How Much Notice Should You Give?

The Labour Standards Code (or equivalent) in every province specifies the minimum notice period you must give your employer should you decide to quit your job.

Notice period is the amount of time from when you tell your employer you are leaving and when you actually leave. Length of notice period will depend on how long you have worked for that employer.

For example, in Nova Scotia, you have to give one week’s notice if you have worked with an employer between three months and two years. If more than two years, you are required to give two weeks’ notice.

No notice is required if you have worked there less than three months.

While the Labour Standards Code specifies the minimum notice you must give legally, it might not the right amount of time.

For instance, if you have a written employment agreement, it should state the amount of notice period—likely more than two weeks—you are required to give your employer.

Be guided by this agreement and live up to the terms you agreed to when signing it, even if its enforceability is questionable.

If you do not have a written agreement, you should still give reasonable notice. This could be anywhere from two weeks to three months, depending on your level of seniority, length of service, and scope of responsibilities.

In negotiating your notice period, think of your own needs last. Try to create a balance between the needs of your current employer, whom you don’t want to leave in the lurch, and your new employer, who likely wants you to start as soon as possible.

Other points to remember

Once you decide to leave your job, do it with class. Always take the high road by acting professionally and showing concern for the problems your resignation could create for your current employer.

Resignations should always be done face-to-face. Quitting by email, voice mail, or just simply not showing up for work one day are great ways to burn bridges and destroy your reputation.

Have a brief letter prepared explaining that you have decided to resign and have accepted another job. It is not necessary to provide a detailed explanation of why you are leaving, although it might come up in your face-to-face meeting.

Your letter should thank your employer for the opportunity they have given you to grow and expand your career, state the positive aspects of your experience with the company, and wish them well in the future.

Remember, work hard until your last day. The key here is to maintain a good relationship with that employer as you may need a good reference down the road. Keep your regular work hours and try to complete all outstanding projects you have on your desk.

It also helps to prepare a detailed set of notes for your successor so they have a good idea about what work needs to be done.

Lastly, don’t badmouth the company at any time. As others learn you are leaving, some disgruntled co-workers may try to engage you in negative gossip sessions. Disassociate yourself from these people.