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Coast Employment Law
Serving Employees and Employers in Southern California 714-551-9930 Free Confidential Consultation

Are Two-Week Notice Letters Required in California?

terminated and leaving job

From a legal standpoint, there is no requirement that employees in California must give an employer a two-week notice before leaving a job. This is because California is classified as an “at-will” employment state. As an at-will employment state, employees can terminate their relationship with an employer whenever they choose, without needing to give notice first.

Still, just because Californians do not need to give notice before quitting, that doesn’t mean that employees should always just get up and leave. Let’s go over your rights and options when it comes to your employer and the best way to part ways with them.

“At-will” Employment vs Contractual Employment

States that observe at-will employment regulations allow employers to terminate an employee at any moment for any reason so long as it is not an illegal one (e.g., unlawful discrimination, retaliation for exercising protected rights, engaging in concerted activity, etc.). Conversely, employees are also allowed to leave an employer without providing advance notice. Throughout the nation, it is professionally accepted to give an employer a two-week notice, however. This allows your employer to have adequate time to find a suitable replacement for your position.

Employees will often exercise their right to leave an employer without notice if they experience any of the following:

  • Harassment by a co-worker or supervisor
  • Bullying
  • A hostile work environment
  • Age discrimination
  • Race discrimination

If an individual leaves their employer because of a reason that violates California law, their departure might constitute what is known as a “constructive discharge.” In this instance, working with a knowledgeable employment lawyer may help you recover damages like lost wages. It’s important to explore your options with an experienced employment law attorney who understands your case.

Although California law adheres to the concept of at-will employment, there are instances when at-will employment does not apply. For example, under contractual employment agreements, employees may be required to give advance notice before they leave a job. Additionally, there may be stricter guidelines an employer needs to follow before they terminate an employee. Public employees and employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are also not at-will employees, although this fact limits an employer on the grounds for terminating an employee more than it limits the ability of an employee to voluntarily terminate employment.

Why You Should Give Your Employer a Two-Week Notice

While not all Californians are required to provide advance notice before leaving an employer, there are plenty of circumstances where they should. No matter the industry you work in, it’s good professional practice to provide an employee with advance notice.

Let’s go over some of the main reasons why providing a two-week notice can serve you both in the short term and long term.

Avoid Burning Bridges

Providing an employer with notice of your leave can help you maintain the relationships you’ve built with your employer and other co-workers. Leaving your job with these relationships intact may benefit you in the future as you advance through your career.

Get a Letter of Recommendation

The primary benefit of leaving a job with adequate notice is being able to obtain a reference letter that you can use toward a new job. Having a recommendation letter or listing your employer as a reference on your résumé can help you land a new and hopefully better job than the one you had before. Understandably so, not providing adequate notice to your employer puts them in a bind, making them less likely to give you a letter of recommendation.
Set a Good Impression With Your Future Employer
Future employers will look at your past employment history to determine if you would be a good fit with their company. If you left a previous job without giving the employer adequate notice and didn’t have a good reason for doing so, this may make employers hesitant to hire you.

While providing adequate notice is not legally required, it does set a precedent for what type of employee you are. Employers are more likely to hire employees who have proven to be team players in their past employment history.

Prompt Payment

From a legal standpoint, in California, if you don’t give advance notice that you’re going to resign, your employer will have up to 72 hours to make your last wage payment available. However, if you do provide advance notice, your employer has to make payment of your financial wages available by your last date of employment. For some employees, this practical aspect of notice can be an important one.

When to Seek Legal Guidance

If you have been terminated from your job or are forced to leave without notice, seeking legal guidance may be an option you’ll want to explore. Working with experienced labor and employment lawyers like the team at Coast Employment Law allows you to better understand your options and rights if you have concerns about your employment. Contact us today to get a free consultation on your case.

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