One of the most common questions to which employees want an answer after quitting their jobs, is whether or not their employers had the right to immediately terminate their employment without paying them through their resignation notice periods.
It’s not unusual for employers to send resigning employees packing soon after the employees hand in their resignation letters, and then refuse to pay the employees through their resignation notice periods.
Employers can generally get away with that for three reasons. For one, employers have the right to protect their businesses from last-minute theft, sabotage and ugly watercooler rumors by resigning, potentially-disgruntled employees.
For another, employment is “at will” in the USA, meaning that the legal system presumes employment to be voluntary and indefinite for both employers and employees. As a result, employers have the right to terminate employment at anytime and for any or no reason, pretty much the same as employees have the right to quit their jobs at anytime and for any or no reason.
Lastly, wage and hour laws in most states (and at the federal level) require employers to pay only for the hours that employees actually worked, not for the hours that employees only intended to work by giving advanced resignation notice.
Only a few states require employers to pay through a resignation notice period and only if employers in those states require employees to give advanced notice of resignation in the first place. Some employers pay through a resignation notice period even if state laws don’t require it, some don’t.
Regardless, resigning employees are entitled to wages and pay they’ve already earned, including overtime, commissions, reimbursements, and accrued vacation and sick-leave pay. Resigning employees are also entitled to receive their final paychecks in a timely manner.
Consult a lawyer for legal advice regarding resignation notice pay or other matters related to employment termination.
There is no federal law that requires you to “legally” quit your job by writing a resignation letter; but, you might suffer consequences if you don’t. Refer to “Must I Write a Resignation Letter?” for more about that.