How to Know When to Quit Without a Two-Week Notice

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Giving two weeks' notice is important if you want to leave a job, but sometimes a situation occurs where it's necessary to quit without notice. It's essential to think about making such a decision carefully and behave professionally when you leave. The way you quit can affect your professional relationships going forward, so it's important to strive to leave a positive impression for the sake of your reputation. In this article, we discuss some common situations where it may be necessary to quit without giving two weeks' notice and provide a few tips for leaving a job professionally without notice.

When is it okay to quit without a two-week notice?

Although it's not a legal requirement to give a two-week notice when you leave a job, employers often expect a notice to help them reassign your duties and responsibilities and hire a new employee. This isn't always possible, and there are several situations where it may be acceptable to quit without notice. These situations may include:

Hostile work environment

It's important to prioritise your mental health in the workplace, and occasionally, professionals might experience a harmful work environment. If the work environment you're working in is affecting you negatively, consider moving on to a better position without giving notice. Discrimination or negative experiences in the workplace can make it challenging to perform your duties. Staying with the company for a few more weeks may even make your professional relationships worse, so you might consider leaving quickly.

Related: How to Create Collaborative Work Environment in 7 Steps

Unsafe work environment

Your employer is responsible for meeting workplace safety standards, but some employees may experience an unsafe work environment, and in these situations, may need to leave a job quickly. If you believe your safety is at risk, you may consider leaving without advanced notice, depending on the situation. You may also decide to notify your supervisor first to make sure they know of the safety concern. If they do not address it promptly, then you may consider leaving without notice.

Related: Top Eight Reasons for Leaving a Job (With Example Answers)

Personal health

Sometimes professionals need to leave a job to attend to their personal health. If you have a sudden health emergency and cannot perform your job duties, you may let your employer know that as soon as possible. They may be able to come up with a plan or discuss other options. If staying any longer with the company would affect your health, you may consider making a prompt but professional exit and focus on taking care of yourself.

Related: Should I Quit My Job? 10 Reasons to Submit Your Resignation

Family emergency

Employers often understand the importance of family obligations, and they don't hold it against you professionally if you suddenly quit your job to handle a family emergency or care for a family member. A family emergency can make it hard to come to work, so your former employer may adjust to your absence.

Your employer may even be sympathetic to your situation and provide you with a good reference. Before you make the choice to quit without notice, though, consider whether you may qualify for special leave, such as a compassion leave, filial leave and parental leave. This may allow you to take some time off instead of leaving permanently.

Lack of work opportunities

While you would ideally give notice, if you're being under-scheduled at your job or spend most of your workday doing busy work, you may consider quitting without two weeks' notice. Your employer might not expect you to finish out two weeks, especially if you work an irregular schedule at an over-staffed company where coworkers compete for shifts. If you have a positive relationship with your supervisor or manager, you might be able to provide a shorter notice based on a lack of work for you to do in your position.

Short-term employment

A professional may leave a role they just began if they realise it's not the right fit for them. If you're still in the onboarding or training phase and you realise the role or company is not a good match for you, you may be able to leave without notice. Doing this early can help the company spend time and resources training other professionals. If you're in this situation, consider meeting with a manager to discuss your feelings.

Tips for quitting without notice

If you're in a situation where it's necessary to quit without giving notice, consider using the following steps as a guide for terminating your employment professionally and tactfully:

Understand the risks

Before you quit without notice, carefully assess the risks and possible outcomes of your decision. Only resign from your job if it's truly in your best interests. If you're relying on your current employer for references in the future or work in a small industry, understand that quitting without notice could end your professional relationship. It could even result in a negative reference or reputation within that field. Your employer may redistribute your work to colleagues, affecting several people who can influence your career.

In addition to the professional and social repercussions, be sure to think about your employment contract before quitting. Your employment contract might include terms where you lose certain benefits if you quit without giving notice, such as unused vacation leave. Thus, carefully review any documents you signed when being hired, especially if you work on a contract.

Related: How to Resign Gracefully (With Reasons and Tips)

Communicate clearly

Even if you can't give a two-week notice, do your best to communicate with your employer and inform them that you're leaving. Inform your manager or supervisor about your last day of work, or if you're unable to come to work any longer. If possible, inform them in person, but an email, a note or a phone call are all better than nothing. If you have a positive relationship with your supervisor or manager, consider sharing some information about why you're quitting without notice. This might help you continue a professional relationship despite unfortunate circumstances.

Related: How to Explain Your Reason for Resignation (With Examples)

Be polite

Use professional and polite language when informing your manager that you quit. Consider showing dignity and grace even if your manager doesn't, as this can help support your professional reputation. If you share the reason you're quitting, be tactful and focus on the facts of the situation rather than assigning blame to someone in particular. In a high-conflict situation where it might be hard to stay polite and express gratitude, it might actually be in your best interest to resign from your job through a written note so that you can present a professional tone.

Recognise the situation

When informing your employer that you're leaving without notice, recognise that the situation isn't ideal for their party. If possible, offer to use your final days or hours on the job to help transition your responsibilities. Make sure to apologise for the inconvenience to acknowledge your employer's challenges and open the door for a positive relationship. This shows self-awareness and reminds the employer to consider your viewpoints and the situation that led to your sudden departure.

Contact human resources

Once you've quit your job, it's still necessary to communicate with the company's human resources department to learn the next steps for getting your final paycheck and receiving any unpaid benefits. They may schedule an exit interview to give an opportunity to provide constructive feedback if any workplace conditions contributed to you leaving your job. Consider providing them with updated contact details so they can send any checks or documents to the right place.

Resignation letter example

Here's an example of a good resignation letter for when you have to leave your job without notice:

Jimmy Chiu
489 Seaview Street
Kowloon, Hong Kong
5555 4321

January 10, 2022

David Lee
HK Insurance Co.
St. Matthew's Avenue
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Dear Mr Lee,

It's with my deep regret that I'm writing to inform you of my resignation from my job here at HK Insurance Co. due to personal reasons. My last day of work is on Friday. I understand this resignation is in breach of the terms of my employment contract, but please understand that I can't do otherwise because of unforeseen family circumstances.

I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your continued support. Working at this organisation has been a privilege, and I'll always remember my experiences here and the people I worked with.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need my help to make this situation easier for you. If you want to contact me, you can do so via phone or email.

Thanks a lot for your understanding.


Jimmy Chiu

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles