An employment relationship without a contract defining a length of time of the employment for longer than one month may be terminated by either the employee or employer without providing advanced notice. This type of employment relationship is called “at will” or “at-will.” That means an employee can quit a job on the spot without giving advanced notice for any reason at all. For example, if an employer tells an employee that the employer will reduce the employee’s hours or hourly wage rate starting the next day, the employee can respond by quitting on the spot. The employee also does not have to give a reason. An employee with a contract who is not at will would have to follow the terms of the employment contract and may or may not need good cause to justify ending the contract without being liable for a breach of contract.
Many people have adopted the mistaken belief that at-will employees are required to give two (2) weeks or some other period of advanced notice to employers before quitting. However, in California at least, at-will employees do that merely as a customary courtesy to avoid leaving an employer without adequate time to find a replacement employee.
Nevertheless, California employees who give employers a reasonable notice of an intention to quit may help reduce the chance that the employer will say potentially harmful things about an employee to prospective employers who may ask about the departed employee in the future. Depending on the type of job, two (2) weeks of notice, more, or less may be reasonable and greatly appreciated by employers.
(See Link(s): Labor Code Section 2922)