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August 2, 2022 | CaliforniaEmploymentFrom the blog

Do I Have to Give Two Weeks’ Notice in California?

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Giving notice that you are quitting your job can be stressful.  Regardless of your feelings about leaving, you do not want to burn bridges with your employer or co-workers.  It is a good idea to educate yourself about the best way to resign and determine how and when you should give notice.  

Does California Require Advanced Notice of Resignation?

Generally, California is an “at-will employment” state, which allows both employers and employees to terminate employment at any time for any reason, absent an employment agreement to the contrary or termination for an unlawful reason such as discrimination or retaliation.  As a result, an employee can simply quit without giving notice unless a contract provides otherwise.

How Should You Give Notice of Resignation?

While notice is not required, in most cases you should provide notice and two weeks is a generally accepted standard.  The reason for giving notice is to allow your employer time to find your replacement, train existing employees and smooth the transition of your job functions.  If you abruptly quit, your employer and co-workers may not be inclined to give you a good recommendation in the future.

Giving notice does not have to be complicated.  Generally, it is best to be polite, courteous and avoid voicing complaints.  You are not required to give a reason for your departure or tell anyone about your plans.  Simply provide your last day.  If you have favorable views of your employer, feel free to share them.

What Are Your Rights If You Resign?

It is important to understand your rights when you resign:

  • Continued employment:  One risk of giving advanced notice is that your employer can choose to terminate you immediately.  You do not have a right to stay in your job until the last day you provide in your notice.
  • Health insurance:  You do have the right to continue on your employer’s health insurance plan through COBRA, but you must pay the entire cost.
  • Lawsuits:  In most cases, you cannot sue for wrongful termination if you resign, but you may be able to sue for discrimination or harassment as provided under federal, state and local laws.
  • Unemployment insurance benefits:  You do not have the right to unemployment insurance benefits except if your resignation is for “good cause.”  This includes quitting to relocate with a spouse or avoid domestic violence.  In addition, you may apply if you can show undue risk of injury or illness in the job or intolerable work conditions.  If your new job offer is rescinded, you may also be entitled to benefits.
  • Final paycheck:  Under California law, your employer must pay your final wages and unused vacation time within 72 hours after quitting.  If you give at least 72 hours advance notice, you will get your paycheck at the end of the last day of your job.  If your employer fires you, you must be paid on the same day as termination.

Can a Company Require Notice of Resignation?

Company policies that require notice of resignation are not enforceable except if they are in an employment contract.  If it is simply in an employee handbook, an employee does not have to give advance notice.


In most cases, you should give advance notice that you are quitting even though it is not a legal requirement.  If you have an employment contract, collective bargaining agreement or your employer may have acted unlawfully towards you, you should consult an attorney to discuss your situation.

Photo by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash

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