Is it legal to penalize employees who do not provide notice before quitting?

UPDATED: Jan 17, 2011

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Is it legal to penalize employees who do not provide notice before quitting?

For example, withholding accrued vacation pay.

Asked on January 17, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, notice is NOT required; employment is "employment at will" unless and only to the extent there is an employment contract to the contrary. Otherwise, either party may terminate the employment relationship at any time, without notice.

Therefore, generally no--you can't withhold any pay due to leaving employees because they failed to provide notice, except and only to the extent that there is a some contract or agreement which gives you the right to do this. That said, if you want to create an incentive for employees to give notice, you could have employees execute an agreement that they will not receive any acrued vacation pay upon their resigning or quitting unless they gave at least, say, two weeks, notice. Have employees sign it, make it easy to understand, and give them their own copy to hold onto.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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