Can a Company Fire You After You Give Notice?

Be prepared to be ready to leave after you give notice. Image Copyright Jamie Grill / Getty Images

I'm often asked about what can happen after you give two weeks notice to an employer. Employees wonder if the company is obligated to keep them on the payroll for the duration of their employment. Knowing this information will help you make an informed decision about whether or not to give notice, and what to do before you give your two weeks notice.

When a Company Can Fire You After You Give Notice

In most cases, an employer can fire you or stop paying you after you give notice.

That's because most employees are considered employed at will, which means that the company can terminate you at any time for no reason.

Workers with employment contracts or covered by union agreements are generally protected in this situation, as are employees who have been discriminated against. Some state laws include exceptions to at-will employment policies, as well. Here is a list of exceptions to employment at will.

Sometimes, companies will say that you are no longer needed after the date when you submit your resignation. Typically, they will pay for the time when you would have been working, but they aren't obligated to.

Company Policy Regarding Termination and Resignation

In most cases, employers will honor the notice you give them because of concerns about the company's reputation with current and prospective employees. Employers are also cautious about antagonizing departing employees who might retaliate by sharing proprietary information with their competitors.

In addition, employers often want to keep the services provided by departing workers in place as long as possible to avoid disruptions or burdens to other staff. The two weeks of notice gives employers time to start interviewing replacements, find out the details on any ongoing projects, and transition work over to other employees temporarily.

Check your company's employee handbook for policies about giving notice. Most organizations will honor the stipulations laid out in the manual.

Be Prepared to Leave

Even though you will most likely not be fired, you should be prepared to leave the premises immediately once you give notice. While most employers will permit you to go back to your desk, and clear your computer and pack your things, they are not obligated to do so. There is a possibility that you will be escorted out of the building without a stop back at your desk.

So be sure to remove any personal email or documents from your work computer prior to resigning. Clear your browser history, and remove any stored passwords. Do the same thing for any mobile device or tablet that you have through work, and be prepared to hand it over on the spot.

Keep copies of any materials which you might include in your portfolio or which might be useful in future jobs, since your computer access might be cut off right away. Make sure you have contact information for any co-workers or clients you want to keep in touch with, and pack up any precious personal items, such as photos.

Should You Skip Giving Notice?

Giving two weeks notice is the standard practice, and in most cases, providing it helps to ensure a good relationship with an employer.

However, there are some good reasons to skip giving notice.

If it's typical for your employer to ask people to leave immediately, and not pay for the two week period, you could wind up in a tough financial situation. Under these circumstances, you might want to quit without notice. Before taking this step, consider if you will ever want to use this employer as a reference, since this could reflect negatively on you and prevent you from using a manager or co-workers as a reference.

Have a Question?

Check out these answers to the most frequently asked questions about termination from employment, including reasons for getting fired, employee rights when you have been terminated, collecting unemployment, wrongful termination, saying goodbye to co-workers and more.

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