California is an at-will employment state. Basically, this means that your employer can end the employment contract at any time and for whatever reason as long as they keep it legal, of course.
While this might sound unfair, the opposite applies too. As an employee in California, you can quit your job at any time and for whatever reason without necessarily notifying your employer.
Some exceptions apply
California’s at-will employment rule does not apply to all forms of employment arrangements. The most popular exceptions to this rule are employment relationships that are governed by contracts, including implied contracts. In this situation, your employment contract may contain a clause that requires you to notify the employer before leaving employment.
One of the primary benefits of giving notice before leaving has to do with your wages. If you leave without notice, your employer generally has up to 72 hours to release your final paycheck. If you give notice, however, your employer has to avail your final paycheck at the time of your departure.
That being said, there are situations when you certainly need to leave without giving notice. Some of these instances include:
- When you are a victim of workplace discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment
- When your work environment becomes unreasonably hazardous and you believe your continued stay might put your health and life at risk.
- When your employer, supervisor or co-worker threatens your safety
- When you already know your employer will respond to your exit notice with retaliatory actions
Generally, California law does not require you to give your employer any advance notice before quitting your job. Find out how you can protect your rights and interests if your decision to leave leads to a conflict with your employer.