How much notice should you give?

Question: We’re implementing a new policy: All personnel (secretaries/receptionists/admins, etc.) must give one month’s notice before leaving the company. If proper notice is not given, accrued sick leave/vacation (paid time off) is not paid out.

Office managers have to give two months’ notice. I don’t know where you would apply for a job and they would wait that long for you.

I’d like to hear what other companies’ policies are.

Thanks. — Kenda


That is a ridiculous amount of time to ask for notice . Like you said, no one is going to wait one month for a secretary/receptionist – and two months is totally out in left field. Your administrator sounds like a tyrant.

I have NEVER heard such a thing, who is WE that is implementing this process? This is very unfair to the employee and VERY selfish of the company you are employed at. I would suggest that if you haven’t been there too long, start looking for other employment elsewhere because after awhile it may be difficult to get out or look into the Labor Employment Relations.

Your company needs a reality check. It does not sound like a very nice place to work. If I were applying for a position with your company and new of this policy, I would not consider accepting a position there. We ask for the normal 2 weeks notice and expect nothing more.

Has your company spoken to the Labor Board or workforce commission in your area before implementing this new rule? Otherwise its a lawsuit waiting to happen on this. If my recollection is correct and depending on the State you live it may be required that you pay vacation, comptime and holiday pay even if the person does not give any notice. The only exception would be the sick time because an employer does not have to pay for sick time even if notice was given and again this depends on the state you live in.

I would check with your labor board and see if you are obligated to sign anything agreeing to this. Usually managers and your sales force sign contracts or non-compete agreements, not all employees. It looks like your company is very unfair to their employees and only care about covering their own bases.

You might want to look at this site. It has some interesting information for at-will employees.

I would think that anyone giving 2 weeks notice is giving a courtesy to the company. I wouldn’t think someone could obligate you to give a month. That is a lot of time for a new job to “wait” for you to start. Your company really should look more into that policy. Most employees are ready to leave when they give notice and keeping an employee is a waste of your time and theirs.

Everyone in your company need to get a LAWYER, real quick!!

I work for a social service non-profit agency where we are also required to give a months notice for terminating our employment. However, while updating our policy’s we were told by an attorney on our board that we could not withhold payment of unused vacation time if the months notice was not met.
cak – chardon oh

One, what is the consequence if someone only gives 2 weeks? If that person has no accrued leave, you wouldn’t be penalizing them.

Two, if turnover is such a concern, then a more proactive approach would be a better answer. Why is everyone leaving? Make the place a better place to work. Invest in your employees. Turnover is very expensive.

Another idea, is to have an SOP book for each position. All of the standard operating procedures would be listed for each position, that way if someone left you would have a “how-to” to do a great portion of their job. Where does this person order office supplies? What are the deadlines each month for this month? What does the person need to accomplish to meet those deadlines?

I agree that this is unreasonable and perhaps not even legal. Check with your state labor department. By the way, if they require a month’s notice if you want to leave, does it work the other way? Do THEY have to give you a month’s notice when they lay you off? Or, if they don’t want you hanging around, do they pay you the equivalent of a month’s pay? Turnabout is fair play!

Different states have different laws about the payment of PTO and accrued vacation. Some states such as California consider accrued time to be compensation, which must be paid when the employee leaves.

What may happen is that anyone planning to leave will start to take their PTO and vacation days before giving their notice. You may even start to have employees go on vacation and not return. Be prepared for the lawsuits that will ensure when employees don’t get paid what is considered part of their compensation.

Here’s what our Human Resources folks say:

“This is unreasonable. The ‘standard’ expected notice is 2 weeks. However, it’s up to the company’s policy whether or not they pay out vacation and sick leave. In the State of Washington, it’s not required that they pay out vacation and sick leave, as it’s not considered wages, unless the company has a contract or policy that says it will pay for unused vacation. Other states may have different regulations about payouts though. Sounds to me like this company is just trying to avoid paying anything out!”

At our company, we pay out vacation leave (but not sick leave) when an employee quits. We don’t have any restrictions regarding employees giving notice, since nearly all of our employees are “at will” employees.

I believe that it is not legal to enforce the 1 month/ 2 month notice. If someone gave a 2 week notice, fine maybe you are not required to pay any time owed (i.e. vaca etc.) but what are supposed to do, you cannot make them stay. On the flip side depending on the company, your job title and years of service for some positions it is only a courtesy to give a 1-2 month notice. The position I am in currently at my company is in administration and I have been here for 5 years, I would not think of giving anything less then a 3 month notice. If you have had a good relationship with the company and respect each other to do anything less would be ‘burning your bridges’. And I would think if you were that depended on that you are required to give a 2 month notice then the company who hired you would respect that and would think you would then do the same for them if things did not work out. I don’t think receptionist should have to give any more then the standards 2 weeks, they are more replaceable then management.

I would check with your state labor board to see if their policies are applicable to your company (there may be some exemptions for nonprofit or other “special” organizations). Most states have this info on their websites, so it should be easy to find. Then I would print a copy of this policy and give it to your HR Department, or I would e-mail the link to the appropriate people with a little note to let them know that the new policies could be in violation of state labor law. Generally, the standard, as a courtesy, is 2 weeks notice; however, in at-will employment states, if they can get rid of you without notice, you are not required to give notice yourself. You might consider looking for employment elsewhere; a company that refuses to meet their obligation to departing employees might refuse to meet other obligations to those who choose to stay.

Thank you everyone for your input! I printed and discussed with my office manager.


That is a ridiculous expectancy of folks. Maybe about 20 years ago, it would not seem so. That was the days when the company was loyal to the employee and the employee was loyal in return. The norm was to start working for a company and retire from that same company too. But this has changed considerably in the last 15 or 20 years.
In today’s business world, the turn over in jobs is constant. You need to consider the fact that these days someone giving a two week notice is very reasonable and customary no matter what job position they hold. Also something to consider, if the company was going to terminate you, more than likely they would not give you any notice whatsoever.