Most workers in the United States are at-will employees. In an at-will employment situation, your employer can fire you at any time and for nearly any reason. Similarly, you are also free to quit your job at any time and for any reason.
Verify That You Are an At-Will Employee
In all states except Montana, you are presumed to be an at-will employee unless your situation fits an exception to that rule. According to the law in Montana, once you have successfully completed your first six months on the job, you are no longer an at-will employee.
In that case, or if you signed an employment contract in Montana or in any other state, you must give notice and abide by the terms of the contract.
Give Notice If Possible
Sometimes employees feel forced to quit their jobs because of legal, safety, or moral concerns. If staying even one more day seems out of the question, you have the right to quit without notice if you are an at-will employee. You do not need to give a reason for quitting or make any type of explanation.
On the other hand, giving your employer two weeks' notice allows your employer to begin the process of hiring your replacement before you leave. If you extend this courtesy, your current employer is more likely to provide a favorable recommendation when you apply for another job.
Respect Your Employer's Property
Whether you are an at-will employee or an employee with an employment contract, always try to leave on good terms with your employer. Avoid updating your resume or searching for a new job on your work computer.
Don't take office supplies, business records, client information, or any other property belonging to your employer. If you're not sure if something belongs to you or to your employer, check your employee handbook or ask someone in the human resources department.
Make Sure You Get Your Last Paycheck
You are entitled to be paid for the time you worked. If you quit without notice, though, your employer is not required by federal law to cut a paycheck for you that day. Some states, however, require that the final paycheck be paid immediately.
If your employer doesn't pay you that same day, you should be paid on the next regular payday. If your employer does not pay you on that date, you may file a complaint with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division or the state labor department.
An Employment Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding employment law is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an employment law lawyer.