Giving two weeks’ notice is a common, professional courtesy when resigning from a position. Before you decide how to give your two weeks’ notice, check your company’s employee handbook in case there are any policies already laid out. Companies generally will honor what’s written down about leaving the company, and knowing what your employer can legally do will help you make an informed decision about how to properly resign.
Many employees wonder what will happen to them after they give notice. Can their employer fire them immediately? What will happen to their pay and unused benefits? First, let’s talk about if that’s legal or not.
Read more: How to Give Two-Weeks Notice (with Examples)
Can an employer fire you after you give two-weeks notice?
The short answer—yes.
Although it’s not standard practice, employers have the right to fire you at any point—even up to your last hour of work—if you’re employed at will. Since there are a slew of reasons why firing an employee after they give notice is risky (and frowned upon) like putting the company’s reputation at stake, risking employee retaliation on social media, etc., most employers will allow employees to carry out their remaining two weeks. Typically, those two weeks are used to start interviewing potential replacements, gather information on unfinished projects, and temporarily transition work over to other employees.
Other times, a company might tell you that you’re no longer needed after the date when you submit your resignation. That doesn’t mean they’re firing you, but it does mean they don’t want you to continue working past that date. Usually, they’ll pay you for those two weeks, but they aren't obligated to. Take note of what happens when any of your coworkers resign—whatever happens to them could happen to you as well.
Read more: Quitting Without Notice…Is It Ever Okay?
What are the repercussions for pay and unemployment benefits?
If you are fired after you quit, your pay will cease immediately. If that happens, check your state’s unemployment rules. In some states, employees are protected against wrongful termination and termination that is deemed unreasonable or unfair. If you think your termination was unfair, file for unemployment benefits to see if you qualify for assistance. Just be wary that you may not receive two weeks’ worth of payments since some states have a waiting period of one week before benefits kick in.
The good news is that even if you’re fired, you most likely won’t lose your leftover vacation or personal days pay. Many companies have a reimbursement policy instated for employees after they leave the company, even if they’re fired. The only exception is if you leave without giving two-weeks notice—then you aren’t guaranteed any pay from unused benefits.
Even if you don’t think your employer will fire you, be prepared for the worst case scenario. If you use a company computer, wipe it clean of any personal information or work you want to save for your portfolio.
What should you do, if anything, if this has happened?
The stark truth is that there’s not much you can do if you were *rightfully* fired. If you’re applying to new jobs, start to practice your answers to any potential interview questions about your resignation or termination, and gather references to reinforce and strengthen your candidacy and credibility.
It’s always best to try and leave on a positive note, but you might be left with a bitter taste in your mouth if your employer fires you. And when you’re angry, it might be tempting to post paragraphs on social media badmouthing your former employer. Just remember that what your mother tells you is true—what you post on the internet lives forever, meaning any future employer will be able to see what you write, and an angry rant might turn them off from hiring you.
Read more: Can a Former Employer Badmouth You?