In the November 1, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader tries to do the right thing by giving two weeks’ notice and loses two weeks’ pay.


get-outI have a new job, so I gave my two weeks’ notice to my employer. But my boss let me go the same day! He said, “I accept your resignation. And you’re gone immediately.”

I needed at least another week of work because I can’t afford two weeks off between jobs. Now I’m screwed. They gave me three hours that day and told me to leave. I’ve always given at least two weeks’ notice to be fair to my employer. Is it right that they did this to me after I did the right thing for them?

Nick’s Reply

Unfortunately, it’s not a question of right. For the employer, it’s a judgment call.

Here’s what your boss may be thinking:

  • Are you a liability or risk if you stay on another two weeks? In other words, will you be distracted and do lower-quality work?
  • Are you likely to “poison the well” and encourage other employees to think about leaving?
  • Or, is the manager just angry? Does he resent your “disloyalty” because you quit? Quitting a job doesn’t make one disloyal, but your manager’s ego might have gotten the best of him and caused trouble for you.

You never know how an employer is going to react. For some tips from my PDF book, Parting Company: How to leave your job, check this article: Protect Your Job – Don’t give notice when accepting a new job.

I think an employer is a dope to not take advantage of two weeks’ notice to help transition your work to another employee. But once you resign, your employer is not obligated to keep you on. There may even be a company policy about not letting employees who resign stick around.

While it’s a good thing to do right by your employer, this is why I tell people to consider their own interests first when quitting a job. If you think it’s risky, don’t give notice. This is just one issue when leaving a job. In the aforementioned book, I cover loads of other issues people never think about, including:

  • What you can and can’t take with you when you leave
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Compete Agreements
  • Legal liability
  • What to say and what not to say in a resignation letter or during an exit interview
  • How to submit your resignation to protect yourself
  • How to plan your departure
  • There’s even a checklist shared by my insider HR friends

Two weeks’ notice used to be a standard courtesy. Although some employers still expect it, in some places it’s a risk to offer it. People like you try to act ethically and with integrity, but leaving a job is a business and financial decision that nowadays is handled coldly by many companies. While I don’t advocate quitting without notice, I suggest that people get their ducks all in a row before they walk in to resign a job. Plan for the worst.

This article may be helpful as you consider any new job offer: Protect yourself from exploding job offers.

Sorry to hear you got hurt in the process. But congratulations on landing a new job!

Have you ever gotten burned for giving two weeks’ notice when quitting a job? If you’re a manager, would you walk an employee who quits out the door, or do you want the notice period?

: :

  1. It depends on the employee. If they are good, keep them through the notice. If not, get it covered and cut them loose.

    Many companies I’ve worked for, if someone gives a two week notice and you cut them loose sooner, you still get the pay through your notice date.

  2. The place I’m at now is pretty good about keeping you on for two weeks, for no other reason than it takes two or more weeks to find someone, run them past security and drug testing, etc.

    Some shops would get notice: You’d notice I was gone. Especially if you had to make good on a bounced paycheck of two, or stuck me with a toxic micro-manager.

  3. This happened to me once, too. You were treated unfairly. Be glad to be rid of this toxic environment. The boss’ boss may wonder who is getting your work done. This might be a lesson to others; make sure that you have a financial cushion, in case your old employer lets you go immediately.

    • Jim: That’s a good point about having a financial cushion. People tend to get so excited about a new job that they don’t consider the possible risks. One that we’ve encountered a lot here is rescinded job offers. A person quits the old job only to learn the new one has disappeared. And in this case, it’s a surprise two weeks without a paycheck.

      The lesson: Make sure you’ve got a cushion in case something goes wrong. Hopefully it won’t.

  4. I used to work at a place that seemed to do this with sales people. Almost without exception, when one of them resigned, it was out the door within a day or two, if not the same day. I never understood this. What happened to the customers who called in for that person? What about the prospects that took months to close? Why didn’t they give the sales person the chance to introduce customers/accounts to the person taking over? Ironically, the company handbook asked for 8 weeks notice.

    Said company is now about to be broken up and sold off in bankruptcy…….

    • Chris: Straight out the door is common practice when it comes to sales people. The employer worries they’ll steal customers or poison accounts during the notice period. This has always mystified me, because if a sales person is going to do either, they’ll plan ahead. The company really can’t stop either, unless it has a solid non-compete agreement in place that it’s willing to litigate.

    • I quit sales jobs twice. I offered two weeks, but it was declined (as I expected).

      These positions paid bonus/commission at the end of the month. Leaving immediately is in the best interest of the company 1) less payout to me 2) possibility for others to bump up their numbers as they divy up my leads.

    • They let them go because they do not want the employee communicating to customers that they are leaving; then there’s the potential of taking confidential inside information i.e. customer information with them

      • They could do this anyway, as Nick pointed out, simply by planning ahead.

  5. With the assumption you have another gig lined up, contact your new manager and see if they will start you two weeks early.

    I always make it a point during the interview process that if my two week’s notice is not accepted, I will be available to start sooner. In the cases where this has happened, my new employer was more than happy to have me on board sooner.

    • Yep – A new employer is often happy to have you start work sooner. But be careful how you announce this. A suspicious new employer might wonder, Did this person really have a job? Did they actually get fired rather than quit? What’s going on?

      You might call the new employer – after you’ve been shown the door by the old one – and ask, “If I can arrange to leave my old job sooner, would you like me to start sooner?” If the answer is yes, give it a day, then announce you’re ready to start work.

      I’m not suggesting you lie; just that you control the information so the new employer doesn’t get the wrong idea.

      • I set the tone of the conversation with my potential new employer like this:

        “I can start two weeks after I accept an offer. But I know in my business [does not matter what business], sometimes they prefer an immediate exit. If they choose to do that, I will be available sooner.”

  6. I’ve always wondered why this isn’t seen as a termination. Yes, the employee resigned, but they post-dated their resignation. The employee didn’t quit on that specific day, they informed their employer that they will quit in two weeks.
    If the employers says too-da-loo early, in my eyes the employer terminated the employee’s employment. In this case I’d hit up the local unemployment office and fight my case.
    It’s a long shot…but in my eyes not compensating the employee in place of serving out a two-week notice amounts to a simple termination.

    • Kev: This is a good point. SHRM offers this on its website:

      “employers should consider whether company policy requires employees to give two weeks’ notice. If so, an employee could rely on the policy to support a claim for the two weeks’ pay if the employer made the resignation effective immediately.”

      I think where it gets complicated is if you’re in an “employment at will” state. The real question is, will it affect your being able to get unemployment benefits. (I’m not a lawyer!)

      • Thank you! Here in Georgia, it’s a right-to-work state and I’d like to know if the person asking today’s question is in one, too, and/or what their company policy stated.
        Though it can be good to leave with a head held high and not fan a fire by responding to potentially unjust employer reaction to one’s resignation, a part of me would like to see the result of them fighting to get their rightful (if applicable) income.
        Was there not banked PTO?

        • Kevin, “right-to-work” has to do with unions. What it means is that if you’re in a right-to-work state and there are unions at your employer, you’re NOT required to join them or pay union dues although you benefit from the work the union does on your behalf.

          I didn’t read anything about unions in the LW’s question.

          • Marybeth, in NJ (another right-to-work state), unions are only part of the equation. The other part is that employers can fire anyone (without a contract) at any time, for any reason, or even no reason at all. Hence my earlier recommendation for a cash cushion to ease the potential income gap.

      • In most places, you’d be eligible for 2 weeks of UI, but many places also have a weeklong delay before you can file, and by then you’re spending a bunch of time and effort to get one week’s pay. Which, you can totally do! But many wouldn’t bother.

        • True, many won’t. Hopefully this week’s questioner will try since it seems money flow is tight.

        • I don’t know if the unemployment rules have changed (and it may vary from state to state as well), but anywhere I’ve worked in the past, if the employer terminated you after you’d submitted two weeks’ notice, you were automatically granted unemployment insurance, especially if the termination was without any complicating cause. If you had a two week income gap because of the early termination, you’d have the week of waiting (no unemployment compensation), then at least the one week of unemployment compensation. If your finances are exceptionally dire, it would be worth the trouble to file for at least that one week’s compensation. I’ve not had this happen in decades, but the last time it did the employer challeneged my claim and the unemployment people laughed them off and paid my claim. Just desserts!

    • I agree with your thinking.

    • Washington state pays unemployment on these type of terminations

  7. Depending on where you live, there may be labor and employment law requiring your angry ex-boss to pay you in lieu of notice of termination.

  8. In the pharma industry this is routine for upper level managers, especially in R&D, as they presume you will attempt to steal company secrets and bring them to competitors. You give notice, you get walked out that day, if not that minute.

    This is why it is common knowledge that BEFORE you give notice, you get everything personal out of your office, get all personal files off your company laptop and use your integrity whether you copy your contacts or emails or not. Because after the fact it won’t be possible.

    • Taking your stuff with you is more complex than it might seem. This is advice from one of my expert HR buddies, as it appears in “Parting Company: How to leave your job”:

      Don’t leave your personal stuff in your office. Upon termination or resignation, you may not be able to retrieve it easily. Some employers will lock you out and pack what they believe is yours and ship it to you later. (See “Get your stuff,” p. 46.)

      Tip: Don’t presume you have privacy at work. Think and plan ahead. What you consider private might actually belong to your employer. When you start your job, make it clear in writing what belongs to the company and what belongs to you.

  9. This is horrible treatment. You did the right thing giving notice. Make sure to tell anyone you know still there that your boss did this. He has burnished his reputation as a jerk.

    • NO, no, no, don’t poison the place you are leaving. Your reputation will never be the same again, and it will confirm what the managers feared, that you will drag down the former company’s morale. Someone may learn of it at the new job and this could taint how they see you as a new employee. Take the high road and chalk it up to experience.

      Always leave a job is the best possible way, so that you are still regarded as a valuable employee with integrity. It is better for your own mental health and future success.

      I knew someone who left after distributing a “flaming, burn the bridges” memo to all of the company’s employees. He showed the memo to me before sending and I strongly recommended, even begged, that he NOT do it. He didn’t listen, and to the best of my knowledge, he never was able to obtain a full-time job again in our city. Word gets around very quickly, as co-workers share with their spouses and friends in other companies. No company is willing to take a chance on an employee who made such a bad decision.

      • Tango: I agree that it’s never good to burn bridges. But in this case, I don’t think there’s anything the employee could do to make matters better. A boss who walks you out the door when you offer notice is likely to give you lousy references, too.

        In the example you offer, the employee is quite different from the one who submitted the question for this week’s column.

        If you fear your references, here are some tips to handle it:

        (This is from an old ATH column. The formatting is different from my columns today.)

  10. I’m sorry that you were treated so unfairly. One question I have is whether the new job is with a competitor, and you informed your boss as such. As a manager I’ve always made the decision based upon whether or not the person resigning was going to a competitor. If so, I did cut them loose the same day (albeit they would be paid for the next pay period, plus any unused vacation time, etc.)
    Also, whenever someone is resigning I recommend that they come prepared with a list of projects currently underway, with description of any outstanding items, recommendations for how/who to complete them etc. Once when I resigned just prior to the annual employee evaluation period, I made sure that I completed all of my employees’ evaluations along with the project description list. Doing so demonstrates to your manager that you want to part ways in a professional manner and mean no harm to the company.
    Having said that, I also recommend doing away with the two week notice, as you can never tell when the company will honor your attempt to do the right thing and reciprocate. I recommend that you wait until a couple of days before starting the new job before resigning from your current job, as first and foremost you must take care of yourself and your family. By all means do the things I describe above, but don’t leave your family’s well-being in the hands of a company or manager that doesn’t realize that how they treat departing employees will impact their desirability as a place to work. They bemoan that “we can’t find good talent”, oblivious to the fact that examples like this follow them like a plague.

    • Daniele: I admire your practical approach to this as a manager, and your realistic advice about giving notice. If someone gives notice, but you want them gone now, the right thing to do is pay for those two weeks. When a manager acts responsibly, departure usually goes well.

      I think you’ll enjoy this column I wrote for Adobe’s a few weeks ago – “Let your best talent go”:

  11. I once gave 2 weeks’ notice, and then the employer immediately informed me that I would be working part-time (20 hours per week) instead of full-time for the next 2 weeks. That was a surprise to me, but at least I earned part of my salary until I left for my new job and could help the employer find a new employee.

  12. Nick,
    I gave a month’s notice to the last job I left with no problems. I finished that job on Friday and started the new one on Monday. However, my take is, when you give notice, you are saying “I don’t work here anymore”. And as such, you may be treated that way by the employer.
    What do you think?

    • Tony: I think you’re right, but how it plays out depends on the employer and the employee.

  13. There is a huge variety in how firms react. In the jewelry industry the norm is same day (same hour) escorted exit. However, I resigned once and offered my boss two weeks notice, but expected immediate exit. She said “Please stay for two more months”, which I did. My situation was unique since as I was starting a new company overseas, and had a lot of flexibility.

    You never can tell, but protect yourself first.

    • Rick: How does the next employer react to having to wait two months for you to start work? This is a risk when giving notice that long — the new employer might get tired of waiting, even if it said it would. With all the stories we’ve recounted here about rescinded job offers, I’d be worried the new employer may find a better candidate in the meantime…

      • Nick, my situation was unique. I was emigrating to start a new company; I would be my own boss. Having an extra two months of salary before quitting was gravy. Besides, I loved my boss. I was emigrating to keep my wife happy.

        I agree, most employers would not want be be kept waiting two months.

  14. This is why you should have a six month emergency fund. It makes resigning so much easier. Don’t want to pay me for the last two weeks. Good for you. I’ll reciprocate by spreading the word about your true colors.

  15. I’ve always given minimum two weeks notice when leaving a job. Yet I did have one job where I gave notice in the morning and in the afternoon (after I came back from lunch) they wanted me to leave then and gave me the two weeks pay. I had no problem quickly clearing out my desk and handing over my projects to another worker. BUT it really does depend on the company.

  16. One interesting note … what does the company employee handbook or policy manual say about resignation? Many have a clause along the lines of “two week notice is requested” or “professional notice of resignation is expected.”

    Should this company have such a clause, then you effectively have a contract. They ask for some consideration (two week notice), and you honor the request. Ethics aside, there is a serious legal case to be made that they are required to pay you for the two weeks whether they keep you working or not.

    While I would not sue them over it, it is worth mentioning. Almost certainly, their lawyer will tell them to pay just to put the matter to bed.

    • Tom: I posted a link above to a SHRM article that confirms what you’re saying. Read the employer’s policy manual. If it requires notice, then you probably have a case. Thanks for pointing this out.

  17. I worked in the IT industry, mostly as a manager. I’ve always done the 2 weeks notice, and to my recollection gotten 2 weeks notices. I’ve not been walked, nor walked anyone on the spot. But it’s not uncommon in that industry, in a lot of cases, often for security, licensing or IP violations, areas where the industry is unforgiving.
    In my experience outside of that, if a manager walks someone on notice, they are either inexperienced and/or butt heads, therefore the departing person’s not surprised. And usually has paved the way with the next employer per Gregory’s point…they’ve set expectations they’ll be walked and can start immediately.
    I can’t recall someone’s departure poisoning the well. That’s a fear of insecure managers. A large bailout means the well is already poisoned & those there don’t need someone to leave to point it out.
    IT while huge, ironically due to subject matter areas of expertise is also a small world. Managers and non managers know there’s no gain in being unprofessional. Word gets around, and a good manager wants a good word to get around by those who choose to leave “I was treated well”
    A good manager should have enough of a trusted relationship with their team that those departing are willing to share where they are going and for what (I mean content, not pay, though that’s often shared too). If you can’t match that or do better in the near future, then the right thing to do is wish them well and do what you can ease their way. One of my 1st Manager’s left me with his ethic, one of a manager’s jobs is to help people grow, Not just in your company….Grow Because…again it’s a small world, and what goes round comes round.
    If you’re leaving your part is to make sure a hand off plan is in place, and if applicable, help identify the best replacement & hand off. I’ve left and offered help to my replacement & boss (within reason) after I’ve gone, and have had people do that for me.
    I have sat across from people whose loss would be painful, but in good conscience had to recognize they had an opportunity I couldn’t provide, offer them my good wishes, and any help I could provide, and give them a letter of recommendation on parting.
    And unfortunately I’ve had the opposite cases, whose performance or attitude was underwhelming, was not surprised by their departure. But I did not walk them to the door..I think you owe everyone their dignity.
    And never have I treated people as persona no grata. As you often see..As in “you’ve given notice, or you’re a contractor, so don’t bother coming to team meetings, company meetings etc.

    • Your point about helping out after you’re gone is something that poor managers overlook. I’ve had former employers contact me months after I’m gone asking a question about this or that. (“Hey, what was the name of the vendor you used to fix some equipment in a pinch?”, etc.) I have no problem taking a few minutes to jog my brain and try to provide an answer.

      And I’ve seen managers who treat people poorly when they leave (or were the reason said people left) try to contact said former people and wonder why they’re not texting back or answering emails.

  18. No good deed goes unpunished. Although this has never happened to me, I have seen it happen to others. A friend of mine rode his motorcycle to work on the day that he gave notice. They let him go immediately. He couldn’t carry a box of stuff on his motorcycle and they wouldn’t let him back in the building (it was a secure location). They promised to ship his personal things to his house, but it took several weeks and a few items that he had put in the box were missing when he finally received it.

    I always make sure that I have a couple of weeks of accrued vacation time before I resign a job, just in case. When it looks like I may soon have a job offer I start to delete anything personal that might be on my work computer and I slowly start bringing home some of my personal items.

    • Gina, a friend of mine worked for a company that had a “no lame duck managers or assistant managers” policy. In his case, he was planning to leave because he was going to begin law school, and wasn’t saying anything until the last minute. But he did tell his friends, and one of his friends told an acquaintance, who was dating someone who worked at the company, who then told my friend’s boss, who immediately informed him that his services were no longer wanted when he went in the next day. He’d planned on working for the remainder of the summer, and suddenly had more than two months of “free time”. And although he had vacation time and other time accrued, it was the company’s policy not to pay it if someone was let go because they violated the “no lame duck manager” policy.

      My friend’s practice area is employment law (both sides).

  19. As a manager, I find that most (but far from all) people are less than devoted in their final two weeks and some really are disruptive. In those cases, I quickly decide to have them leave sooner. At the same time, I ALWAYS pay through whatever that two-week period was. Anything less than that is just crappy.

  20. I have hard time to think of any good reason to walk the resigning employee out immediately – with or without pay.

    If employees are dishonest and want to take out (and misuse) confidential information, they have probably already done so before giving notice.

    If employees are unsatisfied about something inside the company, they have probably already discussed it with their colleagues before giving notice. Or if they haven’t – it’s always possible to meet those colleagues during free time and “poison the well” with even more poison when they’re unhappy how the resignation was managed.

    In my thinking, the last two weeks are valuable time for transferring the ongoing projects of the resigning employee to remaining employees, causing as little disruption to customers as possible.

    As a European, I am of course not very familiar with the U.S. employers’ mindset. Here the usual notice is four weeks rather than two, and I haven’t heard of anyone who’d been walked out immediately. It is rather common though that resigning employees take some of the remaining days as vacation (if they have vacation days left) and therefore spend only a part of the four weeks actually in the office.

  21. LW, I’m sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior isn’t uncommon. I’ve always thought it was retaliation or revenge or an immature, jerky manager doing this in a fit of pique, a “well, if you’re leaving, then I don’t want you so you can leave now” kind of thing. This happened to me when I was in college. It was only a part time job, but I’d found another part time job that paid better. I had a good relationship with my boss (or so I thought) and my co-workers, so I when I got the job offer, I gave my two weeks notice, and my boss called me after I got home and told me not to bother coming in anymore. If I didn’t want to work there, then she didn’t want me. I was shocked because, like this week’s LW, I was planning on working there for those two weeks and suddenly didn’t have that paycheck. It was a lousy retail job, nothing with IP or even the kind of high end sales that others here have noted are known for walking an employee who gives the courtesy of a two weeks notice to the door.

    At that job, I didn’t get PTO or vacation time, so there was no cushion, only what I’d managed to save.

    I think Nick’s advice is sound. In the future, pay attention to how others are treated when they quit. If they’re immediately shown the door, then there’s no need for you to extend the courtesy that will not be shown to you. I’m sure that when an employer decides to fire employees, it is effective immediately, there’s no two week notice or month’s notice.

    Re Tom J’s comment about checking out the employee handbook, I agree. Pay careful attention to the language. If the handbook reads “employees shall/must give two weeks notice”, then it is mandatory/obligatory. If the word is “may”, then it is optional.

    I don’t think that when you give notice it means you are no longer working there, especially if you give a two weeks notice. If I gave a two weeks notice today, I’m saying that my last day will November 15th (and many people even specifically state when their last day will be). That means I intend to work for another two weeks. Only after the 15th will I no longer be employed there. If the employer chooses to take advantage of my notice to allow me to wrap up projects, to train others, to do other transitional tasks, that’s great. If he’s pi$$ed because I dared to find a better job and takes it out on me, then that’s his prerogative. If it is company policy to do this, then you don’t give notice other than “today is my last day” because the end result is the same. And if you know that you’re planning to leave, start taking any personal items home because you might not be allowed to once you’ve given notice.

  22. I have let people go when they have given notice to avoid the poisoning of the well.
    In Washington State the people qualified for unemployment since they were available for work. And I effectively terminated them rather than them quitting.

    with the one week waiting period, he could at least recoup one week of pay

  23. @ Marybeth…How one’s manager reacts often unfortunately exemplifies an HR contradiction. If you’ve ever been laid off, particular in the mass downsizing variety, the SOP HR Mantra when you terminate someone caught in the net is “Do not take this personally etc etc.” Yet when one gives a 2 week notice you have these managers who go into Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde mode…and well take it personally. Usually though they only get to do that once, because everyone’s got their # and they can look forward to advance notice.

    I can add an anecdote about a terminating employee who was a pro to the end. I set up and ran a lab, which unfortunately ran its course leading to closure. People were bailing and also I had to let people go…except for a core group who would stick around to wrap up our project(s). (for which I arranged a stick around bonus). One of my engineer’s gave me notice. His last day was a Friday. We were working on a deadline driven closure plan (this is IT/Software Development stuff) & to hit it everyone was working horrendous amounts of OT. On his last day, he hung right in there til the wee hours of the morning pitching in. And it did help his former team mates..and me of course. Much appreciated.

    • Don, you beat me to it, but your thoughts mirror my own. I’ve often thought, so I’m not supposed to getting let go personally because “it’s just business”, but when I gave my employer the courtesy of a two-weeks notice, the manager behaved like a 2 year old being denied a toy or candy. And you’re right–having seen how managers behave when an employee gives notice (not just doesn’t show up, or walks in, says “I quit” and leaves) does put everyone else on notice. It isn’t just employees who might “poison the well”, but managers who behave badly. Everyone notices, talks, and then plans NOT to do what the employee who was respectful and courteous did.

      When I worked in insurance, our office was being closed down, with the jobs outsourced to first to Albany, then to India. The company bigwigs held a meeting, informed the staff, told us that the office would be closing in a year’s time. They’d host job fairs and other career-related programs and workshops to help those of us who wouldn’t or couldn’t move with our jobs to Albany. Anyone who wanted time off to go on interviews got generous time off, and help from managers. We had job fairs and other employers come to our site. Management hired people to help us write résumés and cover letters, to help us figure out next steps. As we were also training our Albany replacements, management hired masseuses (people were stressed), provided lunches, and more. As people left, those remaining picked up the slack and everyone helped with whatever was needed. Management also paid people who opted to stay through the transition more. There were no Mr Hydes; management was understanding and supportive, and to this day, though my former colleagues were upset that the site was closed, people still say it was good place to work, I think, in part because of how managers handled to closure.

      Businesses go belly-up; businesses outsource jobs or move to new locations. How people react depends upon how they’re treated. If treated fairly and honestly, moving on can be smooth. If one of the parties acts like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum, then they’ve shown their true colors to the remaining employees, who probably won’t give notice when they leave. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

  24. Having been in this position a couple of times, I wonder if labour law in the USA is different then labour law in Canada.
    To the best of my memory, after giving in my written notice, I was escorted to my desk, allowed to pack my stuff in a box and escorted out the door. A couple of days later I got a cheque for those two weeks that I would have worked.
    Why would the person be out of pocket? Generally, the employer is already in arrears with regards to pay, mostly by the amount of time of a pay period, typically two weeks.

    Are USA and Canada labour laws that different?

    • Yes, the laws are different. I don’t keep track, but periodically I encounter examples. Does anyone have examples to share, about how US and Canadian employment/labor laws are different?

  25. In Ontario, Canada the notice required by law (for most people, obviously not for people who have stolen from you etc) to let someone go depends on how long they have worked at the place of employment. Termination without notice requires termination pay in lieu of notice based on that length of tenure. The details are here:
    Labour and employment are provincial responsibilities so these schemes may vary by province.

    • Super, this lays it out very well. Pay in Lieu, that is exactly what I had been thinking of.

    • Here in Norway, the notification period by law is from two weeks to three months (!), depending on the lengt of the employment. This goes both ways, resigning and firing. There is no “fire at will”, companies need a reason to fire, but the reasons can be anything from bad behaviour/performance (must be documented), company operates in the red or needs to downsize to avoid getting into the red, change of strategy etc. The exceptions are if the employer and amployee mutually decides to cut the tie immediately, or if the employee is fired for gross misconduct, crime, theft etc.

      As an amployee, this gives you more safety in planning your life, and less vulnerability to moody managers and weird HR policy. But it also gives a sense of security to the employer: the employee is expected to stay after the notification,to wrap up projects and ensure duties are transferred to others. Because the notification period is (generelly) prefixed, it creates an atmosphere with less games and more trust.

      Because there is no “fire at will”, employees will (I believe) also be more candid and open with the employers; fewer employees su****g up until the day they just walk out the door.

      However, I find the three month period to be a bit long; I have twice been just muddling through while waiting to get out the door.

  26. “Plan for the worst” – I agree w/Nick. Unfortunately, it seems the current “business model” is characterized by paranoid and predatory behavior by employers. Wells Fargo is, yet again, in the news today about further predatory behavior toward unsuspecting customers. The new norm? We’ll see how long this goes on in the business sector.

  27. @Jim: “Right to work” and “At-will employment” are two different things. Right to work does involve unions, namely the right of employees to take advantage of all the benefits unions offer without being required to join them or to pay dues. At will employment is different–it means an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason, with some small exceptions made for members of a protected class (think race). Most employers today are savvy enough NOT to say they’ve fired an employee because he’s black. At will employment means an employee can quit for any reason or no reason.

    Here’s a link you might find useful:

  28. I resigned today and was in a position that was very close to the CEO of my company. I tried to resign last week and was basically told by my boss that I didn’t realize how good my current job was and he proceeded to lecture me on why I needed to stay (without giving me any kind of extra incentives to stay). To be honest though, it wasn’t about the money or title – I just wanted experience in a different work setting and had received a great offer.

    When I told them my final answer (that I am leaving) I was told that it wasn’t worth me staying around for two weeks and I should pack my stuff up ASAP and leave. I imagine that my boss was just angry and/or embarrassed. There are many aspects of my job that I was yet to document and no one else knew how to do it. I told him that I would be happy to document these before leaving but he told me not to bother. It is disappointing when employers decide that your decision is a personal attach on them.

    Luckily for me, the firm did give me pay until my notice period.