Employee turnover is common in nearly every field of employment. When employees decide to leave one job and move on to the next, the question often arises regarding whether they are legally required to provide their employer two weeks' notice. The answer is no.
There is no law requiring notice.
There are no federal or state laws, in Alabama, which require an employee to provide two weeks' notice to his or her employer before quitting. Alabama, like most states, has adopted the at-will employment doctrine, which gives an employer the right to terminate an employee at any time, without cause or any reason. The same goes for employees, who are also allowed to leave their employment at any time and without a reason.
Can my employer penalize me for not giving notice?
Although there is no legal requirement to give notice, there are some employers who have included the requirement in their company policies. An employee would not necessarily be required to follow that policy. However, some employers may still penalize employees, as long as it is permissible under the law. For instance, some employers include in their policies that, if two weeks' notice is not given, the employee will forfeit their accrued vacation leave or other benefits.
On the other hand, some employers approach the issue a different way, such as encouraging employees to give notice by offering severance pay, if they do. But remember, an employer is not required to accept your two weeks' notice, either. Which means, upon giving your notice, your employer has the legal right to terminate your employment immediately.
What about employment contracts?
An employment contract, in Alabama, would be considered an exception to the "at-will" employment doctrine. If you have a valid employment contract, you would be required to follow whatever procedures are included in that contract, regarding terminating employment. So, if the terms within the contract require two weeks' notice, the employee is legally required to give that notice, or risk being in breach of the contract. There may be circumstances when the employer and employee mutually agree to modify or disregard any notice requirements, however. Typically, such a modification would need to be in writing.
Why should I give two weeks' notice?
From an employee's perspective, giving an employer two weeks' notice is simply an act of courtesy. It allows the employer to find a replacement, and it allows for a smoother transition. Giving notice may also help preserve a professional relationship between the employer and the former employee. Sometimes, although not required, the act of courtesy is rewarded with a positive employer recommendation in the future. In addition, it encourages a positive professional relationship, which may leave the door open for future employment if the employer chooses.
Giving an employer two weeks' notice before quitting is really a matter of choice in most cases. It can be seen as a professional way of terminating an employment relationship that could possibly have a positive future result.
If you questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.