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Q: Why must employees give two weeks’ notice before they leave a company, but employers aren’t required to do the same before they fire a worker?
— C.A. Austin
New York City
A: “Giving notice is part of employment protocol,” says Howard L. Clark, president of Howard Clark Associates, an executive recruiting firm in Bellmawr, New Jersey. “It gives management some lead time to look for a replacement for a resigning employee.”
On the surface, this formality may not seem fair if you’re an employee, especially since many companies make use of an “at-will employment” policy, which gives an employer the right to let an employee go for any reason at any time.
But, you have to remember that terminations are usually the last stop in a pattern of bad behavior, unsatisfactory performance or failed disciplinary action, such as probation. If you are hit with a warning, you still retain the right to leave the company on your own. If you choose to stay, then you are also accepting the terms of your employment-which include taking the consequences if your behavior or performance doesn’t improve.