When you have looked for, found and accepted a new job, it’s cause to celebrate; at least up until the moment that you realize a ‘new job’ means providing your existing employer with a written departure notice. This can be a source of joy if the employee has had an unpleasant experience, but for many people, it is a source of mild grief, particularly if they have been in the role for a long time. Professionally and socially, where we work and who we work with, is deeply engrained in our lives; the average worker spends more than 2,000 hours per year with co-workers and managers.
Circumstances differ, and some businesses are willing to allow a new hire to determine the length of notice they provide to their soon-to-be former employer, as an act of professional courtesy. But in other cases, the employee may be required to start training and transition to the new role immediately, offering very little time to provide notice.
The North American Standard of Two Weeks Notice
If you are a “one person show” within your division or department, you already know how difficult it will be for your employer to replace you. With that in mind, there are many instances where two weeks advanced notice is insufficient for an employer to find, interview, hire and train a replacement for a skilled employee. While it is common, giving short notice that is disruptive to the organization or department can be cause for losing positive referrals from the business, or your direct management team.
In North America the cultural minimum notice required is two weeks, out of courtesy. However, 2-4 weeks is not uncommon in Canada, and the East Coast areas of the United States, where labor laws also require employers to provide a minimum amount of notice as well. However, in many States (such as Texas), a 'work to will' contract is established between the employer and the employee, where either party can depart without any further contractual obligations, giving as little as one day of notice. Typically mutual courtesy rules are still applied, but it can (and is) possible for an employer to release an employee with or without cause, providing as little as one-day of notice, under 'work to will' contract terms. Work to will contracts in the United States are more common in entry-level positions, than middle management or senior roles.
The Accepted European Standard for Leave or Resignation Notice
Labor laws protecting employees are much stronger in Europe than they are in North America. It is common for European workers to provide a minimum of sixty days of notice prior to resigning with their employer. Consequently (depending on the country) employers are also required to give a more lengthy notice of their intent to dismiss an employee. This courtesy allows organizations to avoid disruption to teams and productivity by sudden departures of key staff, and it affords greater security for European workers, who upon notice of dismissal, have a generous length of time to search for and procure a new employment opportunity.
In Germany, for instance, if the employee has been a full-time staff member for more than 24 months, they are required to provide a minimum of four weeks notice. However, if the employee has been with the employer for ten years, they are required to provide four months notice prior to leaving their role and position. For keystone employees that have been with the business for twenty or more years, a minimum of 7 months is expected, and typically enforced by contract.
Is It Possible to Give Too Much Notice?
In most cases, the ability to provide a long notice prior to departure is looked upon favorably. For the employer, it affords them the opportunity to evaluate the team dynamic, budget and reorganization (if required) of a department or role. It also provides ample time to recruit, interview and find the a good candidate to replace the departing employee.
It should be noted that once written resignation is provided, the employer in most cases, must comply by ensuring employment up to the date indicated. While labor laws vary by country and state, an employer who attempts to release an employee (or shorten the notice duration) may face legal consequences. Garnering a positive referral is important to all professionals (and maintaining a positive reputation is important to brands and businesses). Take care to leave your current employer on the best terms, to retain a positive referral and reference, and make every effort to perform to expectations up until the last day, out of professional courtesy.