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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development
  3. November 4, 2022

What to Know When Writing a Resignation Letter That’s Effective Immediately

Know what you’re getting into before you get out

Woman working from home with laptop contemplates resigning from her job effective immediately
Photo courtesy of Liza Summer

You often hear about someone resigning “effective immediately” when there's a scandal—a city council member being investigated for misusing funds, or a television anchor saying something derogatory in a hot-mic moment. 

For most of us, though, it’s far less controversial, like when you need to take care of someone who is sick, or you get sick yourself, or a better offer comes up that you weren’t expecting. 

Other times you are in an abusive or illegal work environment and need out ASAP. 

It’s not illegal to resign without any notice. Most people choose to give two weeks’ notice as a professional courtesy, and because they want to stick around for a bit to wrap up projects and set up their coworkers or team for success. That’s why someone deciding to leave abruptly is often a sign that something’s wrong, either personally or professionally. 

Here’s what to do when you’re thinking about making your resignation effective immediately. 

Resigning immediately because of mistreatment at work

If you’re experiencing harassment, discrimination, or witnessing anything illegal in the workplace, it’s understandable you want to get out right away. You’re not alone; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 61,331 workplace discrimination charges in 2021

If you find yourself in that spot, you can resign effective immediately, report the discrimination, and talk to an attorney about your rights. 

Some examples of illegal at-work behavior you could experience or witness someone else doing include: 

  • Discrimination based on gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, parental status, or disability

  • Sexual harassment

  • Stealing

  • Abusing drugs or alcohol

  • Ignorance of any reported behaviors that should be investigated to protect workers

Sometimes nothing illegal has been done, but you see signs you are in a toxic work environment. Changing the culture—especially if you’re new and walking into this established environment—isn’t what you signed up for. If you feel it’s damaging to stay another day, you can quit without notice

Read more: 6 Times You Should Talk to HR

Legal considerations when resigning immediately

Usually unemployment benefits are reserved for people who are fired or laid off from their jobs, but some states do let you claim unemployment if you quit for “good cause,” so check your individual state’s laws. “Good cause” reasons include quitting to take care of someone who is sick, taking another job, telling your employer about something illegal happening and your employer failing to act, or your employer changing the location or safety of your job. 

Another aspect about resigning that’s different in each state is if the employer can sue you for resigning without notice. Some states don’t require any notice at all. Others will acknowledge that a high-level employee who quits effective immediately can leave the company in a tough spot where they suffer financial loss, and they might have a right to sue.

Also, think about if you’re breaching a contract when you quit. It doesn’t mean you should stay in a situation you don’t want to be in, it just means the benefits you are forfeiting could be outlined in the contract. Some of those include paying back a bonus for signing on, or paying back tuition reimbursement. 

Non-legal repercussions for a resignation that’s effective immediately

If you’re not in any danger of being sued for an immediate resignation, the other considerations include how it will look on your resume or affect your future chances of getting hired. It is legal for employers/hiring managers to ask why you left your last job. 

Answering this question isn’t much of a concern if you find yourself with one abrupt quit, or “quick quit,” on your resume. People find themselves in unfortunate situations all the time. And you don’t have to go into how much notice you gave. You can give a diplomatic answer about the culture changing or you being ready for a new environment. Here are more tips on how to talk about the reasons for leaving your job while you interview. 

If you are in a pattern of abrupt leaving, maybe there’s a bigger issue going on. But if you happen to get into a position where you need to leave without notice and you otherwise have no issues with employers or professional behavior, it’s unlikely this will hurt your future opportunities. 

Templates for a resignation letter that’s effective immediately

When you’re resigning immediately and you’re on good terms with your employer, you can say this: 

Dear (Name of manager),

Please accept this letter as my formal notification of my resignation from the role of [position title] with [company name]. I will be leaving effective immediately, making my last day with the company [date of your last day].

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work in this role for the past [years of service in the role]. 

I wish the company continued success. 

Thank you and all best wishes,

(Your signature)

(Your printed name and contact information)

In cases when you are not on the best terms or you are uncomfortable with your workplace and need to leave immediately, you can keep your resignation letter as short and professional as possible: 

Dear (Name of manager),

Please accept this letter as my formal notification of my resignation from the role of [position title] with [company name]. I will be leaving effective immediately, making my last day with the company [date of your last day].

Thank you,

(Your signature)

(Your printed name and contact information)

More resources for when you’re resigning on the spot

If you find yourself in a tough workplace situation that makes you want to resign immediately, these resources may help: 

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