the letter, at all times. No one wants to work like that, much less has the time for that.

                3. Mike C.

                  Adam, no they wouldn’t. Taking basic steps like cross-training employees and documenting processes will address many of the issues you raise.

                4. Adam

                  I have never worked in an office where two employees have the exact same job duties, even if they have the same title. We can document processes to high heaven, but day-to-day projects evolve and get snafus and every other little thing that goes on. This goes doubly so if the position is a front facing one where they are frequently speaking with people outside the organization itself. There’s a reason two weeks notice norm exists to begin with, because a sudden departure simply can’t be 100% mitigated ahead of time.

                5. LBK

                  Cross-training and making sure your processes are documented don’t cover keeping everyone up to date on the actual on-going projects/cases each person is handling. You might understand how to do the work, but there will still be a transition period of figuring out where each case stands and what the next step is.

              2. Elsajeni

                Well… yes. If you’re talking to someone you don’t like at a party or whatever, you can be polite and excuse yourself to “refill your drink,” or you can loudly call him an asshole and storm off. You absolutely have the right to do the latter, but it carries some risk that the other people around you will think, “Wow, maybe that guy is the actual asshole here,” and decide not to invite you next time, or that the guy you were talking to will tell all his friends his side of the story and you’ll get a reputation for flying off the handle at parties. Same deal here — you can be professional (polite) and give enough notice to wrap up loose ends, or you can quit on the spot, but if you quit on the spot, people who notice it or hear about it might think you, not the employer, are the problem. It’s not a question about legality, it’s a question about etiquette and reputation.

          2. LBK

            Also, employers who fire people without notice or in bad ways are chastised all the time. There was just a huge thread of stories about crappy firing practices the other day on the letter about what time of day to fire someone.

            1. Mike C.

              Those stories dealt with issues regarding managers specifically treating their employees like garbage – personal insults, firing with the intent of denying vested benefits and so on. If an employee quit and decided to trash the office, sexually harass the receptionist or key the boss’s car, we’d call them out in the same manner.

              If an employer wants to fire people to save money or what not, few even bat an eye because “it’s a cost of doing business”. Yet if someone offers an employee better benefits and a 20% raise, they’re still expected to stay for two weeks. Why can’t they similarly leave as “a cost of doing business”?

              1. Zillah

                I disagree that few bat an eye. I think that people who are desperate (and there are a lot more of those than desperate employers!) will overlook it because they need a job, but I don’t know many people who wouldn’t see laying off or firing people with no notice as a pretty crummy thing to do.

              2. LBK

                I completely disagree. People bat eyes at firing people/laying people off this way all the time. I think you’re making a strawman argument here.

              3. Koko

                When something is called a “cost of doing business” that generally refers to a loss experienced by the employer. Such as, your employee broke a $1500 printer/copier/fax machine and you have to replace it. That’s a cost of doing business. Things that help the business cut costs are not “costs of doing business.”

          3. Adam

            I’d say employers who do so often are chastised, but there’s no impact for it. You can call it an unfair power differential, but it is what it is.

            1. MK

              There is often no impact for the employee either. Their reputation takes a little dent with specific people, but the actual harm can vary from severe (if you lose a job that could set you on a great career path) to zero (maybe the whole thing will be forgotten in a few weeks).

          4. MK

            There is no difference, because they are similarly chastised. All your arguments start from this position, that employers who fire people on the spot, without warning and without reason, are not criticised for it. That’s simply not a universally accepted fact.

          5. Koko

            Employers who fire people without notice and without severance ARE judged negatively for it. I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that they’re not.

      2. Adam

        What they said. It may be your legal right to stage a protest across the street from a military funeral, but a lot of people are going to think you’re a jerk for doing so.

        1. Mike C.

          You’re comparing the legal end of employment with some crazy church blaming the deaths of soldiers on gay people. That doesn’t even make sense.

          1. Adam

            You’re letting your view of said protesters (and they’re WAY more people who protest that than just crazy church goers) color the argument. Rights are rights, and in the US you can exercise them legally and still be a jerk.

            1. Mike C.

              But when an employer exercises them they suffer few if any consequences. No one calls an employer “unprofessional” or stops doing business with them for simply trimming their costs by firing people. Yet when an employee wants to do the same thing (A cost of their business!) it’s treated as “acting rude” and being “unprofessional”.

              Why is it that it’s ok for an employer to realize the cost savings of firing someone right away, but an employee must wait to weeks to realize their own benefits for finding a better job? That doesn’t make sense.

              1. Adam

                “Firings” are usually referred to as “lay offs” which is a completely different kettle of fish, and even with layoffs I see plenty of people speaking out about best practices in regards to doing that and criticizing them when businesses do it poorly. Business have reputations that are colored by what they do and how people respond to them. The impact may not be appreciable on a large scale most of the time, but it isn’t non-existent.

                1. Mike C.

                  But you still have people defending to the figurative death the right for a manager to run their business as they see fit, including the ability to fire people without notice. You don’t see that same defense for employees to do the same thing.

                2. Zillah

                  @ Mike – I mean, okay, sure, but no one here defends that at all, at least not that I’ve seen. In fact, I suspect that most AAM readers think that layoffs/firings should be handled in a dignified way that gives employees at least some support in moving on.

              2. Koko

                Layoffs to cut costs nearly always include severance pay. That’s different from a same-day firing without severance, which is generally for cause/performance/conflict reasons, not for budgetary reasons. I would like to hear of these companies that are just deciding to downsize positions to save money, laying off employees with no notice, closing the position and not rehiring for it, and not paying the laid-off employees any severance.

          2. LBK

            I believe the point is that “it’s your legal right” isn’t a good justification for something being acceptable, just as “it’s illegal” is a bad justification for why something is immoral. Saying “what I’m doing is perfectly legal” also isn’t a magic shield that protects you from judgment.

            1. Mike C.

              This is correct.

              I wasn’t being as clear as I could, but what I’m really trying to get at is that if an employer can use their legal rights, then an employee should be able to use their own as well.

              1. LBK

                Both are within their rights to do that, yes, but both also have to consider the consequences of doing so. Again, something being legal doesn’t protect you from judgment or repercussions.

                I agree that there’s a power differential in which a company will almost always suffer less from laying someone off in a bad way than the employee does, and vice versa – the employee probably suffers more from not giving notice than the company does in the long run.

                I think we’re getting better at publicizing companies who have bad practices thanks to sites like Gawker and viral culture, but the state of the economy also doesn’t help. With the job market the way it is, people can’t afford to be as selective about who they work for – I’m sure no one has warm fuzzy feelings about Walmart’s employment practices, but if it’s a choice between taking a job offer from them and not paying your rent…well…

                1. Mike C.

                  Sure you need to look at consequences and specific situations and what not. What I’m trying to express here isn’t specific advice for the OP (or anyone else for that matter) but the idea that we shouldn’t reflexively see someone who leaves a job as “bad”, “unprofessional”, “rude”, etc. I know this is the reality of the world and people need to act within that reality, but I don’t have to like it.

                2. LBK

                  What I’m trying to express here isn’t specific advice for the OP (or anyone else for that matter) but the idea that we shouldn’t reflexively see someone who leaves a job as “bad”, “unprofessional”, “rude”, etc.

                  I agree with just this statement on its own (to an extent, because sometimes it does indicate being unprofessional). However, I disagree with what seems to be the basis for your argument, which is that we let companies off the hook for laying people off without notice, therefore we should allow employees to do the same. I think that’s a serious strawman argument.

                  If that’s not actually the basis of the argument, please correct me, but it seems to be your main point in favor of giving people the benefit of the doubt. I would argue that regardless of how companies act we should give people the benefit of the doubt – even if 99.9% of companies did layoffs flawlessly and in a humane manner, I’d still want to hear someone out if they cut and run, because it’s not about making things fair between corporations vs. people. It’s about being fair to that person, full stop.

                3. Mike C.

                  Why do you believe this is a strawman argument? Whenever discussion comes up about “European Labor Laws” or “Government Unions” in the context of only being able to fire people for documented cause, one routinely sees arguments against such policies because “an employer should have the right to run their business as they see fit”.

                  So when an employer is “running their business the way they see fit” in this context, it means they have the ability to and do end employment with no notice and no reason. That ability to end employment with no notice and no reason is mirrored to the employee as well. But when an employee does it, they’re being unprofessional. There shouldn’t be a difference – it’s either bad for both or it’s good for both.

                4. LBK

                  Being able to fire someone without following a procedure outlined by the government or a union is totally different from firing with impunity, without warning and without cause. People don’t want to feel hamstrung by bureaucracy when they know someone is a problem, myself included. That doesn’t mean they want to be able to cut someone loose at a moment’s notice without consequences, and furthermore I don’t believe that anyone here believes it’s right to fire someone without any kind of warning, as has been discussed ad infinitum.

          3. curious person

            It’s a good analogy. Adam is saying that a lot of not very nice behavior is legal. The fact that it’s legal doesn’t make it a good standard to live by. Employers who don’t treat their employees right can expect to develop a bad reputation (hello, Glassdoor). Same for employees– it is inconsiderate to leave without notice, both to your management and to your co-workers.

            1. Adam

              Right. How many times has Alison had to answer the “Is this legal?” question with “Yes, even though it may suck”?

          4. Decimus

            There is a difference between “legal” and “proper behavior” – it would be legal for me to cut off all contact with my family and never speak to them ever again. There’s no law preventing it. Should I? Well, if they were abusive, then it might be justified. As it is, they’d be horribly hurt. In this case, leaving without notice is only proper if the situation is actually abusive, not merely horrible (if you follow me). If the OP was being actively harassed by the boss, threatened, or reduced to crying at the thought of going in, then quitting without notice could be explained. Similarly, if the company immediately fires people once they give notice, leaving without notice is acceptable. Otherwise, it’s better to give two weeks notice and just ride it out.

            1. Mike C.

              But you need to explain why it’s improper for an employee to leave for a better job right away, but it’s not improper for an employer to fire someone under a similar timeline.

                1. Mike C.

                  A few folks have brought up the issue of layoffs during bad times, but as this post is centered around the employee, there aren’t many. You will find such comments crop up in places where folks argue the pros/cons of requiring employers to fire only for cause.

                2. Zillah

                  But no one here is saying that it’s not improper to fire someone with no notice and no severance, so I don’t see how you can ask any of us to explain something we don’t believe.

              1. DMC

                Well, if an employee is terminated for misconduct, they are fired immediately for good reason. Employers don’t want the misconduct to continue or risk the employee sabotaging the business. For example, if a health care worker is fired for abusing clients, the employer fires them immediately and doesn’t let the person work for two weeks so he or she can continue to abuse clients in that time. When it comes to layoffs, on the other hand, many companies provide either notice or severance. Not all, of course, and usually the case for not doing it is with a business that is already struggling financially and about to go under, it may not be able to afford severance. It could provide notice, and that’s the better way to approach it, but sometimes there’s a moral cost to letting people who’ve been laid off continue to work for a couple of weeks (not to mention the risk of sabotage). There’s not the same kind of “sabotage” risk when an employee quits (except that quitting with no notice may come into play when any references are checked in the future).

      3. fposte

        Why is only paying minimum wage not “the right thing to do”? You’re meeting the legal requirement, right?

        I don’t disagree with you about the asymmetry, but I don’t think the asymmetry is enough to make the convention irrelevant. It’s more like freedom of speech–you absolutely have the right to exercise freedom of speech, and I absolutely have a right to think what I want of you for exercising it and tell people what I think.

    2. BRR

      I said yesterday, sometimes it’s hard but you need to play by a different set of rules than the other party

      1. Adam

        Best way I ever heard it put was (unfortunately paraphrasing since I don’t remember it exactly) “Do not let scoundrels dictate the rules of honor to you.”

          1. Adam

            Once again: honor/morality/what is right and what is legal are not the same thing. Ethics may be a superfluous class on a college course list, but it doesn’t exist just for the heck of it.

            1. Mike C.

              I’m not saying they are, I’m directly asking you to justify why leaving a job with no notice is “unprofessional” while firing someone with no notice is not. You’re simply defining an employee leaving without notice as “bad” without saying why, in light of the common practice of employers ending employment with no notice. I’m asking why.

              1. LBK

                I’m not saying they are, I’m directly asking you to justify why leaving a job with no notice is “unprofessional” while firing someone with no notice is not.

                Who are these people saying firing someone without notice isn’t professional!? This is something we talk about almost every day on AAM – that firing should be done as the result of a period of warnings and coaching, and that it’s really crappy to fire someone for problems you’ve never brought to their attention. You are shoot at phantoms here.

                1. Mike C.

                  I’m not saying it’s happened here, I’m saying it’s a common sentiment within the business/employment/professional media environment. There are lots of comments where people bring in their own experience into a comment thread, I’m not sure why someone else has to say something for me to recognize it as a common issue or to argue against it.

                  It’s the same thing about those stupid articles about “Millennials”. Here you don’t see people making stupid generational comments, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue elsewhere or that it’s unworthy of pointing out when the topic comes up.

                2. LBK

                  My point isn’t just that it’s not happening here, my point is that I don’t believe it’s true that corporations are given impunity to cut people loose without consequences. Sure, on an individual basis, some people may believe that, but the opposite is an equally common sentiment. The ferocity of your argument makes it sound like the most common view is that it’s fine for corporations to do this, which I don’t think is true.

                3. Zillah

                  But Mike, you’re not just complaining about the inequalities between employers and employees. You’re specifically asking us to defend a point of view we clearly don’t ascribe to. For example –

                  I’m directly asking you to justify why leaving a job with no notice is “unprofessional” while firing someone with no notice is not.

                  When an employee chooses to use this right (which is the very same right employers have!) they’re considered “unpleasant” to “unprofessional”. Given that the source of the right is the same place, why is there a difference?

                  No one ever says, “that employee has bills to pay and jumping to that new job is just the cost of doing business.”

                  When an employee chooses to use this right (which is the very same right employers have!) they’re considered “unpleasant” to “unprofessional”. Given that the source of the right is the same place, why is there a difference?

                  Why is it considered being a jerk to use your rights in this case? Employers who do so are not similarly chastised, so what’s the difference here?

                  The equivalent in your millennials example would be insisting that everyone commenting justify or explain why comments and articles critical of millennials were okay, even though they didn’t write or endorse or even necessarily read them, and didn’t agree in the first place.

              2. Adam

                I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m going to say literally no one in this topic has said that letting someone go from their job with no prior notice is a good thing. No one. In this day of social media and increasing scrutinizing of businesses by the public company’s that get found out for doing so usually get bad reputations that drive away the best talent who can afford to be choosy, among other consequences. What you’re mad about is a power imbalance because the repercussions on one party (the business) aren’t equivalent to the other (individual employees) for performing the same action. I don’t even know what sort of repercussions you could expect to levy on businesses in the habit of doing this. Rights mean you can act in those ways legally and not get punished by the government. It’s up to the society to change the culture of business if you think same day terminations should garner a stronger reaction.

                And when you work for a business you’re in an agreement with them. You agreed to do the work so long as the relationship was active and leaving with zero notice throws everything in a mess for them and is going to prompt judgment. If I agree to watch a friend’s dog while they go on vacation and then drop them the day they’re supposed to leave because I found out something about them I don’t like or just because I found something better to do, they are going to be pissed and my social stock in that community may fall depending on who listens to who, which goes on in business all the time.

                1. Mike C.

                  And when you work for a business you’re in an agreement with them. You agreed to do the work so long as the relationship was active and leaving with zero notice throws everything in a mess for them and is going to prompt judgment.

                  No, this isn’t actually true. The agreement that has been made is that you will work for them until one or both parties decides to end that agreement. That’s the law. If an employer wants a different agreement, then they can write up a contract.

                  If you want the freedom to fire people at a whim, then you must deal with people who can fire you at a whim. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

                2. Adam

                  And where I’m the person being fired or the one doing the firing, I am free to judge them however I wish without violating any laws or rights. Since at-will goes both ways that means either party can end the relationship for whatever legal reason they want, but the means in which it’s done is totally up for personal scrutiny.

                3. LBK

                  If you want the freedom to fire people at a whim, then you must deal with people who can fire you at a whim. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

                  Yes, that is and everyone agrees. HOWEVER, neither party is also therefore exempt from judgment about using their sword. That’s what you seem to be refusing to accept. You’re creating a fantasy scenario in which corporations are held harmless from hits to their reputation that employees have to take, and that is not how the world actually works.

                4. LBK

                  Additionally, if you’re saying that we should give more of the benefit of the doubt to someone who quits a job on the spot, we also have to give that benefit of the doubt to companies that lay off/fire without warning. You can’t have it both ways, where we assume the worst when a company drops someone suddenly but assume the best when an employee quits without notice. That doesn’t make any sense.

        1. Tornader

          I think it comes down to the golden rule. The person with the gold makes all the rules.

          While being a bit facetious, I do believe it has everything to do with the power dynamic. Professionalism is often colored by this. A boss having a stern talk with an employee about his performance and what needs done to improve is being tough yet professional. An employee having a stern talk with his boss about his performance and how he needs to improve falls more toward unprofessional. Of course there are other things to consider in every case, but I feel a good argument can be made.

        2. Koko

          You’re challenging the idea that leaving without notice is unprofessional because you don’t think the consequences of unprofessionalism are evenly distributed. But that doesn’t make sense. You could argue that the consequences of a work being unprofessional are more significant to the worker than the consequences of being unprofessional are to the company, and you could challenge whether that’s fair. But what makes the behavior professional or unprofessional is the behavior itself. The behavior is unprofessional whether or not it’s fair that someone is harmed by being unprofessional.

          An analogy would be to say you’re challenging the idea that the sun is hot because it’s not fair that pale people burn faster in the sun than darker-skinned people. The sun is hot whether or not it’s fair that someone is harmed by the sun being hot.

  7. Snarkus Aurelius

    This letter made no sense to me in that there’s no transpsrent or, at the very least, threatening reason to not give two weeks notice.

    Poor management is no excuse.

    Don’t feel guilty for quilting your job; do feel guilty for considering doing it without notice.

    1. MissDisplaced

      Op should feel no “guilt” if they want to quit without notice in an “at will” work environment. We are not owned by a company and can exercise our free will. AND there should be no guilt or punishment about it.

  8. Judy

    I’ve not yet left a job that I didn’t feel concerned about those I left behind. I don’t believe I’m indispensable, but I certainly believe even in the best environments, they will have a rough time for a while. And those bad environments, where management won’t or can’t replace someone, I know it will be really tough for them.

    But I have to do what is best for me and my family. There is a point where I have to make the hard choices, and I’ve certainly stayed places longer than I should have because I enjoy working with my team.

    1. Judy

      I guess I didn’t answer anything here. I do agree that you should give two weeks notice, but I also think you shouldn’t beat yourself up over choosing to leave.

      1. Elizabeth West

        + a million. If all the other employees would run screaming out the door with you, then there’s no real incentive to feel guilty. In fact, the OP’s decision to leave might spur someone else to make the move he/she needs to make.

    2. themmases

      I agree. I won a race to leave my last job and I felt kind of bad about it. The dread I felt at inheriting my friend’s work if she won and being there without even someone to vent to sucked, and I definitely didn’t wish it on her even though I was happy to have won. Our job was so stressful and upsetting that I reduced my contact with her somewhat for a while, just because it threw off my whole day to hear about that place.

      Here’s the thing, though: once I got some distance from that job, we turned out to be real friends, not just work friends. She’s happy for me even though she’s still there for just a little longer, and even though I can’t gchat with her 9-5 anymore I would never want to cut her off completely. If the OP’s coworkers turn out to be real friends, OP will still be in their lives and support them while they work on getting out too. If they turn out to be friends for just this job that’s OK too– but people don’t hold their careers back for work-only friends.

  9. kozinskey

    I think a good compromise here might be to tell New Job you can start in two weeks, then consult with management at Old Job to see how long they really need your transition period to be. You could probably even tell them that your last day has to be the Wednesday of the week before your start at the New Job or earlier, since it’s reasonable to need a couple days of down time between jobs.

    1. Dynamic Beige

      New Job also probably expects that you couldn’t show up the next day, anyway. So there’s no harm in giving them the standard “I would need to give CurrentJob 2 weeks notice upon accepting your offer of employment” If your Current Job has a policy of walking people to the door, or letting that be their last day, it would then be up to you to decide if you wanted to call NewJob and say you can start sooner or take a bit of a break for yourself.

    2. AndersonDarling

      Since management is so terrible, they may ask the OP to leave as soon as the notice is given.
      At one of my first jobs, I gave a one weeks notice. It was a compromise, I wanted to leave right then but there were a few things to tie up. Two weeks would have been too long to transfer my work and I would have been sitting with nothing to do.

  10. CG

    Just consider that two weeks only seems like a long time because you’re looking down the barrel at it, not in the middle of it yet. I just finished up a job where, while I didn’t have quite the same feelings as OP, I nevertheless couldn’t wait to get out of there for a variety of reasons. Two weeks was barely enough time to get ready and leave everyone in good standing and it went by in a blink. I think you’re always better off leaving on a good note, whether you liked the job or not.

    1. themmases

      I agree. I gave a very long notice at my last job– at least a month– and it still went by very fast. In my case we did have a replacement in mind for me so having to train her was balanced out by being able to give her a lot of my work. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but between training, finishing things like data analysis that were best completed by one person, and writing up how to do the parts of my job that don’t come up that often, it still didn’t feel like enough time.

      Also, I don’t know how common this is, but my job really turned into a big love-fest for the last few weeks. A very stressful part of my job had been how much my boss could blow hot and cold. Some days I’d be the second coming of research coordinators, and other days my PI would be looking through her email for stuff she could forward to my supervisor and claim I didn’t do. That last month was all about how valuable I’d been to the program, make sure to write up exactly how *I* would do things, please consider coming back when I finish grad school, etc. Sure I took it with a grain of salt, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a pleasant way to spend the last few weeks.

  11. HarryV

    The OP doesn’t care about their reputation if they leave with no notice but feel bad for their co workers who understandable has fought alongside with them. You can’t have it both ways and get everything you want. I assure you your co workers will be bitter and despise you if you leave with no notice. It puts them in a very difficult position to do their own work and figure out what you’ve been working on.

  12. The IT Manager

    #1 – Guilt at leaving a job, co-workers, good boss is normal. It means you developed good relationships with these your co-workers.

    #2 – Don’t quit with no notice. There’s no good reason in your letter to do this. You not only burn bridges with your company and management, but also your co-workers who will remember that one day you just up and quit suddenly rather than working the normal two week notice.

    Two weeks notice is not to give your employer time to hire a replacement; that’s not enough time for that. It’s to give you time to transition, wrap-up everything, say good-bye. I know you say there are 5 other people doing to job now, but you may need to pass info about customers, projects, whatever to your co-workers whom you like to make it a smoother transition for them.

    And if for some reason when you say you’re leaving, you’re escorted out immediately either enjoy the time off or contact your new company and ask if you can start a earlier than planned. (If money is an issue (it’s annoying paperwork for a small time period) but you should be able to get unemployment for the two weeks you’re between jobs.)

  13. Seal

    The one and only time I walked off a job without notice was in college. The branch library I worked in at the time merged with another library on campus; all of the students in these libraries were supposed to keep their jobs, albeit with different supervisors. The first day at our new location, all of my former coworkers and I discovered that we had been lied to by our new supervisor about the type of work we would be doing. In my case, I had been repeatedly assured that I would continue to work at the circulation desk because I was considered one of their best and longest-tenured employees and that they needed my expertise to assist with the transition. Instead, I was given a truck of books to shelve by some creepy staff member I had never met and told that because of where I had worked before he’d be keeping an eye on me. I finished my shift, walked into my supervisor’s office and quit on the spot. The a-hole had the nerve to act surprised when I told him that I had been lied to about my job duties – he was the one who had told all of us what we would be doing before our branch library closed. Fortunately, I was able to get another in a different campus library pretty quickly.

    As satisfying as it was to quit on the spot at the time I can’t imagine that I would ever do it again, although I will admit to having been tempted to do so. Now, regardless of the circumstances surrounding my leaving a job I make a point of giving ample notice, tying up as many loose ends as I can and cleaning out my work area. I’ve found that to be much more satisfying that telling my boss off and storming out the door. If you’re leaving because your boss is a jerk or because you got jerked around once too often, people will know it; if you rise above all that nonsense and make a classy exit, people will respect you for it.

    1. manybellsdown

      I also walked off a job without notice once. It followed a few incidents where I got in trouble for actually following the written procedures (apparently I was supposed to know not to follow them unless someone was bleeding to death). And then I was asked to do something extremely unethical and possibly illegal, and that was the last straw.

    2. Rabbit

      Did the same thing here (though it was a few years out of college). I was hired to be a Teapot Designer after 3 interviews showcasing my designs, and on my first day of my new gig, management told me that they’d given that job to someone else, and I would instead be the Teapot Salesperson (something I have NO interest or background in)/Showroom Assistant/Teapot Production Assistant. I was shocked but had already quit a toxic job, so no going back. I gave it the ole college try and really tried to learn and make the best of it, but they treated me (and others) with no respect. I spent a lot of that summer getting coffee and sorting teapots by size in their blazing-hot dirty warehouse (southern California in August!). I had gotten another job offer and they were pressuring me to start right away. Fed up with sweating my ass off and being covered in dirt and grime, I walked into the warehouse one morning, gave my manager the showroom key, and told her that I was sorry but I couldn’t do it anymore.

      The owner called me right away asking what had happened, and I explained calmly. Later he told everyone in the office he fired me. The company went bankrupt a few weeks later. Bye forever.

      I know it was unprofessional, and I wouldn’t do it again, but I still don’t really feel any remorse. If I walked into an interview and saw one of the old managers there, I really would lose interest in the job anyway. I might have been young and dumb, but for me, it was the right move at the right time.

    3. themmases

      I walked off a job once too. I worked at a department store that was under strict new management, so we were staying way after hours almost every night making the store look clean enough for this new person. The air conditioning and the plumbing both broke (this was in Chicago in the summer, so the heat was quite real). Other stores in the strip wouldn’t let us use their bathrooms, so we got porta-potties and the night people had to just use the broken bathrooms without flushing. I would spend my shift doing things like moving furniture so it wouldn’t get leaked on, walking in standing water that had backed up from the drain to try to rescue merchandise, and roping off the wettest areas of the juniors’ department but not telling customers (who of course still let their kids play on that carpet) the real reason why. There were no plans to professionally clean anything. All with intermittent air conditioning at best. Several of my coworkers claimed they were going to call OSHA.

      One day I was getting ready to put away an armload of stuff from the fitting room. The air conditioning had broken again, and my coworker came up to tell me the plumbing– which had just been repaired the week before– had broken again too. Of course the porta-potties had already been taken away. A little bit later I took my lunch and never returned. That was about 7 years ago, and no, I’m not sorry.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      I actually walked off a job the day after I gave my 2 weeks.

      Management had been pretty terrible for a long time, and the office was full of cliques and sneaky, competitive people. I turned in my notice for 2 weeks, but the next day, when I came back, it was just as if everyone had turned their Jerk factor up to 11. I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep trying to work with people who clearly didn’t want me there, so I talked to my manager and changed my last day to that day.

      Fun fact: a few months later, all the jerks and jerk-managers got fired.

    5. Elizabeth West

      I did it once. It was my third day, When I made a mistake, which I had immediately offered to rectify, the owner/manager screamed at me (yes, actually screamed). The job also was supposed to be a front desk job, but then on my second day, I found out I would have to do a bunch of personal stuff for the owners (I didn’t mind this–it was just busywork for their church, nothing major). The kicker was that I would also have to do a client’s payroll (it was an accounting firm), which I cannot do and was not disclosed to me when I was hired.

      After the screaming fit, I went into the other owner’s office and told him I could not work there anymore, mostly because of the outburst and the payroll thing. I said I was very sorry, but that the payroll work was out of the scope of my position and my abilities. And that if the other manager (it was his wife) thought it was okay to yell at me, she was wrong. He tried like hell to get me to stay, but I was adamant. They cut me a check for my work , apologized for the yelling, and wished me well. I never put it on any resume and it has not been an issue.

    6. I'm a Little Teapot

      I left a job without notice when I was being paid way below minimum wage and had to wheedle even that pittance out of my employer. He responded by telling me he’d been doing me a favor because I wasn’t smart enough or hardworking enough to get a job anywhere else, like an abusive spouse saying “No one else would ever love you.” (A month later, I had a new job which actually operated legally.)

      I also cut out a week early from a two-week notice when I just couldn’t bear working for the boss who made me cry every day any more. (The next time I saw him was when I was called as a witness for his trial for assaulting my coworker.)

      In both cases, I was definitely rude and unprofessional. But I don’t regret that – my bosses were awful people who didn’t deserve politeness or professionalism.

  14. AB

    I was in an extremely similar situation a few months ago. In fact, the day after I quit (without notice) the director of the department, a person with over 30 years of working in the same municipal system, quit without notice. Our workplace was toxic, badly managed, and we weren’t the only ones to get fed up enough to walk out. Was it terrifying to quit a job without something else lined up? Yes. Did I feel guilty about doing it because I knew doing so would be viewed as “unprofessional” or potentially damage my chances at a new job? Oh yes. But was my well being and health more important than those things? You betcha. When I went on interviews I was upfront about it without getting into gossip or negativity and my interviewers were receptive to my honesty. I was offered several jobs a month after I walked out of a job that was causing health and relationship issues due to how stressed out and miserable I became after working there. I don’t know all of the details of your situation and like other have commented things may go differently, but since you haven’t gone on the interview and it isn’t a lock I would weigh everything before you do anything you may regret later. If its as bad as you say your co-workers will understand and if they’re looking to leave do YOU really want to be left behind alone in a bad work environment?

    1. Helen

      How did you explain your situation to interviewers? I left without a job lined up and it’s hard to find a way to explain that I wasn’t just being a flake, without speaking negatively of my former employer.

      1. AB

        When/if they asked anything about current my responsibilities, position, boss, etc. I would answer truthfully and I would add something like, “I just want to let you know that I’ve recently separated from this job/position. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a good fit and due to some things I witnessed I wasn’t comfortable with the ethics of the people there and I felt my safety was at risk.” Most people didn’t press for details because I think they understood that it must have been bad circumstances. What I said was 100% true without getting into the specifics of the situation.

  15. Katerina

    So disagree with the response of “give them 2 weeks”.. Leave with whatever notice period that is comfortable to you. Don’t be afraid of “burning bridges”. When companies lay off, they are not afraid to burn bridges. Why should you? When you are quitting, you are in fact laying off your employer because they did not perform according to your expectations. When I left one company with a 5 day notice, they’ve questioned it. I replied that 2 weeks before they gave people 15 minute notice and walked them out the door in a layoff, so if they have an issue with 5 days, I could give them their own 15 minute notice. Guess what? They did not take me up on that offer! I stayed 5 days and handed off my duties in perfect order. Bottom line: they deserve as much notice as YOU feel like giving. As far as coworkers – how much good will 2 weeks be to your coworkers when it takes 2-3 months to hire a new person and a few more to train? If you really feel for them, you’d have to give 6 months notice to make a difference…

    1. LBK

      This is a totally fallacious argument. Many companies DO worry about how they lay people off and try to give as much notice as possible to ease the transition, because they want to balance the business needs with being humane. The expectation of a 2 week transition period also has nothing to do with hiring, it has to do with giving ample time to wrap up your existing work and transition it to your coworkers.

      I suppose in your specific case it may be more justified, but in my company they gave everyone 2 months of notice that departments would be closing. Cutting out on a company based on some monolithic corporate evil is asinine, and thinking that way will hurt you more than help you in the long run.

      1. Judy

        As I’ve said above, in my more than 20 years as an engineer at 4 companies, 3 of whom are on F500, after layoffs, the company makes sure that the remaining employees know that the people who were laid off received a package. My last company even went so far as to remind us of the corporate severance package (2 weeks pay for each year of service).

        They wanted the rest of us to know how they handled the layoffs.

        1. LBK

          Exactly. Companies DO think about how they do this stuff, because they know there can be repercussions if they do it carelessly.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            I think his point is that companies can lay off with no notice (and many do) and that is not considered unprofessional. It’s really nice hearing that there are some that do give notice, or at least severance, but the ones that don’t are not considered unprofessional. I don’t agree that because companies do it, that we should do it back. I do wish that because we provide notice that it would only be considered professional for companies to also do it.

            It’s standard for companies to lay off IT people with no notice. If they happen to be a company that doesn’t provide severance, then they go with that. And their reputation is fine.

        1. MK

          And by deciding to not give notice you may be making sure that those are the ones you end up with. It’s probably the professional ones who offer notice and deference that will consider your unprofessional behaviour a problem.

    2. The IT Manager

      When companies lay off, they are not afraid to burn bridges. Why should you?

      Because it’s your reputation, and if you get a bad one, it hurts you. The same goes for the company too. The ones that fired people ith 15 minutes notice get a bad rep which may impact their ability to keep good employees and hire good workers in the future.

      Burning a bridge is not bad because it’s bad; it’s bad because it can come back aand bite you.

    3. Sadsack

      I am afraid of burning bridges when I am the one who is looking for a job and would like to be able to use a former employer as a reference. Companies don’t have that problem. Answering, “What made you leave Company X with no notice?” with, “They can do it, why can’t I?” makes one sound like an unreasonable, antagonistic person.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Exactly. Even if you’re not using them as a reference, they may call the former company and ask about you and do you really want them to say, in effect, “Well, she told us where we could stick our notice and then walked the hell out!” Even if they’re assholes, it doesn’t make YOU look any better.

  16. Meg P

    I know this is slightly off topic, but I always push to be able to give two weeks notice AND take a week of vacation in between jobs. I know not everyone can afford it, but especially with new jobs where you may not be able to take any vacation for a while, take the opportunity to take some time off and recharge between jobs.

    1. Adam

      This is my standard practice if I can manage it as well, or at least given myself a few extra days off in between. I’ve changed jobs over the weekend and it can be a bit hair-raising.

    2. Zillah

      I agree – if it’s manageable, it can be really great, especially if you’re leaving a bad environment.

    3. Mike C.

      I like the extra time as well. There is a sort of peace you get from laying around the house in your PJs for a week that really gets me going for the next challenge.

  17. Anna H.

    I’m determined to never do this to another employer again but I did leave without notice once. One coworker said he understood and another did not. But I had to move to a new city, and frankly, looking for housing/changing banks/etc is a full time job. I also had a pretty hostile work environment, though I’m not sure it was the legal definition. My boss was sexist, racist and a downright bully. He had assaulted someone in the office and threw out another person who quit by sending security personnel after them. I mean, are there not ANY circumstances under which it’s okay?

    1. The IT Manager

      are there not ANY circumstances under which it’s okay?

      Yes. Your example sounds like text book case of it being okay. It’s just the LW didn’t mention anything to the extreme of fearing for her safety or the enviroment affecting her health in her letter.

    2. Mike C.

      Yet how do you explain that when you’re not supposed to say bad things about your previous employer?

      1. fposte

        What would you suggest? When you’ve hired, how have you dealt with employees who have left suddenly or have left bad jobs vs. employees with jobs behind them that are willing to speak to their strengths?

      2. Elizabeth West

        I don’t know if there is a way to do it under these circumstances. I’d flat out say something like, “There had been some antagonism in management for some time, and when this moved toward physical confrontations, I no longer felt safe in the workplace and chose to leave.” Then I’d follow up by saying something positive about it, like, “Despite the issues, I did learn a lot about teapot painting at this job, and I’m grateful for the chance to gain the experience.”

      3. I'm a Little Teapot

        I’ve explained in interviews about abusive former bosses and been hired. I said something like “Unfortunately, the last time he saw me was when I was subpoenaed to serve as a witness at his trial for assaulting my coworker, so I don’t think he would be able to provide a fair reference” or “I learned some important skills working there, but unfortunately I wasn’t being paid so I had to leave.”

  18. Alliej0516

    Give the 2 wks’ notice. Enjoy the Teflon-time (let everything slide off your back), schedule a doctor/dentist appt, use a sick day in the middle of it, you WILL get through it. HOWEVER. You do NOT have the new job yet. Ain’t no such thing as a sure thing. Keep the cork in the champagne bottle until you know for sure.

  19. Jo

    Toxic work environments and bad management can mess with your head and your judgment. OP, your impulse is understandable, but I hope it’s not too late for you to rethink this. Protect yourself by giving two weeks. Your new employer might understand where you’re coming from, and it sounds like other commenters have been similarly lucky, but you can’t predict what other potential future employers will think – and they might find out about it before you have a chance to explain your side. Unfortunately, we don’t have 100% control over what other people hear about us and what sources they might trust.

    You’ve made it this long. Two more weeks is worth insuring your professional reputation against future misunderstandings.

  20. insert pun here

    I am curious to hear if people feel the same way about “required” longer notice periods. For example, my employer “requires” (I mean, I think we all know this is really just a strongly worded request) a full month’s notice. Do people feel similarly that employees should be held to this longer notice period?

    1. Sarah Nicole

      I feel that no employer should “require” a longer notice period, but in some jobs it really makes sense. I have given 3 weeks’ notice at 2 jobs before and the employers were very grateful for it. (Ugh, and one of them made me want to walk out on a daily basis). If it’s a job where employees have a ton of autonomy on their projects and need to do lots of handing off, or if their space really needs to be filled to ease a transition, I see no problem with an employer requesting that they receive a month of notice. But they won’t always get it. It just depends on why someone is leaving, parameters of starting the new job, and how the company has treated them up to that point. I was more than happy to give one of my bosses so much notice because I was treated very well by her and the company. It didn’t bother me to ask for a later start date at my new employer.

      1. Zillah

        Yeah, I agree. There are definitely some professions where I think it’s reasonable to want more notice. My mother has actually expressed surprise over the idea of two weeks; she’s a teacher, and I think she said that in her experience, it’s generally common courtesy to give at least a month. That makes sense to me.

        1. blackcat

          In the world of private schools, we were asked, in *December* if we intended to return for the next year. Leaving with less notice was only considered okay when the teacher was someone the administration wanted gone but did not want the brouhaha of a firing (many times these were folks who had been at the school 10-20 years and had some parents/alumni who would pitch fits if they were actually fired).

          My experience was giving as much notice as I could. I was applying to PhD programs. I let them know a) that I was applying in November (my department chair wrote me a recommendation) and then b) when I was accepted to a program with full funding in January. I actively helped to choose my replacement–interviews were Feb-March and someone was hired in April. I met with her repeatedly to go over all of the quirks of the equipment (necessary in science).

          All of this makes some sense because the school would basically never fire someone mid year. One person did find out she was being fired when her department started to have meetings without her (about hiring her replacement), and that sucked. But basically, the extended notice period cut both ways–we had to give 6 months notice, but the school would give at least 4-5 months notice. I’m sure that there would be circumstances, such as gross misconduct, where a teacher would be let go more quickly, but I never saw it happen. (I also didn’t see gross misconduct happen). Doing things this way was in the best interest of the school, but it was also in the best interest of the students. And while I had coworkers who might have been happy to screw over the school’s administration, no one would screw over their students.

          There are some quirky industries where SUPER long notice is common, but I bet in the vast majority of these, it’s expected that the long notice cuts both ways.

    2. Mike C.

      Sorry, no business can just unilaterally rewrite state labor laws. If they don’t like it, then they need to create an environment where people can leave with that sort of notice.

      1. Zillah

        Huh? I don’t see anything suggesting that these hypothetical businesses were unilaterally rewriting labor laws, state or otherwise.

      2. fposte

        Agreed with Zillah–it sounds like you’re saying no employer can have policies that go beyond state law. They can’t *contradict* state law, but businesses are free to create policies that have dress codes, call in requirements, etc. that the state never gets into.

    3. Observer

      Legally, it’s almost impossible to hold an employee to this under most circumstances.

      Is it the “professional” thing to do? That depends on the industry and the particulars of the job.

    4. Al Lo

      At my organization, we encourage teachers (we’re a non-profit music organization that runs our programming on the school year) to tell us in March or so if they’re not returning the following year. There’s never been, as far as I’m aware, an instance of someone being pushed out earlier or feeling devalued because they’re not coming back — they maintain their full leadership and responsibility until the end of the season, and we get to plan for a smoother transition in a fairly specialized role. It helps, too, that most people who work here have a long history with the organization, truly care about giving their students the best experience possible, and genuinely like the rest of the team, so when people move on, it’s typically because life changes, not because they feel pushed out.

      It’s different for our admin team — the standard 2 weeks for office jobs is pretty acceptable, but even in those, most people do the courtesy of finding the least disruptive time in the organization’s season to leave (or if that’s not possible, they do tend to give longer notice).

    5. MissDisplaced

      Generally no, personally I don’t feel any notice is or should be “required” as most of us work in “at will” conditions. However, it really depends on your job and position and level of responsibilities. If you are an executive or one of the only people who can do your job within a company, yes a longer time would be needed to turnover work.

  21. A Nonny Mouse

    i’ve left two jobs in my life with no notice. one was when i was in college, and they were forcing me to work with a 104 degree fever and pneumonia in a RESTAURANT. it wasn’t healthy for me or the customers, so i just… left and never came back. felt no guilt about that one.

    the second one was back in september 2013, and it was again because of health reasons. i had planned on giving two weeks’ notice already because i had taken a new position, but my doctor advised me to quit immediately. i had been receiving treatment for bipolar disorder and anxiety, and every time i came in for a checkup, my blood pressure was dangerously high from the stress that job put me under. i was working until 1-2am on a nightly basis (which for someone with bipolar disorder is a dangerous idea), i was physically exhausted, the place was totally and completely disorganized, and my boss was… well, let’s just say there was a day i came in to a two-page long email about how i was wasting paper by not printing on both sides, and how she dug through my trash the night before and found yellow legal sheets in the trash instead of the recycle bin and i was being wasteful and she really needed me to start thinking about the environment more. i was told by my doctor that i absolutely could swing manic in two weeks’ time given how i was responding at that point and that it was in my best interest to leave and take two weeks’ vacation between that time and when i was starting my new job.

    i felt sort of bad about that one for a minute, but i had only been there for three months, and again, if it’s a choice between my mental health and a reference, i’m taking my mental health. turns out, i shouldn’t have felt bad. i got an email to my personal email address a day later, saying that she found it shocking that i could leave her in a lurch like this, and that “if i think good will come of this,” i should think about karma. when i didn’t respond to that, i got a second email saying how unkind i was given how much she trusted and cared about me, that i had lied to her when she had asked me if her business was “the right fit for me” and i had said yes while at the same time seeking another job, that she felt misled and slapped in the face, and that she would have sent me to law school if i had wanted (except i had already been OUT of law school for two years by that point…).

    at any rate, i don’t advocate NOT giving notice unless it is a risk to your health to stay there. otherwise, as alison said, you risk all sorts of things beyond your notice period… so keep that in mind when making your decision.

    1. Zillah

      That’s terrible and sounds really dangerous to your mental health. :( I’m glad you got out and got through it okay.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot

      Wow. Both those situations are really horrible. Good for you for having the courage to get straight out.

    3. Panda Bandit

      My current manager is like your second manager. If you stand up for yourself and leave you get labeled a brat or crazy because who wouldn’t want to do the work of multiple people for extremely low wages.

  22. Nerdling

    I agree with giving two weeks’ notice. It will leave your soon-to-be-former coworkers in less of a hole, because you’ll be able to help transition your work to them, and it won’t give your new employer a potentially bad impression. I’m assuming they know you’re currently employed. They know that the conventional wisdom is for leaving employees to give two weeks’ notice. So is you stating that you can start immediately — which clearly means that you’re not going to giving two weeks’ notice — going to have a positive or negative impact on how they see you, right out of the starting gate? It might not just be about burning bridges or keeping up your reputation at your old company; it could also be about starting off on the right foot at your new one.

  23. KAZ2Y5

    You need to also realize what that tells your new employers when you say “I can start next week!” Mainly that you might do it to them also.
    I had one former job where my boss was kind of different about his hiring practices. He would never check references because he said people only list people as references who will say good things, so what did it matter. But if he offered you a position and you said you could start the next week (or any time before 2 weeks) he might just pull the offer right then. His viewpoint was that if you would do it to your current employers, you probably would do it to him also. I found this out because I almost lost an assistant who wanted to start right away. She explained that she was working for a friend just until she could get back into the medical field and her friend knew that she was looking for a job and was ok with the short notice.
    Good luck! I hope you get the job offer!

  24. Helen

    Last month I quit a job that I had hated for a year and a half, and I gave two weeks notice. I was happy with my decision to do that. It’s easier to get through it when you know there’s an end date.

    That being said, I do regret giving notice to another job a few years prior. It truly wasn’t worth the grief of being there another two weeks. I only worked there two months, and the boss was extremely cruel, and the organization was so small that the only people who’d even know about it were him and a coworker who had recently been convicted of a felony for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from a charity for poor children. (Did I mention that this job was at a church?)

    1. I'm a Little Teapot

      Wow. Yeah, in that situation any concern for “professionalism” is a ship that’s long since sailed.

  25. Amber Rose

    Thing is, you can use that time. Get your coworkers used to not having you around. Assign tasks and clear your desk. Take no shit from anyone, what are they gonna do, fire you? Be professional but make it clear that you won’t be treated poorly.

    Funny story: I once quit with no notice, and actually didn’t quit. I just didn’t return, figuring in three days I’d be fired (I was too afraid to go back). I went in about two weeks later with a guilty conscience to turn in some stuff and I was still on the schedule. They never even realized I was gone. About a week later I got a voice mail asking if I was showing up for my shift. Although it’s impossible, I sometimes imagine I’m still on the schedule, years later, and laugh.

  26. Kelly L.

    I quit with less than two weeks’ notice twice. Once was in college; I had a job on campus and then a financial disaster happened that meant I needed to move home (several hours away) in one week. So I gave them what notice I could. They were really understanding about it.

    The other time was when I was telemarketing. We were supposed to do all communication with the managers by leaving a note in their inbox. So I wrote them a letter giving notice and put it in their inbox. The first week passed and they took everything from the inbox but that. I think they didn’t know what to do with it, and that almost nobody else there even bothered with notice, given the nature of the work. I didn’t really want to deal with them anymore anyway, and just didn’t show up for the second week. I knew I’d never put them on my resume anyway; it was just for a month or two and I was terrible at it.

    Both of these were many many years ago.

    I would recommend going ahead and giving notice. If your co-workers are all planning to flee this place too, there’s no reason they couldn’t end up at the next company you try to apply to, kwim?

  27. Co anon

    This sounds exactly like a situation occurring in a No. CO company I user to work for in Loveland, so I’m speaking up just in case. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Not one coworker will hate you for it (you could even tell them once you accept the new company’s offer) and your management is so crappy (an understatement), not only will they not care, but they will hardly notice.

  28. Gene

    Basically, going into the interview this week, I hope to be able to have an answer if asked “when can you start?

    The answer to that is simple, “Two weeks after we agree on employment terms” or “Two weeks after a written offer.”

  29. Amber

    The only time I didn’t give 2 weeks notice is after I joined the military and I was going to be leaving for basic training in 10 day so I quit the next day

  30. Chuchundra

    Here’s my best story about quitting without notice. I wrote it, but the story isn’t mine. It’s one related to me back in the day by a coworker I’ll refer to as Bob.

    Back in the day, Bob had a job working as a cook at a local eatery in the small seaside tourist spot. It was the summer and the joint was busy all the time, but especially on the weekends when it was jam packed. Now Bob’s a bit of a goof, but he’s smart and hard-working and this little restaurant was very lucky to have him. Good cooks are hard to come by and Bob gave up almost all of his nights and weekends that summer slinging hash for the man.

    Some of Bob’s friends weren’t so lucky. They had jobs as servers and buss boys and were generally easily replaced. Often they were let go for very minor infractions or because they “just weren’t working out”.

    The management had a particularly interesting way of letting staff go. In the kitchen was a schedule with all the workers’ names and their days and hours for the week. If the manager thought someone wasn’t working out, they’d go the schedule with a Sharpie and draw a thick, black line through the row with that person’s name. They wouldn’t call them and tell them that they’d done this. They wouldn’t take them aside and explain why they’d been let go. When you showed up for work, looked at the schedule and saw the black line through your name, that was when you’d find out the you were gone. If you came to work and started working without looking at the schedule, the manager would simply say, “Did you check the schedule?”.That was it.

    As you can expect, many people found this pretty upsetting. A lot of the workers were teenagers in high school or right out of high school and this was their first real job. One worker broke down and cried when she saw the black mark through her name. Management thought this was pretty amusing. I guess they figured that it kept people on their toes since nobody knew where the axe would fall next.

    Bob had finished his degree before the summer started and had been sending out resumes and going on interviews. As the summer drew to a close, he got an offer from one of our local big employers and accepted it. Since he had worked almost every weekend all summer, he figured he’d quit the restaurant job and enjoy a relaxing weekend with his girlfriend before he started his real job. So he went to the restaurant, looked at the schedule, took a marker, drew a black line through his name and left without saying a word.

    Friday night rolls around. Like I said, during the weekend the place was jam-packed with people and, since was the last weekend of the summer, it was even more busy than a regular Friday.

    Of course Bob isn’t there and the place is in chaos. The manager calls Bob at home and starts cursing him out.

    “Where the f-ck are you? Why aren’t you f-cking here? We’re f-cking swamped!”

    “I don’t know why you’re calling me. I don’t work there anymore.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Did you check the schedule?”

    The manager puts the phone down to go look.

    “Who put a line through your name? I didn’t do that.”

    “I did.”

    “You can’t do that!”

    “Sure I can.”, Bob says and hangs up the phone.

  31. Jules

    I’ve quit my job without the full notice before. I paid in lieu. The environment was very toxic and I was very open to the interviewer why I wanted to leave. They agreed to reimburse me my notice. That however was my first job out of school so I am guessing the my future boss thought, “Poor kid, we are in the middle of crazy and we need her now. Let’s do it.”
    Not everyone is as lucky. I do give notices from then on because I care about my reputation. How people treat me has nothing to do with me. I will not stoop that low. Good news is that what goes around comes around and eventually they all got what was coming to them. I didn’t need to the the avenging angel or anything. Just walk away.

  32. mary

    I am a assistant manager at my job and also 7 months pregnant and I want to leave desperately now. my manager ignores my restrictions and treats me horrible as of recently. I’ve been here 3 years will it still look bad if i just leave without notice even though it’s for my own health?

  33. Lisa

    I think giving two weeks doesn’t apply anymore. There are too many people still looking for jobs, and employers aren’t going to give you a two week notice if they decide to fire you. They aren’t obligated to give severance pay either. I have worked for verbally abusive employers here in the last several years and when I gave a two week notice I was treated worse or told to just go. You can’t control what an employer says as a reference whether you give the notice or not. Not every company has an HR department to make complaints about verbal abuse or discrimination and if something is affecting your health and happiness it’s better to just move on.

  34. Rockky

    So I want to retire but am feeling guilty as we are a very small company and I have been there almost 10 years. Recently the owners decided to put more stress on me by giving me more responsibilities and saying they would give me more money. I don’t want more money. I want less stress in my life. My whole career I been the person who forwards the phone when I leave work, work weekends when needed and really, I didn’t mind because I like to feel needed. But now I am at a point in my life where I just need rest and need to re-evaluate and now this guilt is stopping me from giving notice. Any ideas? I don’t want to have a part time job after I retire where they come to me for answers.

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