Handling an Employee who Gives 2 Weeks Notice (or No Notice)

Losing a quality employee is almost always a difficult and stressful situation. If one of your own team members has submitted their employee resignation, how do you manage the situation in a positive and productive way?


Read on to learn how to handle times when an employee gives you two weeks’ notice and how to deal with instances when they leave without giving any notice at all. With the right plan in place, you can cope with employee resignations the right way and ensure a smooth transition.


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Two weeks’ notice laws

Currently, there are no federal or state laws that require employees to give management an official written two weeks’ notice if and when they plan to resign. Some states have something entitled the “at-will doctrine.” This doctrine gives employers the right to terminate employees any time they choose without having to provide them with a reason. Alternatively, this doctrine also gives employees the right to leave their place of employment at any time, and it also allows them to do so without having to give a reason.


While there are no universal laws regarding employee resignation guidelines, there are a few basic requirements. Employers cannot fire someone based on their age, gender, race or other factors alone. States with the at-will doctrine make it easier for employees to quit and for employers to fire people whenever they see fit. Be aware that it cannot be based on legally protected characteristics alone.


Can you let someone go after they give notice? Technically, the answer is yes. In most cases, it’s entirely up to the employer to determine whether they want the person who is resigning to complete their final two weeks or whether they’d prefer to let them go right away. The best way to avoid conflict is to include clear rules regarding resignations in your written company policy. If you decide to ask someone to leave immediately, this is legal. Keep in mind that doing so may make the employee automatically eligible for unemployment in almost every state.


What if employees give one week’s notice? The answer is basically the same. You can choose to let them complete their final week or opt to ask them to leave immediately. Employee contracts may require workers to complete their final week or two weeks since they have signed a binding legal agreement. Consult an employment attorney to confirm that this stands if a contract applies to your situation.


What to do when you receive an employee resignation

When someone notifies you that they’re planning to resign, you can choose to make an official employee resignation announcement. This is a good way to prevent rumors or conflict, and it also encourages open communication among all of your other employees. You can make the announcement in a brief meeting, send an email or sit down with each member of your team privately to inform them of the resignation. The key is to inform everyone as soon as possible so that there are no surprises later.


To ensure a smooth transition, it’s a good idea to start assigning other employees to pick up the work until you find a replacement. If your employee plans to stay for the remaining two weeks, it’s also ideal if they can help train their replacement. If the employee is valued, use their talents and knowledge to your advantage by asking them to help with the new-hire training process. You should also attempt to conduct an exit interview if possible to help you gauge why a person is leaving and determine what you might be able to do in the future to improve the working conditions for other employees.


What to do if an employee gives no or minimal notice

If an employee leaves without giving you notice, it can be extremely stressful. What do you do when someone decides to quit their job unexpectedly? Here are some tips to help you handle the situation:

  • Find out if you’re able to make a counteroffer per your company policy. This is often an effective way to improve employee retention.
  • Inform your other employees about the resignation as soon as possible and reassure them so they are not worried about their own employment status.
  • Think about why the employee decided not to give notice. It could be as simple as them receiving a better job offer, or it may be due to problems in the workplace that you were not aware of. The more you know about why someone is leaving, the better opportunity you’ll have to make positive changes for the future.
  • Avoid being angry or vindictive when someone quits without notice. Remember that your HR department is responsible for a lot of paperwork and procedures any time someone quits, so try to be as supportive as possible throughout the process. You should also keep in mind that other employees will be left to pick up the slack until you find a replacement.

How can you prevent employees from quitting without giving notice in the future? This is an important question to ask, and it plays a big role in regard to your company’s morale and turnover rates. Perhaps it’s time to examine your company policy more closely and make some changes, or it could be time to revamp your employee review and pay raise structure. Whatever the reason, when someone quits without notice, it’s a prime opportunity for you to consider making positive changes for the future to lower the odds of it happening again.


Admin tasks

You should include some specific admin-related tasks in your employee resignation policy. For example, make sure that your HR department knows the proper procedures for paperwork and maintaining employee files. Assign administrative tasks to specific people in your company, such as the IT department. They can handle changing the employee’s passwords and making sure that important files and documents are saved and stored on the company server.


There should also be a checklist of company-owned equipment that the employee may have in their possession. Make sure that everything is returned to you before the employee leaves. Company-owned equipment can be anything from laptops and smartphones to company uniforms and access cards. It’s important to confirm that you receive all of these items back before the person departs.


Considerations to include in your company policy

You’re not required to have a specific policy regarding employee resignations, however, it’s a good idea to have some kind of guidelines in place. When you’re clear about your expectations regarding employees leaving, the transition will be much smoother for the person who resigns and for everyone else involved. Here are some things to consider when adding information regarding resignations to your company policy:

  • Ask and encourage (but don’t require) anyone who plans to resign to submit their intention in writing and to do so at least with two weeks’ notice or more. This will ensure that you receive adequate warning when someone plans to leave. It also allows some extra time to train a replacement and to reassign tasks to other employees.
  • Make sure that every employee has a signed list of company-owned equipment they received when they were hired and that they understand they’re required to return everything listed either on or before their last day of work.
  • If someone leaves without giving notice, you might not be required to pay them any remaining allotted vacation time or other benefits. Check with your state labor department or consult an attorney to confirm. Whatever the case, it’s important to make this clear upon hiring so that people are aware of your policy regarding this situation.
  • It’s up to you and your business, but you can include a clause that refuses a rescind of resignation. For example, if someone decides to quit but then changes their mind a week later, you can retain your right to refuse their ability to continue employment with the company once the two-week period has ended.
  • Create a clear set of guidelines for your human resources department when someone resigns. This should include information about processing paperwork, conducting exit interviews and anything else that pertains to handling firings or resignations.

It can be difficult when some of your most valued employees decide to leave. However, having some strategies and policies in place will ensure that everything goes smoothly. Consider adding some information in your company policy about employee resignation to keep this process as seamless and painless as possible.

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