Reasons Not To Give Two Weeks' Notice

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There are plenty of good reasons to quit your job. In a perfect world, you’d always quit one position because another, better opportunity appeared. Here in the real world, sometimes the decision to move on will be motivated less by exciting new horizons and more by wanting to escape a job you can't stand.

When that happens, the first question on many people’s minds is, “Do I have to give two weeks’ notice?” The next question is, “What happens if I can’t—or don’t want to—provide notice?” The answer is that it depends. In many cases, you aren't obligated to provide notice when you quit a job. However, if you're covered by an employment agreement it may stipulate how much notice you are expected to give.

Review information on when you can quit without notice, how to decide whether to resign immediately or to provide notice, reasons not to provide two weeks' notice, and how to tell your manager that you're moving on.

  • Most U.S. states have at-will employment, which means that an employee can resign without notice and for no stated cause. However, there are some exceptions. 
  • For employees covered by an employment contract, the contract may stipulate how much notice you are expected to give.
  • There are some circumstances when it may be advisable for an employee to resign immediately without providing notice. 
  • Even if you're not giving prior notice, there are ways to resign professionally and gracefully.

Can You Quit Without Notice?

Can you quit a job without notice? For many U.S. employees, the answer is, “Yes.” But that doesn’t mean that it’s wise to leave in a hurry.


Under normal circumstances, it’s best to give the standard notice—but there may be no legal reason why you can’t quit on the spot.

At-Will Employment. The vast majority of states in the U.S. have at-will employment, with some exceptions, which means that either the employer or the employee can sever the relationship with no notice and for no stated cause. This means that your boss cannot prevent you from walking out the door without giving two weeks’ notice, even if the employee handbook says that this is the standard for the company.

When You Have a Contract. If your employment is covered by an employment agreement, the terms of that contract may apply unless you are leaving for good cause. Your employment contract may also require you to forfeit benefits like unused vacation leave if you don't provide sufficient notice.

How To Decide When to Resign

Why is it best to give notice, given that you likely have no legal obligation to do so? Even during difficult employment situations, you may find these factors to be compelling reasons to give standard notice:

Maintaining your relationship with the employer. Even if you have no intention of ever working for this employer again, it makes sense to avoid burning your bridges. You never know when a manager from a previous employer might be contacted, so it is wise to leave on the best possible terms.

Getting references. Resigning without notice can impact your future employment options if a prospective employer checks your references and is told that you quit without notice. Think about it from an employer’s perspective: would you want to hire someone who might leave you hanging?

Possible financial repercussions. While there’s likely nothing stopping an employer from cutting short your notice period if you're an at-will employee, many employers will be happy to let you finish your two weeks. Not only does this provide you with two additional weeks of pay, but it also gives you time to line up other employment, if you haven’t already done so.

Eligibility for unemployment benefits. Quitting a job can impact your eligibility to collect unemployment benefits. In most cases, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own to collect unemployment compensation. Depending on your reason for leaving, you may not qualify for benefits unless you can prove you resigned for good cause.


Depending on the nature of your job, you may also have to pay penalties if you leave abruptly.

If you’re a contract worker, for example, and you leave before your contract is up, you might find yourself paying penalties.

Should You Quit Without Notice?

Should you quit without giving notice? Employees who are working under very difficult circumstances, or have just started a job and know it isn't going to work out, often aren't sure what to do. Generally speaking, if you want to quit, the answer is to give notice and then tough it out for two weeks. Of course, there are always exceptions.

When you have considered all the reasons that staying might make sense and find that none of them apply, it's time to consider the timing of your departure. Should you stick it out for another couple of weeks, or are there occasions when you can give less than two weeks’ notice or no notice at all?

Reasons Not To Give Two Weeks’ Notice

There may be some circumstances where leaving sooner might be advisable, including the following:

  • An employee has been physically abusive.
  • A supervisor has sexually harassed you.
  • The work environment is hostile or otherwise unsafe, or it is unsafe to carry out your assigned responsibilities.
  • Your mental health is being seriously endangered by job stress.
  • You have not been paid the agreed-upon wage or wages have been withheld for an unreasonable length of time.
  • You have been asked to do something clearly unethical or illegal.
  • Personal or family circumstances are such that you need to leave the job.
  • A crisis has happened in your life, and there is no way you can continue the job.

Before You Quit Your Job

Talk to HR. In most cases, it will make sense to contact the human resources department or management officials not directly involved with your grievance to discuss your situation. HR might be able to help you explore possible remedies or accommodations prior to your giving notice.

Find support. In some cases, it will also make sense to consult a counselor or therapist to help you cope with job stress. Regardless, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a support system—friends, family, etc.—in place before you make a change.

Make a financial plan. Keep in mind that the company can't force you to stay. However, if you quit a job without good cause you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

How To Quit Your Job

Even if you're not giving much or any advance notice, there are ways to resign gracefully.

Talk to Your Manager

A conversation is always best, but if it's not possible to discuss your resignation with your supervisor in person, you can use a phone call or email message to resign.

Resignation Email Sample

Subject: Jameis Cummings - Resignation 

Dear Ms. Tannenbaum,

I regret to inform you that I am resigning from my position as a customer success technician for McTeague Enterprises, effective immediately. 

I apologize for not being able to provide two weeks’ notice, but unfortunately it will be necessary for me to leave right away. 

Thank you so much for the time I’ve spent at this job. McTeague Enterprises continues to be an excellent and supportive company, and I regret that I need to move on.


Jameis Cummings

Be Professional

Even if you are leaving under difficult circumstances, leave as politely and as gracefully as you can. There's no point in making a challenging situation more difficult.

Be sure to return any company equipment before you leave, but make sure you have cleared any files or personal information from your work devices.

Help When You Can

Even if you can’t stay for a whole two weeks, do what you can to leave on a positive note. This might mean offering an update to supervisors or team members on the state of your projects, or making yourself available for questions after your departure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are you eligible to receive unemployment benefits if you quit a job?

If you quit your job voluntarily, you may not be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. However, there are exceptions, and if you quit for what is known as “good cause,” you may qualify. Check with your state department of labor for eligibility requirements in your location.

When is it acceptable not to provide notice to an employer?

If you're in a toxic work environment, have personal or family circumstances that require you to leave your job right away, or have other circumstances where you need to move on immediately, you may not be able or expected to provide notice.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. "At-Will Employment - Overview."

  2. FindLaw. "Pros and Cons of Written Employee Contracts."

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?"

  4. U.S. Department of Labor. "Benefit Denials."

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