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Is It Ever Okay to Quit a Job Without Two Weeks' Notice?

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

There are many reasons why you might want to leave your job—better opportunity, family issues, or you are just burnt out. But regardless of the reason, it’s common courtesy to give two weeks' notice to your current employer. 

But there are some exceptions; this article covers eight reasons why you may not be able to provide two weeks’ notice before leaving.

Why Is Giving Two Weeks' Notice Important?

Unless you have an employment contract that specifies the conditions and terms for leaving the job, you probably fall under the category of "At-Will Employment." This means you are not legally required to give notice to your employer when you want to leave your job.

However, it is always better to stick it out for two weeks after you give your notice. For example, if you're just unhappy and want to take some time off, give two weeks' notice.

Two weeks' notice is important because:

  • You may be able to use your current employer for a reference later.

  • You avoid leaving other employees in the lurch.

  • You preserve the option to return to that company in the future.

  • You preserve your professional reputation—new employers may count leaving a job without notice against you.

8 Good Reasons to Quit Without Notice

Outside of normal circumstances, there are situations where quitting without notice is the right thing to do.

1. Unsafe Working Environment

If the conditions of your job or your employer are jeopardizing your safety, you are justified to leave without notice. Your well-being is essential, and your employer is responsible for providing safe working conditions.

If possible, give management a chance to remedy the unsafe conditions before quitting, but only if this is a reasonable and safe path for you.

2. A Personal Health Crisis

A personal health crisis is a valid reason to quit without two weeks' notice. If an injury or illness makes it hard or impossible for you to work, or if your doctor says it's critical that you rest, you must prioritize your health.

3. You're Asked to Do Unethical Things

If your employer asks that you do something illegal, unethical, or that violates your morals, you do not have to stay and give notice. If you are forced to choose between your integrity and the job, choose your integrity.

4. A Personal or Family Emergency

A real personal or family emergency is an acceptable reason for leaving a job abruptly. In this case, you may preserve a good relationship with your employer even though you had to leave suddenly.

Before quitting, check to see if you qualify for coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It allows you to take a leave of absence under specific circumstances.

5. Your Employer Ushers People Out of the Building When They Give Notice

Some employers are worried about proprietary information or habitually usher employees out of the building the minute they give notice. In this case, prepare to leave before you tell your employer so you have your belongings ready and your projects in good order for the next person.

6. The Company is Laying People Off

If your company is in the middle of layoffs, including in your department, they may be relieved when you quit. If you've found another position and can start immediately, your current company may appreciate saving two weeks' payroll.

7. You Are Underscheduled or Have Little to No Responsibilities

The most significant reason most employees should give two weeks' notice is it avoids leaving the employer in the lurch. You have time to pass your work on to coworkers or train someone new, your employer has time to look for a replacement, and you can get all your projects in order before leaving.

If you are not getting many hours, are a temporary hire, or have little to no responsibilities, you do not have to wait out the two weeks before leaving. If you find a better job, tell your employer in person so they take you off the schedule.

8. A Toxic Work Environment

A toxic work environment can come in many forms. Often, it involves being singled out for your gender, ethnicity, or other personal attributes.

If people are actively bullying or discriminating against you at work, you are in an unsafe environment. Stress makes you less productive. Over time, bullying and negativity will take a toll on your confidence and mental health. Don't put up with it.

If the company has channels to address these behaviors, do what you can before quitting. However, sometimes your supervisors are part of the bullying, or the toxic culture cannot be resolved. In that case, you can prioritize your mental well-being and leave without giving two weeks' notice.

There Are Reasons Not to Give Two Weeks' Notice

Giving two weeks' notice is important under normal circumstances. However, if you find yourself in one of the situations listed above or something similar, you don't have to give advance notice to quit. Future employers are likely to see your decision to leave in context and give you the benefit of the doubt moving forward.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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