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Is It Illegal to Quit a Job Without Notice?

Quitting a job without notice might sound mean and selfish, but is it possible for an employee to quit without giving his or her boss a heads-up in advance?

Whether you are required or not to give a one-month or two-week notice before quitting depends on the nature of the employment agreement.

Requirements differ for an employee under an employment contract from one with none.

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We are going to answer a few questions relating to the subject. Our main focus will be on the following:

  • Is it illegal to quit a job without notice?
  • 9 best excuses to quit a job without notice
  • 5 likely consequences of quitting without notice
  • 4 reasons why you shouldn’t quit without notice

Let’s begin, shall we?

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Is it illegal to quit a job without notice?

No, it is not illegal to quit a job without notice in the United States unless you work under an employment contract. This is because most workers perform their employee roles “at will” rather than through employment contracts. You are, however, required to give notice if you’re under a contract or else your resignation will be in breach of the terms of your employment contract.

It’s imperative to note that if you work without an employment contract, your employer can fire you without any notice too.

In the UK, employees are often required to give notice to their employers before quitting their jobs. In case the employment contract does not state your notice period, it is only fair to give at least one week’s notice to your employer.

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In Australia, it is not illegal to quit a job without notice. Unfortunately, there are consequences you could face for quitting without notice such as your employer withholding your wages for resigning without giving notice.

As you can see, the requirement to give a notice or not largely depends on the nature of the employment agreement. An employee under a contract should give notice but those working “at will” are not mandated by any law to do so.

Best excuses to quit a job without notice

Best excuse to quit a job without notice

There are instances when quitting a job without giving notice is the best thing to do. Here are a few reasons to help you out:

1. You found a better job

One genuine excuse to quit a job without notice is if you found a better job where you’re required to start right away. If your current boss hasn’t given you a genuine reason to continue for the rest of the month then why not quit? However, make sure you have confirmed the new job before quitting and make sure your workspace is neat before you leave.

2. The company doesn’t value you

If the company does not value its employees, has poor salaries and regularly lays off people to save on wages, why should you bother with giving notice if you’re not under any contract? It’s better to work for a company that values its employees and doesn’t lay off people for the sake of balancing their accounts.

3. Major conflict with your boss

If there’s a major conflict between you and your boss and you have the feeling he/she has started a “paper trail” to find a justifiable reason to fire you, do not give him/her the joy of firing you. They already want you out and giving a two-week notice won’t serve any purpose.

4. Difficult or toxic work environment

The worst place to work is not where you are underpaid but in fact where the work environment is very toxic and unconducive. If your workplace is toxic yet you’ve tried every option to make things better, you can decide to quit with immediate effect. Happy work life is important for your emotional and psychological health.

5. Unfair workplace treatment

Did you miss a promotion you genuinely deserved? Are workplace promotions influenced by favouritism and the manager unfairly deciding who deserves a promotion or a raise? Are employees treated differently based on their religious beliefs?

If all these are the actual cases in your workplace and you’re not under any contract, you can choose to quit your job without notice. You deserve to work in a company that treats all employees fairly and everyone is given a fair shot at promotion and salary increase.

6. Everyone who gives a notice gets fired

If the company or your boss has a history of firing anyone who gives the notice to quit, it’s best not to give them one. Just hand your manager a resignation letter and mention the reason why you’re not giving notice (which in this case is the fact that anyone who gives a notice gets fired – you can mention names of previous employees who got fired after giving notice).

7. Going back to school

Another genuine excuse to quit a job without notice is if you’re planning to go back to school. Whether you will be attending school part-time or full-time, this may necessitate a job change. You might want to get a job that does not cause conflicts with your school schedules and gives you convenience in terms of school hours and proximity.

8. Major career change

You can also quit your job without giving your boss any notice if you want to make a major career shift. Many people quit their professional jobs to work self-employed as their own bosses, and in such a case there’s no need to give notice.

9. You’re relocating

If you’re relocating and the company does not have an option to transfer you to one of their branches close to your new home, quitting would be the best thing to do. You should, however, talk with your manager if you would like to keep your job even after relocating.

Consequences of quitting without notice

quitting without notice consequences

There are many possible consequences if you quit a job without notice. Below we highlight a few that you should really consider before opting to pack and leave without informing your boss in advance.

1. You could lose a good reference

There is a very high possibility of losing a good reference by quitting a job without notice. While defamation lawsuits make it hard for bosses to give references to former employees these days, your former boss can still be your reference even after leaving the company. Unfortunately, quitting without notice will make it impossible to get a good reference from your former boss.

2. Not eligible for rehire

Quitting without notice will have you classified as “not eligible for rehire”. Unfortunately for you, reference checkers often ask your former employers if you’re eligible for rehire. This can easily cost you a great opportunity because the company you wish to work for may fear that you will eventually quit without any notice just like you did in your previous job.

3. Being branded as a job hopper

While quitting one job without notice is understandable, if your resume indicates your previous jobs have lasted less than a year or two and you quit most of these jobs, your potential employer can easily classify you as a job hopper who rarely stays with a company for long.

This will deny you many jobs, more so those that require additional training while on the job. Companies and businesses wouldn’t want to invest time, money and training facilities on an employer who will quit the moment they feel a new opportunity beckons elsewhere.

4. Flexible spending accounts

In case you have a flexible spending account, you will not be able to use it to pay medical expenses not covered by your insurance as soon as you quit your job. With a flexible spending account, you either have to use it or lose it.

While you can apply for reimbursement after you quit, you can only be reimbursed for the money you spend while you were still employed. Some employers might give you until the end of the month you’re set to resign to use the money. However, this will require you to give them formal notice.

5. Ruined opportunities in future

If you quit a job without notice, your immediate boss, employees and peers will not be quick to recommend you for any job. They already have an impression of you; that you can quit without notice with little regard to everyone else in the company, their challenges and the burden they’ll have to carry until your replacement is found.

What if a few years down the line you apply for a new job in another company only to find one of your former workmates or boss is the hiring manager? Do you think he/she will be quick to hire you after they watched you quit your job without notice?

Why you shouldn’t quit a job without notice

While the nature of your employment can allow you to quit your job without giving any notice, there are a few reasons why doing so could be a really bad idea.

1. Your boss isn’t the only one that matters

While you might think your boss is the only one that matters, how about your clients, your peers and the incomplete projects you’ll leave behind? If you had clients and you quit with only 30 minutes notice, they will be handed over to someone new with little knowledge about any of them.

Some of your fellow employees will feel you betrayed them by quitting without notice. While your immediate without notice isn’t a betrayal, it sure feels like one. At least you should let them know and prepare for your departure.

2. You may want to come back in future

No one knows how the future will unfold. You might want to go back to the company a few years down the line, maybe due to a lack of options. Unfortunately, your dreams could be shattered if your social security number has a comment like “not eligible for rehire” due to your past actions.

4. It could ruin your chances with other companies

We have all heard and witnessed small companies being purchased by big firms. If this happens, all the records will be transferred to the new company, including everything about your records and those of the current and previous employees.

This will mean your unprofessional exit from a tiny company will hamper your chances of ever getting to work for a multinational company.

Final thoughts

While it is not illegal to quit a job without notice in the U.S., we recommend notifying your boss or manager of your plans. This gives them enough time to find a suitable replacement and will leave you in good standing with your boss and the company. Your current boss can even become a good reference of yours and if you wish to go back to the company in future then you will be “suitable for rehire”.

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