An overworked, unhappy employee finally hits the breaking point. He walks straight into the boss’s office to declare “I quit!” He packs his things and strolls confidently out the door.
This scene is depicted often in movies and TV shows. If you’ve ever hated your job, you’ve probably dreamed of quitting on the spot. However, quitting without notice can leave a black mark on your record that can haunt you for years down the road. How do you decide between what’s right and what’s right for you?
The general rule is to give two weeks’ notice to an employer before you quit. It’s a courtesy that allows the company some time to transition your job duties. Quitting the same day, however, leaves many businesses in a jam, especially if you work for a smaller company. It will be difficult for your colleagues to feel happy for you when they have to work overtime to cover the tasks you’re no longer completing.
That being said, the working world is changing. Employee and employer loyalty is waning in many industries, plus most states allow termination of employment by either party at any time. That means there’s no legal requirement for you or your employer to give notice when dissolving a working relationship.
Is it OK then to quit without notice? I would say yes, under some circumstances. As a best practice, I recommend trying to give some notice before you depart. But if you experience any of the situations below, trust your gut and feel good about quitting on the spot.
Going to a competitor
Many companies have strict policies that employees going to work for competitors must quit immediately. If this is the case, the procedure is usually well known, and therefore quitting same day is OK.
If you’re being harassed, discriminated against or your safety is at risk, there’s no need to give notice. Your security is more important. Leave immediately and file the appropriate complaints.
If you notice illegal practices at your place of work, do not give notice. You could be an accessory to the crime if uncovered. Two weeks is not worth potential jail time.
If your work environment if so toxic that it’s effecting your mental health, bring up concerns with your supervisor and HR. If nothing changes, quitting on the spot to protect your well-being is appropriate.
If you’re unsure your employer will allow you to work through your notice period, but you need the money to make ends meet, you may have to give a shorter notice or no notice at all to ensure you get the necessary funds. Alternatively, ask your future employer if your start date can be flexible based on whether your current employer has you work the two weeks or not.
Finally, before you quit same day, check the employee handbook to see if you’ll be sacrificing any benefits such as vacation time, sick time, severance or reimbursement expenses. If this is the case, it might make sense to give adequate notice.