I've been working with the same technology company for a half-decade now. I have developed some solid contacts and professional relationships with my colleagues, and get along with the whole of the office. This office is based in Toronto, Canada, if that helps with the legal considerations of this question.

Over the years, I have managed to work my way into a niche role. I am the only person in the office familiar with many aspects of our products, both technical and non-technical. I can say with certainty that it would not be an easy role to fill outright, and would likely end up being split amongst multiple people, with some work requiring a new hire (ie: a specialist) to take over.

I plan to go and work for a company that might be considered by some as a competitor, but I will be working with different technology that does not overlap with my current duties, so my existing non-compete agreement would not apply.

That being said, is there any harm in offering more than the two weeks of notice my contract demands? I am a full time regular employee, not a contract worker. Also, if I were to give, for example, two month's notice (ie: "Thank you for the opportunity. My final day of employment will be XXXXXXX.", and the company says "Thanks. Please grab your bag. Security will escort you immediately", would my current employer be required to pay severance for the two month period, or just the two weeks my contract requires of me, or maybe even the total amount of severance I have accumulated? If I were to be let go right now, I have accumulated about 7 months of severance pay, as our company has a generous severance package (ie: 2 months plus 1 month pear year worked).

My intent is not to goad my employer into paying me extra severance, but rather to give more than the minimum due notice as a sign of good faith, and not leave myself without income for a whole month or two if they decide to be vindictive. They've been really good to me, and I feel I owe them more than the bare minimum, since I know this position is not easy to fill. Although I have no official fiduciary duties written into my contract, a lot of people come to me routinely with questions and requests for help.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

  • I would never encourage anyone to give more than the minimum notice. No matter how much you think that a company might have difficulty replacing you, it's usually easier for them to replace you than you think. – Itsme2003 Jan 13 at 11:31

In Canada, when an employee asks you to leave immediately in circumstances such as this, it's usually the equivalent of "we are going to continue to pay you as if you were working up until your leaving date, but we don't want you to come in to work". it usually happens when there is the potential for you do harm the company in the remaining period (It is usually lawyer-driven and doesn't mean they think you will actually cause them harm, so try not to be upset about it.) In those circumstances you will be paid, and get your benefits, up to your chosen day of departure.

Technically they could terminate you on the spot, in which case they would have to pay the usual severance. The termination would be 'without cause'. Termination 'with cause' is extremely hard to prove, unless they actually caught you selling company secrets. Unless you have only been working there a year or so, the severance would be at least several weeks, so that's pretty much never worth it, even ignoring the fact that firing employees who just quit looks very bad.

One option they might try is to get you to move your notice period up, by giving you some fraction of the money you would have got in that time. The advantage to you is that you can then start earlier at the new company (You are probably prevented from starting at a new company while technically working for the old one, even if they aren't making you actually do anything).

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    So in this case, what's to stop someone from giving 6 month's notice and collecting all their accumulated severance? – Cloud Sep 10 '14 at 18:37
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    @Dogbert well, they don't have to ask you to leave immediately, they can have you working for the rest of those 6 months. And fire you with a rightful cause if you refuse to work them. – Peteris Sep 10 '14 at 18:40
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    @Peteris That would be fine with me, if that came to pass. The only scenario I would find undesirable is if they wanted me to leave on the spot, and were able to only pay me two weeks of severance. – Cloud Sep 10 '14 at 18:41

This depends on where you are located and it's laws.

Speaking from an "At-will" / "right to work" state in the US. If you put in your two week notice I can tell you to pack your bags and you'll only get paid up to the moment I told you to pack your bags. (Unless you're salary, then I have to pay you as if you worked the full day) This means you wouldn't accrue any more severance past the moment I cut you loose.

I don't owe you a dime for the two weeks unless you actually work them.

In some areas there are laws that require severance if I were to do this for the two weeks, or partial pay for that time. I really doubt though it would extend beyond the required notice period.

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    I'm in Canada at the moment, and there are no "at-will" employment provinces, fortunately for me. Do you think it's reasonable to expect the employer to have to pay me two month's severance if I give them two months of notice, and they demand I leave on the spot? I'm curious as to whether or not me giving them a lengthy notice period means they can fire me "with reason" and not have to pay severance. – Cloud Sep 10 '14 at 18:18
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    I doubt it. Once you indicate you're quitting formally (giving notice) you've effectively removed their ability to terminate you "with reason" that would matter in regards to severance. Basically, once you are quitting formally (notice given) they can't "fire" you really, they can just change when you quit. (Consult legal representation just to be safe) – RualStorge Sep 10 '14 at 18:22
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    @RualStorge that seems doubtful - if an employee would give a proper notice that they're quitting on 2050.12.31, then the employer should be able to fire them sooner than that. – Peteris Sep 10 '14 at 18:38
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    @Peteris Okay, let's play ball. When you formally put in notice you inform your boss of your resignation, and file whatever paperwork is appropriate for your area. You and your boss negotiate when your last day will be. Typically that's right now, end of the standard notice period, or end of your current assignment. If you're in an area with required notice period and your employer lets you go before that period is completed they are still obligated to pay you for that time. Many places the max notice length permitted is in months. Even then, if I'm let go during this time, it's as if I quit. – RualStorge Sep 10 '14 at 19:40
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    I'm not aware of USA details, but at least in my local legislation the law part of 'firing with cause' has no restrictions - if we have an 'agreement on end of work' as you describe, and I simply stop coming to work tomorrow (or come drunk or other relevant causes), then I can be fired with cause before the agreed quitting date and not paid for the remainder. And I really doubt if in the exact similar situation (resignation with final work date after 2-6 months, but you simply don't come to work) your local laws would obligate being paid the salary for that time. – Peteris Sep 10 '14 at 20:07

It depends on your local labour laws and your current contract.

Generally, though once you tender a resignation, your company is not obliged to allow you to remain any longer than that stipulated by law and your contract - if your contract (and law) only provides a two week notice period, then they don't have to agree to two months. They can ask you to leave immediately, and send you the two weeks pay owed.

On the other hand - some places do have a continuity policy, and they may be happy for you to stay on to help with filling your position - only you can judge if your company is one of those. You should not that, two months may seem a long time - but it might not be long enough to get a replacement. We typically advertise for one month before holding interviews, and then we generally have to wait up to a month for the candidate to work out their notice at their previous employer, which means we might not replace someone until three months after they hand in their resignation.

My advice is to only hand your notice in when you are required to by your agreement and local laws. If your company wanted longer periods, they should have written that into your contract.

  • +1 - I agree wholeheartedly with this advice. Give as much notice as is customary in your industry/country/etc. or requested by the employer and no more. – tomjedrz Sep 11 '14 at 15:55

If your contract states "two weeks notice", it means the company has the right to force you to work for two weeks, while you have the right to force the company to pay you for two weeks.

If you offer to leave with two months notice, they could just accept it. Or they could ask you to work for three months (but they can only ask, they can't force you). Or they could ask you to work for four weeks (you can't force them to pay for more). Or they could ask you to work for two weeks. They could offer to pay you for two weeks and tell you not to show up for work (because you can force them to pay, but not to allow you to work).

They can't terminate you right there and then, they have to give you your two weeks notice (that is they can't terminate you unless they want to get into legal trouble which is most likely more expensive than paying you for two weeks).

The disadvantage of giving two months notice is obviously that you might be out of work unplanned and unpaid for six weeks. That would be the old proverb that "no good deed goes unpunished" since you wanted to do them a favour by giving notice six weeks earlier.

(Giving you only two weeks might not even be a revenge action: If you were in a team of two and they decided there wasn't enough work for two and were ready to fire your colleague with two weeks notice because he performs slightly less good than you, then you giving notice will change that decision).